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Why does Sprint Planning prepare for an "upcoming Sprint" and not the current Sprint?

Last post 02:37 pm May 31, 2018 by Curtis Slough
26 replies
07:08 pm February 12, 2018

Page 9 of the 2017 Scrum Guide says "Sprints contain and consist of the Sprint Planning, Daily Scrums, the development work, the

Sprint Review, and the Sprint Retrospective."

So each Sprint is comprised of one cycle of all those events.

However, page 11, when discussing what is accomplished during Sprint Planning, says "...enough work is planned during Sprint Planning for the Development

Team to forecast what it believes it can do in the upcoming Sprint."

Since Sprint Planning is contained in the current Sprint, any "upcoming Sprint" is a subsequent Sprint.  It seems more productive for the result of Sprint Planning to be what the DT believes it can do in the current Sprint.

Why does Scrum have DTs plan for an upcoming (future) Sprint and not for the current Sprint in which the Sprint Planning is taking place?

Thanks for the clarification!

09:33 pm February 12, 2018

Are you sure that planning must be contained in the current Sprint, or might that just be a convention? Would it be right to prescribe that planning has to wait for the current Sprint to start? Shouldn’t teams be free to do Sprint Planning at the end of a Sprint if they wish?

01:58 am February 13, 2018

The sequence of events that comprise of the sprint are.

1: Sprint Planning

2: Daily Scrum

3: Sprint Review

4: Sprint Retrospective

 "...enough work is planned during Sprint Planning for the Development

Team to forecast what it believes it can do in the upcoming Sprint."

Sprint planning is the starting point of the sprint that is coming up, I believe upcoming in this context means the sprint work that is going to start after the sprint planning phase it does not mean next sprint, what it really means is sprint work that is going to start or come up after the planning phase is over. 

That is how i perceived that.

07:15 am February 13, 2018

In my opinion , Scrum starts with just enough preparation and it goes on as discovery journey  , 

Now imagine the first Sprint : 

2 approaches here to start with , 

1. Doing Act Of Backlog Refinement before the Sprint starts so Development Team may have ' Ready ' items in product backlog and this act in on going and shall take a few days to do so and shall not call a Sprint . 

2. start the Sprint Planning and refine just enough Product Backlog Items for the first Sprint , so the Team can craft the Sprint Goal , during the Sprint D.T and P.O do Backlog Refinement to always have ' Ready ' Items for the next Sprint . 

the Items are refined untill they are transparent enough for the the development team to esitmate and confirm that they can be " Done " within a Sprint . 


02:09 pm February 13, 2018

I believe upcoming in this context means the sprint work that is going to start after the sprint planning phase it does not mean next sprint, what it really means is sprint work that is going to start or come up after the planning phase is over. 

There is not a planning phase, instead it is an event contained within a sprint. Whether the planning is done on day 1 of the current sprint or the last day of the previous sprint; that is up to the scrum team to decide. There is not, however, a time where the sprint ends and then there is a separate phase set aside for planning prior to the beginning of the next sprint.

Think about it like this: If you decide to go for a run and you haven't set a goal distance, therefore you've not set aside an amount of time allowed for the run; how likely is it that you'll run 5 miles without stopping or cutting it short? Conversely, if you decide in the morning that after work, you're going to go for a 5 mile run that evening; you'll have a goal in mind and you'll be able to set aside the appropriate amount of time. You can mentally prepare for the 5 mile run, you won't eat horrible food for lunch that would make you sick. Since you've planned for a 5 mile run, you won't just stop at mile 2 because you feel you did enough; which would likely happen if you just go for a run without planning and setting a goal. 

Scrum and sprint planning is the same. You need to plan ahead so you're better able and equipped to complete the task ahead and complete it efficiently.

04:23 pm February 13, 2018

Curtis : You are right, what i meant to say was the sprint planning event should not be calling it a phase.

12:31 am February 15, 2018

Thanks for the responses everyone!

