Sprint planning is absolutely vital to the success of a Scrum team.
You wouldn’t expect a sports team to perform well if they never met for practice, so in the same way, you shouldn’t expect a Scrum team to be able to work together without holding consistent meetings to strategize for the next sprint.
Evaluate your team’s attitude and readiness to see if there are any areas that could use improvement before the planning meeting. A Scrum team should be self-managing, but sometimes they still need a little help to get them on the right path. If team members aren’t willing or predisposed to take their own decisions, then the outcome of the meeting is doomed before it begins, and defeats the very purpose of going Agile.
Before you start your next Sprint planning meeting, check out these strategies that could make all the difference in the outcome of your next team assignment.
1. Learn From Past Mistakes
One of the most important (and sadly underutilized) steps during many Scrum meetings is the Retrospective. We don’t like to spend time dwelling on the past, especially if things did not go very well. However, by observing and reflecting from the last Sprint, your team can discover some better strategies for a more successful future.
First, your team must discuss the source of the issue. Remember that this is team effort, not an opportunity for pointing fingers. Should things escalate, it is the Scrum Master’s duty to remind the team of the Scrum core value to treat team members with respect, as they are capable, independent people. If a team member has made a mistake, then it is up to them to acknowledge their missteps, not other Scrum members.
Get the discussion going by asking the team the following sorts of questions:
- What areas improved last week?
- What practices are not working for us?
- What can we do to help us improve our results?
It is up to the Scrum Team to find practices and strategies that need to be adjusted or changed for better results. If the team is struggling to hit deadlines consistently, then it may be time to implement specific tools for better time management.
2. Hold a Pre-Sprint Meeting
While holding a meeting before a meeting might sound a little redundant, it can be quite helpful for keeping your Scrum team on track during their next Sprint. It is a way for the team to gather their thoughts and prepare what needs to be discussed during the official Scrum meeting.
The first step that the team must take is to manage the backlogs along with the product owner. These are all of the assignments that must take place during a large project that must be put in order of priority during each Sprint meeting. Nutcache’s backlog management makes it easy to evaluate projects at a glance, and users can drag and drop assignments into the best order of precedence. Doing a little backlog grooming will help teams understand what they need to tackle next.
This planning session is not to be confused with retrospectives. While it gives teams the chance to see which projects were not completed, it is not the time to discuss why they were not finished. Instead, this pre-meeting is to plan out what needs to be discussed during the Sprint Meeting and what new tasks are ready to move out of the backlog section.
This planning meeting does not have to be formal, nor does it need to include every member of the team. It should, most likely, be between just the Scrum Master and Product Owner so they are able to evaluate what needs to happen next before the official Sprint meeting.
3. Utilize the Right Tools
If you want to make your team more efficient and your meetings more productive, it may be time to implement software that is designed for Scrum. Teams that use project management software experience improvements in team communication, project quality, and customer satisfaction.
The features that Nutcache’s system provides, can help your team stick to the Scrum framework easily by focusing on planning, committing, and delivering functional products while staying within budget and time constraints. The program breaks down projects into a visual Scrum boards that shows exactly what each Sprint entails.
Users can drag and drop tasks to manage the backlog easily, and every team member is kept accountable with specific project assignments. Project Owners can see how the team is advancing at a glance with progression tracking and burn-down graphs to estimate completion timeframes.
By organizing your team digitally, you can be sure that everyone will have a clearer understanding of what they need to accomplish during each Sprint. Nutcache offers a complete set of tools and features that will help your team stay focused on completing tasks while remaining aligned with the Sprint goals.
4. Hold a How Meeting
Many Scrum meetings solely focus on what needs to be accomplished during the next Sprint, rather than how this will actually be done. If a meeting adjourns without full clarification on assignments and expectations, it can lead to confusion and mistakes down the road.
Holding a How meeting goes a step beyond the to-do list by discussing what exactly needs to happen in order for this Sprint to be completed. Product Owners and Scrum Masters should open the floor to team members to share their concerns or suggestions for practices that will make it possible to finish each assignment properly. Every team member should be encouraged to share their ideas for strategies to help diminish any foreseen obstacles that could stand in the way.
By asking every team member to share their opinion and become more involved with the process, members are encouraged to become more engaged with the organization as a whole. Gallup conducted a study and found that employees who are actively engaged with their business were over 20% more productive than their unengaged counterparts.
5. Stick to the Method
The Scrum was designed to be a flexible, yet effective, strategy for development teams to work together to accomplish a large project. The innovative practice was developed to mirror a rugby team approach, where teammates passed the ball (or task assignments) back and forth while moving down the field towards the goal.
The Scrum method has an exhaustive list of benefits, including its transparency, provision for continuous improvement, and innovative environment. Nearly 25% of the teams agree that Scrum makes them feel more empowered to do their own work without being micromanaged.
The truth is that using a Scrum framework properly will no doubt help your team accomplish their goals and provide excellent work. However, if the standards and Agile principles are not applied correctly, it could result in total disaster. Be sure that everybody understands what it means to be a Scrum team member and go over the guidelines during meetings to keep these principles in the forefront of everyone’s minds.
Your team has likely decided to follow the Scrum method for one reason: it works.
By implementing these strategies and tips to your next Sprint planning meeting, your team is sure to improve and grow.