Sprint Goal - how to define?

Last post 10:36 am April 11, 2019
by Eugene M
21 replies
01:40 pm June 16, 2015

Spring Goal - how to define... Lets imagine a team working on a eCommerce site. During the sprint planning meeting, in cooperation with product owner they decide to do:
- implementation of new kPal payment platform
- adding multiple products to a basket
- providing useful product suggestion to a registered users who already bought something (others who bought this also bought...)
- access to old invoices

4 completely different things... How can I help the team to define the sprint goal?

My insights...
- Creating a sprint goal which contains 4 different pbi's is not well seen by the team (actually they would love to define the sprint goal as only one of above increments, but they know they can do much more during the sprint)
- Creating a sprint goal connecting all above pbi's in one linguistically correct sentence is nearly impossible
- During sprint planing team couldn't decide to do different set of pbi's (that might connect better as a sprint goal)

I've searched dozens of websites, blogs, books etc, but nobody writes about good practises of defining Sprint Goal (in similar, easier or more complicated cases).

Please advice.

03:10 pm June 16, 2015

Presumably the Product Owner values the aggregate contribution of the 4 items, and would like to receive an increment with this functionality.

Since each one of the items provides a user experience, we may infer the existence of a valid workflow, storyboard, or user journey that encompasses them all. The PO should wish to see this demonstrated no later than the Sprint Review because it would evidence useful aggregated functionality. For example, it might be a user receiving product suggestions, adding these items, submitting a payment, and then reviewing invoices.

Those are all separate PBI's, but they can be drawn together into a storyboard that represents a potentially valid user journey through the system. That journey is a single coherence and as such it could be a potential Sprint Goal.

03:22 pm June 21, 2015

The sprint goal could be "create a self-service transactional solution which allows customers to browse and buy products, provide recommendations and adminster/manage their own accounts"

11:28 am September 29, 2016

I would like to upvote this topic that was sadly abandoned by OP.

I'm facing the same problems here, we're working on one topic but at first sight it is challenging us to "bracket" 4 or 6 PBIs into one consolidated Sprint Goal.

The user scenario approach than Ian depicts is interesting.
The attempt here above sounds to me like a cumbersome way of putting all these 4 PBIs in one sentence. Having one sentence doesn't make it a goal.

11:32 am September 29, 2016

If I look at this article for instance, the first example just doesn't sound like what a Sprint Goal is meant for

Sprint Goal: Complete Five User Stories and Fix All Production Bugs

This is just a statistical and purposeless description of the sprint.


02:27 pm September 29, 2016

Have a look at this article I wrote last year on "Sprint Goals in Practice":


08:37 am September 30, 2016

Thank you guys for the ideas. I really appreciate your help.

07:27 am April 4, 2018

Hi All,


I face a similar issue every sprint. To give you all a background, we have 4 small tools/applications against which we have 1 PO, 1 SM (me) and a dev team (3 developers + 1 tester). We do a 2-week sprint that has a max of 10 working days or less depending on any public or company holiday during that time. We pick up stories considering the no. of days and resources available.

In our backlog refinement sessions, we groom the prioritized stories and estimate them too. In the sprint planning meeting, I don't define the sprint goal since I am not aware of what that can be so I skip it and pick the top stories depending on the capacity planning shared by the dev team and formulate the sprint backlog. This is in consensus with everyone in the team. 

But I don't define sprint goal. It ain't impacting anything but I know I am skipping a process. Can someone please guide me how to define the goal and where to mention it.






01:48 pm April 4, 2018

In my team we use JIRA to manage backlogs, and for a sprint backlog we are able to set a big, visible header / title that contains a sprint goal. A good think with a sprint goal is that allows you some space to move around obstacles you might encounter while working on stories from the sprint backlog. Suppose one of the stories was hugely underestimated, and you know you cannot deliver everything that was forecasted - in this scenario, having sprint goal in mind, you sit down with the PO and decide what has to be kept to still deliver the sprint goal, and what needs to go.

We always try to pick something that is meaningful for the team as a sprint goal, but it does not have to be 100% of the sprint backlog. For example, a sprint goal can be to implement feature A, while other tasks will be about fixing bug B and doing less important feature C...

06:11 pm April 4, 2018


Is the work that the team forecasts each sprint somehow tied together under a common theme/benefit, or is the work a list of high-priority but loosely or non-connected items?

You will struggle with formulating a Sprint Goal (or reaping the full benefit of Scrum) if the majority of the items each sprint do not fall under a larger initiative.   Kanban, or Scrumban, or Scrum with Kanban, may be alternatives then to Scrum.

07:19 am April 5, 2018

Thanks all for reverting.

In total, we have a scrum team in India that take cares of 4 small tools/application. Collectively they form a big project but individually we could not have had a dedicated scrum team for each. 

We usually try not to pick up stories that are from all the 4 systems in one single sprint. We target either 1 system or max 2. It all depends on how the business prioritizes the stories. Sometimes, we have picked up stories from all 4 tools, where few minor (1 or 2 pointers) stories are picked up from few systems however the major functionality goes in the rest of the 2 tools. 

Is that ok if my sprint goal doesn't talk about the features that are estimated at 1 or 2? And we can only use the important feature as sprint goal. If that's the case, then what if there is an issue in delivering the low pointer stories.