The Scrum Guide on page 10 says "The work to be performed in the Sprint is planned at the Sprint Planning."  Following English convention, "the Sprint" is the current not an upcoming Sprint.

Page 11 of the Guide says "Work planned for the first days of the Sprint by the Development Team is decomposed by the end of this [Sprint Planning] meeting, often to units of one day or less." This also seems to say planning takes place at the beginning of "the Sprint".

However, based on what I originally quoted, Sprint Planning is done for an upcoming Sprint.  Really the issue is that the word choices in the Scrum Guide are poor & confusing.  I agree with Ian and Curtis that teams should be free to do the planning when they best see fit.  However, the rules seem to contradict themselves.  Is planning for "the [current] Sprint" or for "the upcoming Sprint"?  Or was the intent for teams to be free to decide which of those they want?

If the Guide's intent was for planning to be for a future Sprint, it should also have "upcoming" in the two cited sentences I included above.  If the Guide's intent was for it to happen at the beginning, it should omit "upcoming" from my original page 9 citation.  If the Guide's intent was for teams to be free to decide to plan for the current Sprint at its beginning or plan for the next Sprint at the end of the prior Sprint, then all those citations need reworded.

@NIKHIL - As you pointed out, Sprint Planning is one of the events that comprise the Sprint. Therefore, the team is already in a Sprint and can't plan for a Sprint coming up unless that is a future Sprint.  I believe you are correct in your interpretation, however, and what should have been written in the Scrum Guide was that Sprint Planning is for the CURRENT Sprint, not for an UPCOMING Sprint.

Say you go to a birthday party on a Friday and plan to go to an anniversary party on Saturday.  At the birthday party your friend asks what you think of "the party".  It's clear to me that she means the birthday party.  Does anyone really think she is referring to the anniversary party?  Of course, if she asks you what you think of the "upcoming party", you'd would know she meant the anniversary party.   Along the same lines, "the Sprint" is the current Sprint, and "the upcoming Sprint" is a future Sprint.

This matters because "Scrum’s roles, events, artifacts, and rules are immutable and although implementing only parts of Scrum is possible, the result is not Scrum." (Scrum Guide page 19)

01:31 pm February 15, 2018

Kenneth, I don't think the birthday party and anniversary party analogy fits here. Firstly, you must understand that Scrum is a framework, not a process, not a book full of rules. This is the crucial point of difference between other methodologies, which are basically strict processes filled with specific roles and driven by specific rules. Scrum allows teams to do things differently while still being within the framework of Scrum. The reason is because scrum is an empirical framework. If the Scrum guide was changed, per your suggestion, to have the Sprint Planning in the current sprint, that forces every scrum team to start the sprint with planning. What if you start using scrum and this is the first sprint ever for your team? Do you think it would be wise to not do any planning until the first day of the first sprint? My team uses the last day or 2 of the sprint to encompass our retro and planning for the next sprint. We have found that being able to start development work on day 1 of the sprint is best for us because we know prior to the start what our goal is, there is no guess work. Your team may be different in that you want to start the sprint with the planning session; neither is wrong because it comes down to what is best for the team. This, my friend, is why I love Scrum. It's not strict with rules and processes. It is flexible so that you and your team can try something, inspect it and adapt and if necessary; try something a little different next time. If it was changed to be a bunch of rules, you are restricted in what things you can inspect and adapt.

02:12 pm February 15, 2018

I am encouraged that the semantic debates regarding Scrum Guide wording have dropped significantly since the recent Scrum Guide update.

Since there doesn't seem to be much confusion around the order of events, or what needs to take place when, perhaps this is another opportunity for clarification, and should be appropriately communicated to Scrum.Org?

04:56 pm February 16, 2018


I'd say what your team is doing is starting the Sprint with Sprint Planning anyway.  You may say it is the end of the prior Sprint, but I'd counter that it is actually the start of the next Sprint and you ended the prior Sprint once you completed the Retrospective.

