What the sprint goal can be for the first sprint when backlog is not ready?

Last post 04:20 pm January 6, 2019
by Simon Mayer
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09:14 am December 30, 2018

Consider the situation when the development team is ready to start their first sprint but product backlog is not ready yet.

From Scrum Guide:

The heart of Scrum is a Sprint, a time-box of one month or less during which a “Done”, useable, and potentially releasable product Increment is created.

 

The Sprint Goal is an objective that will be met within the Sprint through the implementation of the Product Backlog, and it provides guidance to the Development Team on why it is building the Increment.

So, in my opinion, sprint goal is about the Increment we're going to deliver. In that case, can we start the sprint if we can't come up with the clear sprint goal?

07:16 pm December 31, 2018

Consider the situation when the development team is ready to start their first sprint but product backlog is not ready yet.

Shouldn’t the Scrum Team then create enough of a Product Backlog, during Sprint Planning, to encompass their first Sprint forecast with a meaningful Sprint Goal?

08:56 am January 2, 2019

Maybe invite some additional people with specific knowledge/key users to do so. Collaborate with the PO and the stakeholders to create the best possible PB.

03:17 pm January 3, 2019

Consider the situation when the development team is ready to start their first sprint but product backlog is not ready yet.

The product backlog, in itself, will never be ready. The backlog is emergent, and evolves at least monthly (if not daily/weekly) - and as long as a product exists, so will its backlog.

What you want to do is to stimulate as many conversations as possible between the developers and the business reps, the business reps and the identified (or possible) stakeholders. Don't jump into sprint planning when you've got nothing (or almost nothing). Does the product need a technical arhitect and, if positive, have they been consulted? Perhaps you want to validate a test and will only be running a few sprints to have a mock "product" - if so, have you identified what is the best way to proceed? 

Remember that 80% of the benefits come from 20% of the features. 

01:57 pm January 4, 2019

Does the product need a technical arhitect and, if positive, have they been consulted?

If that a technical architect is needed to produce a Done increment - shouldn't that person be on the Development Team?

02:30 pm January 4, 2019

What if they're not required to produce a Done increment? :) Should they be part of the DT?

08:22 am January 6, 2019

Good to hear this question. I observed also the sprints without clear goal. I mean each individual in the team have some work to do. But this was not scrum. Sprint is created in order to see something in Jira.

 

 

Can the sprint goal be defined as a summary individual goals ? Rather not.

04:20 pm January 6, 2019

If a Scrum Team is assembled and ready to work on a product, and has allocated a length of time (the first Sprint) to achieve something, shouldn't there at least be some understanding of what success would be?

If this is a new product, I would say it is especially important to have a goal in the first Sprint, because the product is entirely unproven, and assumptions should be validated as early as possible with a working product that people can use.
Presumably there is some kind of higher purpose to this team existing (and being paid, I assume)? What are they expected to achieve? If that's at least understood on a high level, it should be possible to set a goal.

If it is not a new product, but perhaps the team is beginning to use Scrum then the Product Owner should have at least some idea about the next important thing to achieve with the product, and the Development Team should have at least some idea about what is achievable within the timeframe of one Sprint.

Over time, the Product Backlog should be added to and refined, but by the end of the first Sprint Planning, the team should have a good idea about the goal it aims to achieve in the first Sprint.
If this is not the case, there is probably an underlying problem that needs to be resolved.