11:52 am November 28, 2018

I think the situation of selecting divergent PBIs in a sprint is not a sprint planning issue, but a backlog management fault. Product backlog should be prioritized based on a road-map that is broke to short-time milestones and sprint goals are mapped to those short-time milestones.

By this definition almost all PBIs selected for a sprint inherently have connection with each other.

09:37 pm November 28, 2018

In a previous team, we had not been setting Sprint Goals.

When we eventually tried, we found it uncomfortable. Our goals seldom felt useful, weren't something we would pay attention to, and took a lot of energy from the team, as we wrestled with various sentence constructions, and had existential arguments about the point of our Sprints.

The most obvious conclusion was that Sprint Goals were a waste of time; but eventually they helped us realize that our main problem was a lack of focus. We were task oriented, and weren't able to look at what we were doing as part of a broader purpose.

Push yourself to set good Sprint Goals – especially if it hurts.


06:08 pm November 29, 2018


Sprint goal seems to be as much difficult as important thing in scrum process. 

In reality if we have no a goal for sprint so what do we want to achieve at the end of sprint time.

I totally agree with Esmaeil Vakili. PO is responsible for product backlog, sprint backlog and he or she has to define a sprint goal in appropriate way.

Sprint goal is this thing which is in my opinion most important thing for the scrum team and creates a sense of its being. There is no more important thing for a team than one common goal and cooperate focusing on it. 

10:16 am November 30, 2018

Push yourself to set good Sprint Goals – especially if it hurts.

Good one Simon. We also have a hard time with Sprint Goal Definition, due to most of the factors mentioned above. As you mention, this is most likely a symptom of a much larger problem.

02:52 pm December 5, 2018

I totally agree with Esmaeil Vakili. PO is responsible for product backlog, sprint backlog and he or she has to define a sprint goal in appropriate way.


I beg to differ:

  • The Sprint Backlog is a highly visible, real-time picture of the work that the Development Team plans to accomplish during the Sprint, and it belongs solely to the Development Team.
  • During Sprint Planning the Scrum Team also crafts a Sprint Goal. 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
08:55 pm April 6, 2019

If you're a Scrum Master don't wait until the last 15 minutes of Sprint Planning and expect the entire team (PO & DT) to define a meaningful and believable sprint goal.

Instead, during the Product Backlog Refinement or Product Backlog Grooming session(s) ask the entire team to start thinking about what the Sprint Goal might look like based on the PBIs being reviewed. 

Prior to Sprint Planning, set aside the time for a brainstorming session with the PO in order to define his/her Sprint Goal.

In most cases the PO's Sprint Goal is a reflection of the his/her vision which when presented to the DT, during Sprint Planning, serves not only as a conversation catalyst when the time comes for the DT to define their Sprint Goal, but also conveys to the individual DT members the value and meaning behind the work they are committing to. 



02:20 pm April 9, 2019

Good approaches Michael.

I also follow the PO "vision" angle in helping my teams craft meaningful Sprint Goals.   A common strategy I use is to have them pretend that they're on an elevator when the CEO walks in and asks what they're working on.   Can they capture an "Elevator Pitch" statement that captures why they're even executing a sprint?   

I also coach them to focus on business value being targeted, and away from the "how" of what they intend to do.   Starting Sprint Goal statements with value-based action verbs like "Improve", "Enhance", "Eliminate", "Provide", etc. helps greatly.

11:21 am April 10, 2019

Unlike Michael and Timothy, my practice is to delay the discussions or the draft sprint goal(s) (if two or more are on the table) until the most relevant catch up (review) happens.

In my opinion, while there is, surely, significant value is being proactive, I'd say product backlog refinement has different goals, and rather than thinking about what the next sprint goal might be, I'd like the team to be focused on actually refinining the backlog - discussing, understanding, asking and questioning, cooperating, defending or contending opinions, and ultimately estimating.

The review (or right after it), to me, is the best place to discuss about how the next sprint goal might look like, and being right before the sprint planning, the information is fresh, reliable and with no waste incurred. Then it's up to the DT to see what's achievable.

02:15 pm April 10, 2019

It seems that all of my teams do it slightly different than the others.

One will craft the goal at the beginning of Planning based on their knowledge of the targeted increment for release and their past refinement sessions. This helps the team focus on getting a set of stories that will deliver a working increment that takes them towards the "release" increment. 

Another crafts the goal at the end of Planning just before starting the Sprint. They say it gives one last chance to ensure that they are all on the same page. If there is confusion/disagreement on the goal, they will discuss and have actually redone the Sprint Backlog.

A third crafts their goal at various times during the Review/Retrospective/Planning cycle based on their gut feel for when it makes most sense for them.  

Are any of these wrong? I say no because it works for that team. 

I like all of the discussion that has occurred on this thread over the past 4 years. It has given me some insights that I can use when a team is forming or is having trouble with Sprint Goals.  Thanks to all.

02:40 pm April 10, 2019


Just to clarify, my teams craft their Sprint Goals during Sprint Planning.   They are not discussed beforehand (i.e.c - refinement).   

However, I do work with the PO during each sprint to help them identify and prioritize future work, and to begin thinking about their "vision" for upcoming sprints.

10:36 am April 11, 2019

I definitely misunderstood you, Timothy! Thanks for clarifying :)