The flow is the same regardless of where you draw the line (Plan -> develop -> Review -> Retrospective -> repeat).

Of note, although the Scrum Guide is the de-facto source on defining Scrum, here's what the Scrum Glossary says:

Sprint Planning is a "time boxed event of 8 hours, or less, to start a Sprint."

Sprint Retrospective is a "time boxed event of 3 hours, or less, to end a Sprint."

So if the Scrum Glossary has any value, then a Sprint starts with Planning and ends with Retrospective.  It doesn't start with development and end with Planning, since that Planning is actually the start of the upcoming Sprint.

As I pointed out, the Scrum Guide already says that planning is done in "the [current] Sprint" (which the Glossary also says).  However, it also says that planing is done for "the upcoming Sprint".  Which is it?

I think Tim's got it right that the guide needs revised to clarify the intent.

06:37 pm February 16, 2018

Kenneth, Tim was referring to the website content; not the scrum guide. The scrum guide is what we are to use to determine if we are within the framework of Scrum; not the glossary on The glossary is just a tool and in this case I don't believe it matches up with the scrum guide because it makes an assumption of the placement of the event within the sprint. Typically, we all come back to "what is best for the team" and "what does the scrum guide say"; I've never had a conversation where someone asked what the glossary on says. 

What would happen if the scrum guide said the stand up is required to be at the beginning of the day? What about teams spread across time zones? The beginning of the day is certainly different for each person then. Rather than place a rule that the stand up needs to happen at the beginning of the day, the scrum guide left that up so the teams could decide what works best for them. The same logic should be placed on the sprint planning. It doesn't matter if you plan for the current sprint or the next sprint, but the sprint planning must happen and it must happen within a sprint. 

To close, find what works best for your team and do that.

10:27 pm February 16, 2018

The Scrum Guide outlines the framework for Scrum, and specifies that Scrum consists of roles, events, artifacts, and the rules that bind them together (Scrum Guide page 3).  Saying the Sprint Planning must happen within a Sprint would be a rule!  And I believe you are correct that that is indeed a rule of Scrum.

If I understand correctly, you are saying the Scrum Glossary provided here at is incorrect because it tells us Sprint Planning starts a Sprint and Sprint Retrospective ends a Sprint.  I believe those are some of the rules of the Scrum framework.

My point all along has been that the Scrum Guide makes two statements about Sprint Planning and they are not congruent.  It says a single planning event is both for the current and an upcoming Sprint depending on which portion of the Guide you read.  That's confusing and a guide shouldn't confuse, it should clarify!

Since everything I've read, other than your and Ian's replies here along with page 11 of the Scrum Guide, supports Sprint Planning happening at the start of a Sprint for the current Sprint, I'm going to press on with the assumption that that is indeed a rule for Scrum regarding the chronological occurrence of the four events.

Regardless, you're absolutely right that whether or not Scrum is implemented, or if only some features of Scrum are used, whatever works best for a team is what should be used.

Thanks again for your and everyone else's time and inputs!

02:13 pm May 4, 2018

"A new sprint starts immediately after the conclusion of the previous sprint"

Sprint Planning section states:

"What can be delivered in the Increment resulting from the upcoming Sprint"

"What can be done this Sprint"

"The team forecasts what it believes it can do in the upcoming sprint"

Sprint Review section states:

"the result of the Sprint Review is a revised Product Backlog that defines the probable Product Backlog items for the next Sprint"; referring to 'next', not 'upcoming'.

I would love to know though, if there is a specific reason for choosing 'upcoming' versus 'next' in the language that is used. I am not a native English speaker and those nuances might be tricky when properly understanding Scrum.

So reading carefully, the guide suggests that during the Sprint Planning the team will work out what can be done this sprint, and forecast what can be done in the upcoming sprint. 

