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What Is A Sprint Planning Meeting? This Might Surprise You!

During the Sprint Planning Meeting, the Scrum Team builds a viable Sprint Backlog, which determines the user stories and tasks the team is going to implement until the end of this Sprint (Product Increment).

A Scrum Sprint Planning Meeting constitutes two parts, namely the WHAT-Meeting, and the HOW-Meeting. As those names imply, the WHAT-Meeting focuses on the scope of a Sprint, whereas the HOW-Meeting focuses on how this scope will be implemented.

During Sprint Planning Meetings, the presence of the Scrum Product Owner is mandatory. So she can answer questions from the Scrum Team and bring clarifications for the requirements and their acceptance criteria.

Stakeholders such as end-users or line managers can join Sprint Planning Meetings as view-only audiences. They're not allowed to influence the flow of the Sprint Planning Meeting.

The Sprint Goal

The Scrum Product Owner defines the Sprint Goal. It is a concise and realistic description of what the Sprint will attempt to achieve for business, end-users, and IT systems.

The Team Capacity

The total capacity of the Scrum Team might change from Sprint to Sprint. To make realistic commitments, the Scrum Team needs to know its capacity for the upcoming Sprint.

The team needs to take vacations, public holidays, time spent on Scrum Rituals, and a small contingency for unforeseen issues into account to propose a reasonable capacity.

The WHAT-Meeting

A Sprint Planning Meeting (See also Sprint Review Meeting: Goals and Protips) starts with a WHAT-Meeting. It requires some preparation:

  • The Scrum Product Owner defines the Sprint Goal.
  • Based on this goal, the Scrum Product Owner chooses the candidate user stories for the Sprint from the Scrum Product Backlog.
  • These user stories are edited and broken into smaller user stories when necessary so that they can be processed within one Sprint.
  • The user stories are estimated and prioritized.
  • The Scrum Team plans its capacity for the upcoming Sprint.

The duties of various Scrum roles during the course of the WHAT-Meeting part of Sprint Planning Meetings are the following:

  • The Product Owner introduces the Sprint goal and her preselection of requirements, which should go into the product increment.
  • The Scrum Team identifies the required tasks and their estimations. It's the role of the Scrum Team to decide which and how many requirements preselected by the product owner they can confidently deliver in this Sprint.
  • The Scrum Master moderates the meeting. She ensures that the self-organization and autonomous decision-making capability of the Scrum Team remain intact.

The HOW-Meeting

The goal of HOW-Meeting is to fill the Sprint Backlog by identifying the concrete tasks needed to implement committed user stories for the Sprint. These tasks usually (but not limited to) include activities such as analysis, design, development, testing, software build packaging, and documentation.

The HOW-Meeting can be done in a separate session after the WHAT-Meeting, or it may follow the WHAT-Meeting without a pause.

After identifying the tasks to be completed, the Scrum Team estimates these tasks. The unit for this estimation can be person-hours. Based on these estimates, the team has now its baseline about how long each user story will take them to deliver.

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What Is A Sprint Planning Meeting? This Might Surprise You!

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