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Terminate the Sprint

Last post 08:42 pm January 10, 2018 by Charles Bradley
7 replies
04:43 pm March 24, 2015


I am reading the "Agile Project Management with Scrum". While checking the rules I figured out that 2 items in the Sprint section state that Scrum Master abnormally terminate the sprint, not the product owner.

When I checked the previous posts, I found one post which addresses same item, was written by Ian. However, I could not see a definite answer about it.

At that point, since the product owner can terminate the sprint based on the Scrum Guide and the exam questions, can scrum master do it also? The book does not say anything about Product owner.

I can move on by accepting the correctness of the Scrum Guide but it is a little confusing since the author is same.

Is there anybody made a research previously?

Thank you.

04:49 pm March 24, 2015

I guess you should ask Ken indeed :)

To me it seems logical for the product owner to be able to cancel a sprint, because he/she is the one that knows best that the Sprint goal has no meaning (will not deliver business value) anymore, because of whatever reason.

However, the Scrum Master's role is to advise the Product Owner. He might advise the PO to cancel the sprint if it really makes sense to do so.

11:22 am March 25, 2015

The question of who has the authority to abnormally terminate a Sprint appears in the Open Assessment. The answer considered to be correct is the Product Owner, assuming that he or she believes it no longer makes sense to continue with the Sprint.

That's as close as we have to a definitive answer, although I must say it looks pretty definitive to me. It also makes sense because only the PO is in a position to account for value, and Sprint termination should really be a value-based decision.

The reference to the Scrum Master having this competency in "Agile Project Management with Scrum" is possibly a typo, or it might be seen in the context of the Scrum Master performing an advisory role in this regard, as Jasper describes.

11:01 pm January 8, 2018

Also that book is super old and way out of date with current versions of Scrum.  For the most recent version of Scrum, see:

01:05 pm January 9, 2018

To me, it is very clear who can and cannot terminate a sprint; the Product Owner. It doesn't matter who gives advice to the PO, the adviser is not terminating the sprint. Dev team members can advise the PO of something they found that is a sprint killer but that doesn't mean the dev team has the authority to cancel a sprint. Advising to terminate and actually terminating are 2 very different things.

03:47 pm January 9, 2018

+1 to Curtis

Much more modern books that are closer to more recent versions of Scrum are:
This one by Gunther Verheyan:
And this one by Hiren Doshi:


08:05 am January 10, 2018

The most rational argument I heard about this is that if a Product Owner is responsible for the Product Backlog and the Sprint is cancelled against his or her will, the same items will most likely be waiting at the top of the backlog, and the cancellation will have achieved nothing.

08:42 pm January 10, 2018

Simon, that's a decent argument, but I don't think it's the one driving the reason only the PO can choose to cancel.  I think the driving reason is that the PO is the only one that evaluate if the cost of cancellation outweighs other options (i.e. it's a value/ROI decision),and the PO is the value optimizer in Scrum.

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