The Sprint Planning doesn't have to take place at the start of the Sprint; It surely doesn't take place "in-between" Sprints and nothing prevents teams to be planning a Sprint prior to it having started. Planning doesn't have to be contained to the current Sprint.

If any of the above interpretations I made are incorrect, I would love to learn why, as this forum is a change for me to learn and better my understanding of Scrum.





09:21 pm May 18, 2018

I am not ready to let this one go yet ><  

Another thought, I noticed that the Sprint Planning at first states 'upcoming Sprint', then it simply refers to it as  'the Sprint' and then, reaching "Topic Two" it refers to 'this Sprint' continued by 'the Sprint'. So could it be [call me crazy] that the Sprint Planning is be spit across two Sprints? as the first part prepares the upcoming Sprint and at the second part, the dev team timely decides how it will go about it for this sprint. Can anyone explain to me if I am wrong and help me understand why?

Personally I still believe the Guide is intends to have the teams figure out themselves what makes sense, but I just wish the Guide was a bit less ambiguous. I also still really want to know if the choice in wording 'upcoming' vs 'next' is deliberate and if I am possible missing a nuance here as I am not an English native speaker.

05:04 pm May 22, 2018

So I went back through the comments and I ran through the scrum guide again. Then, I went through the PDF of the Scrum Guide and used the Find action to locate every time the word "Upcoming" and “Next Sprint” was used in order to gain the context for the use of the term. See below:


  • Page 10: Sprint planning answers the following: What can be delivered in the Increment resulting from the upcoming Sprint?
  • Page 10: Only the Dev Team can assess what it can accomplish over the upcoming sprint.
  • Page 11: However, enough work is planned during sprint planning for the dev team to forecast what it believes it can do in the upcoming sprint.
  • Page 12: (Daily Scrum) This optimizes team collaboration and performance by inspecting the work since the last Daily Scrum and forecasting upcoming sprint work.
  • Page 15: One Product Backlog is used to describe the upcoming work on the product.
  • Page 15: Product Backlog items that will occupy the Dev Team for the upcoming sprint are refined so that any one item can reasonably be “Done” within the sprint timebox.

Next Sprint:

  • Page 14: The Sprint Retrospective is an opportunity for the Scrum Team to inspect itself and create a plan for improvements to be enacted during the next sprint.
  • Page 14: The Sprint Retrospective occurs after the sprint review and prior to the next sprint planning.
  • Page 14: The Scrum Master encourages the Scrum Team to improve, within the scrum process framework, its development process and practices to make it more effective and enjoyable for the next sprint.
  • Page 14: By the end of the sprint retrospective, the scrum team should have identified improvements that it will implement in the next sprint.
  • Page 14: Implementing these improvements in the next sprint is the adaptation to the inspection of the scrum team itself.

In my opinion, “Upcoming” is equal to “Next” and vice versa. The use of “upcoming” does not send a message that it refers to something months from now, it means the next thing or remaining work. For me, the deciding factor was the sentence regarding the Daily Scrum. The Scrum Guide states it is a time to inspect and forecast upcoming sprint work. We very well know that in the Daily Scrum, we are not discussing work for a sprint down the road; we are discussing the remaining work or work to be worked on next for the sprint. The same goes for the use of upcoming regarding Sprint Planning. Read through the sentences above, you can swap upcoming for next and vice versa in almost every sentence and you get the same meaning and expectation.

I think it is all how you view the process as a whole. I will try to explain what I mean by the use of a vacation trip analogy. I decide that this weekend, I’m going to drive from Dallas, TX to San Diego, CA. So between now and Saturday morning, I’m looking at different things that I want to do and where I will stay along the trip; I’m creating my backlog so to speak. So Friday night after I’ve packed and loaded the car, I sit down and put my final plan into place. I look at the map and decide my route, I make sure my hotels are booked, etc etc; I am in a Planning session. Now, even though the planning is part of the trip overall, I don’t really consider the trip itself starting until I get in the car and start driving down the road. The Sprint Planning is laying out the map and deciding the route for the sprint. While it is definitely part of the sprint but the actual sprint development work doesn’t begin until after the meeting. So you could say that you’re planning for the next/upcoming sprint because you’re not actually performing any development work towards the increment until after the planning session. Keep in mind, I’m not saying that the Sprint Planning is not part of the sprint. I just think many people see the Planning as step 1 of the sprint but the “meat” of the sprint begins with the next or upcoming steps within the sprint.

