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The 11 Advantages of Using a Sprint Goal

March 6, 2016

When facilitating a Scrum Master training, the Sprint Goal is a topic that often causes a good discussion. Participants question the background, purpose and advantages of using a Sprint Goal. In this blog post I'll describe the concept in more detail, explain why using a Sprint Goal is important and how to choose an efficient goal.

What is a Sprint Goal?

The Sprint Goal is an objective set for the Sprint that can be met through the implementation of Product Backlog. Sprint goals are the result of a negotiation between the Product Owner and the Development Team. Sprint Goals should be specific and measurable. While the selected work for the Sprint Backlog represents a forecast, the Development Team gives their commitment to achieving the Sprint Goal.

Could You Give Some Examples?

Although I've stated that Sprint Goals should be specific and measurable I don't mean SMART. Just prevent the goals become to vague. But some examples might be:

  • Get feature X ready for release (hereby the Sprint Goal is delivering a feature)

  • Check if the architecture enables the desired performance (hereby the Sprint Goal is addressing a risk)

  • Test if users are willing to register before using the product features (hereby the Sprint Goal is testing an assumption)

Why Using a Sprint Goal?

An effective Sprint Goal...

  1. Serves to test assumptions, address risks or deliver features

  2. Ensures a focused Daily Scrum because the Development Team can use it to inspect their progress

  3. Provides guidance to the Development Team on why it is building the Increment

  4. Offers flexibility regarding the functionality implemented within the Sprint

  5. Helps setting priorities when "the going gets tough"

  6. Fosters teamwork and teambuilding by jointly working towards a shared Sprint Goal

  7. Supports the Product Owner in creating the product roadmap

  8. Stimulates Product Backlog cohesion when planning a release

  9. Can be used as an instrument for stakeholder management

  10. Supports a focused Sprint Planning by crafting a shared Sprint Goal

  11. Enables efficient decision-making

How to Choose a Sprint Goal?

To determine what the Sprint Goal should be, Roman Pichler offers three questions to consider:

  1. Why do we carry out the Sprint? Why is it worthwhile to run a sprint? What should be achieved?

  2. How do we reach its goal? Which artefact, validation technique, and test group are used?

  3. How do we know the goal has been met? For instance at least three of the five users carry out the usability test successfully in less than a minute

Check Roman's the Sprint Goal template for more information.

Wrap Up

In this blog post I've described the advantages of using an effective Sprint Goal. If you're convinced about the advantages but struggle with choosing a Sprint Goal, I hope the part based on Roman Pichler's ideas gives you some more guidance. If you've got any other questions, feel free to share them.

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