This is an example where we need to take a step back and look at the overall context instead of focusing on a single term as the deciding factor for how to proceed. I know it is tough for non-native English speakers because there are many words that carry multiple meanings that can change depending on the context of the verbiage. “Upcoming” is one of them. Used in the context of the Scrum Guide, it carries the same meaning as the word “next”. However, many times “upcoming” is used to describe events that are approaching but still several weeks and months off.

I hope this helped. The trip analogy would make more sense with a whiteboard but hoping it came across the way I meant.

05:23 pm May 22, 2018

Perhaps I'm being a bit simplistic here, but if upcoming would refer to the next sprint and not the current one, what would be the use of planning for the next one while the current one hasn't finished yet leaving out useful experience information which would benefit the planning of a sprint.




06:27 pm May 22, 2018

John, I agree. I think you're referring to one of my previous comments where my team likes to the planning at the end of the previous sprint before the first day of the next sprint. I actually agree with Kenneth's reply to that in that technically we are beginning a new sprint when we start the planning:

I'd say what your team is doing is starting the Sprint with Sprint Planning anyway.  You may say it is the end of the prior Sprint, but I'd counter that it is actually the start of the next Sprint and you ended the prior Sprint once you completed the Retrospective

For my company, we set our sprints by work weeks, Monday - Friday; so sprints always begin on a Monday and end on a Friday. We usually like to have our sprint work completed by the Wednesday of the last week of the sprint so we can utilize Thursday and Friday for the Review, Retro, and the Planning (for the next sprint) sessions. From one point of view, since our sprints begin on Monday's and end on Friday's, we are technically in the previous sprint when we start our planning session on Friday. From another point of view, our Sprint ends on Thursday after the Retro and begins on Friday when we do the Planning session. Scheduling and planning wise though, it is much easier and less complex to have them start on Monday's. 

Could it be changed to be "current" instead? Sure. But I have to wonder why it wasn't that way to begin with and why "upcoming" and "next" was used instead.

05:49 am May 23, 2018

In my opinion, every Sprint begins with Sprint Planning, and this is my reasoning, despite the potentially ambiguous use of "upcoming".

  • "There is no such thing as Sprint 0". The first Sprint needs a plan, otherwise there is no Sprint Goal to work towards.
  • The order the events are written in the Scrum Guide implies that Sprint Planning comes first.
  • "Topic One: What can be done this Sprint?" is written in the Scrum Guide and is unambiguous.
  • A cancelled Sprint would need a new Sprint Planning to come up with a new Sprint Goal

That said, if it works for people to consider Sprint Planning as part of the previous Sprint, go ahead. I'm just far from convinced that it is the intention of the Scrum Guide.

It's also important to consider that as there is no time between Sprints, it doesn't preclude all events taking place on the same day. For instance, the Sprint Retrospective might run until 13:30 on a Tuesday, at which point the Sprint ends, a new one begins immediately, and the team could choose to go in to Sprint Planning for the new Sprint straight away.

In some cases, this could be considered optimal.


07:19 am May 23, 2018

Hi Curtis,

Thanks for your feedback.

In your example I would say that the new sprint has started on Friday afternoon (after you have done the review and retrospective) since planning would be the first step in a (new) sprint. So even though you have defined your sprints starting on Mondays and ending on Friday's, I think starting a sprint planning marks the beginning of a new sprint.









01:17 pm May 23, 2018

That said, if it works for people to consider Sprint Planning as part of the previous Sprint, go ahead. I'm just far from convinced that it is the intention of the Scrum Guide.

Good call out Simon. I don't think the Sprint Planning is part of the previous sprint, it is just the way the scheduling for my company and teams works that makes it seem like it is the previous sprint. On the Calendar, our sprints always start on a Monday and we are usually done with our sprint work by the last Wednesday of the sprint. This allows Thursday and Friday for the Review and Retro for the current sprint; then we will typically go ahead and do the Sprint Planning for the sprint to start on Monday. It is more a technicality that we are in the previous sprint when we are doing the Sprint Planning because truly once the Retro is concluded; the Sprint itself is over and the next one begins. 

I should have explained that better in my original comments a few months back on this. 

09:32 am May 30, 2018

I also asked myself about "upcoming Sprint" when reading Scrum Guide. Now after re-read Scrum Guide an Glossary, I think that Sprint start after Sprint planning, not before sprint planning.

Some info support my understanding:

In Scrum Guide > Sprint planning > Topic Two: how will the chosen work get done?

Work planned for the first days of the Sprint by the Development Team is decomposed by the end of this meeting, often to units of one day or less. The Development Team self-organizes to undertake the work in the Sprint Backlog, both during Sprint Planning and as needed throughout the Sprint.

  • First days of the Sprint by the end of this meeting: I understand that this meeting is not counted as first day of Sprint (because 1 month Sprint have 8h time-boxed = 1 day for Sprint planning)
  • During Sprint Planning and throughout the Sprint: I understand that there're 2 different periods.

In Glossary

Sprint Planning: time-boxed event of 8 hours, or less, to start a Sprint. It serves for the Scrum Team to inspect the work from the Product Backlog that’s most valuable to be done next and design that work into Sprint backlog.

  • Event to start a Sprint: I understand that Sprint will be start after Sprint Planning.

07:06 pm May 30, 2018

 So Bui, do you think the Sprint Planning is part of the previous sprint? 

09:00 pm May 30, 2018

Sprint Planning: time-boxed event of 8 hours, or less, to start a Sprint.

This glossary statement from the Scrum Guide does not state that the sprint starts at the conclusion of Sprint Planning, but that the sprint starts with a time-boxed event of 8 hours or less, called Sprint Planning.

This is much hand-wringing over nothing really, but since the Scrum Guide clearly states that there is no break period in between sprints (the next sprint starts immediately at the conclusion of the previous sprint), Sprint Planning must either be the final ceremony of a sprint, or the first ceremony of a sprint.

Which one makes logical sense?

09:27 pm May 30, 2018

Yeah we have definitely split a lot of hairs on this issue (and I will admit that I contributed and caused a bit of it, I'm sorry). It is interesting to hear what other teams do though and what people think about this issue. 

07:17 am May 31, 2018

So Bui, do you think the Sprint Planning is part of the previous sprint? 

I dont know :D. I still believe that a Sprint planning is beginning of a Sprint before I read this topic. But some words make me confused, then I tried to convince myself with another idea :D. Because in Scrum Framework poster there's no line or frame to bound where the Sprint begins and where it ends.

01:05 pm May 31, 2018


As stated, the Scrum Framework Poster is a "graphical view of how Scrum is implemented at a team level within an organization".   It is not a graphical view of a sprint's events.


02:37 pm May 31, 2018

That's why it is a Framework and not a restrictive process, teams can do what works best for them with only a few guidelines that must be considered. We could continue splitting hairs about it but here is my conclusion: I think we could all agree that after the Retro the team moves on to Sprint Planning. Whether it is in the previous sprint's timeline (like my example where our sprints always start on Monday's and we do our planning on the Friday prior to), or if it absolutely the first day of your sprint; the team is planning on what they will do for the new sprint. I think we have beaten this dead horse into oblivion, let's find a new topic.

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