May 6, 2019

Five Questions for a Sprint Goal!

sprint goal

 

What is a Sprint Goal?

"The Sprint Goal is an objective that will be met within the Sprint through the implementation of the Product Backlog" (quote from the Scrum Guide).

The Sprint Goal is a phrase that can be used in many different ways:

  • The Development team uses it at every Daily Scrum, to inspect the work done and adapt the work left. The result of this inspection and adaptation is transparently visible in the Sprint Backlog

  • The Product Owner uses it to communicate with the Stakeholders and as a decision-making tool, when negotiating Sprint content with the Development Team or when he/she has to decide to continue or to cancel a Sprint

  • The Scrum Master to ensure that a Sprint Goal has been defined at the end of the Sprint Planning, in a transparent and clear way to everyone and that is frequently used for inspection and adaptation during a Sprint.

Have you clearly defined a Sprint Goal at the end of your Sprint Planning? Is this Sprint Goal understandable and transparent to everyone? Is it defined in a way that provides guidance and flexibility to the Development Team?

The aim of this article is to raise awareness on the importance of having a Sprint Goal defined and to provide some suggestions on how to create one.

Do you know how many times the term “Sprint Goal” is mentioned in the Scrum Guide? 27 times!

Why do we need a Sprint Goal?

A Scrum Team needs a Sprint Goal because it provides:

  • Purpose to the Scrum Team, because it answers the question: “Why are we building this increment?”

  • Guidance to the Development Team, because they can inspect it frequently, during a Sprint, so that undesirable variances can be detected sooner.

  • A reference for decision making to the Product Owner, because he/she can decide to cancel a Sprint if the Sprint Goal becomes obsolete.

When the Sprint Goal is defined?

The Sprint Goal is defined during the Sprint Planning by the Scrum Team. It remains valid for all the duration of the Sprint, otherwise the Sprint is cancelled by the Product Owner. Sprint Planning

How a Sprint Goal is defined?

A Sprint Goal is crafted by the collaboration of the Product Owner and the Development Team.

In the first part of the Sprint Planning (the “what” part), "the Product Owner discusses the objective that the Sprint should achieve and the Product Backlog items that, if completed in the Sprint, would achieve the Sprint Goal" (quote from the Scrum Guide).

With the stage set, the Development Team collaborates and negotiates with the Product Owner the work to be done in the Sprint. Together, they define and agree on a Sprint Goal.

Crafting a Sprint Goal won’t be natural in the first Sprints, some help and direction can be found in the Roman Pichler’s Sprint Goal template.

What are some examples of Sprint Goal?

Good Sprint Goal Examples:

  • Implement the Search functionality

  • Understand if we can integrate the Open Source solution XY to our Product

  • Experiment the use of new technology for the rebranding of the feature XY

Sprint Goals to reconsider:

  • Fix bugs #1234 and #3488

  • Implement the Search functionality and, if you have time, fix bug#3335 and bug#777 plus answer to the question made by the CIO on the past Sprint Review

  • Rewrite Java class ShopProcess

Reading suggestions

  • The Professional Product Owner by Don McGreal and Ralph Jocham

  • Agile Product Management With Scrum by Roman Pichler

References

The Scrum Guide refers to the Sprint Goal 27 times in 17 pages. It is so important that every role, event and artifact is in a way impacted or impacts the Sprint Goal.

The following table sums up how many times the Sprint Goal is mentioned in the Scrum Guide, in which paragraph and for which purpose.

Scrum Theory (1)

"Scrum users must frequently inspect Scrum and progress toward a Sprint Goal to detect undesirable variances."

The Sprint (3)

"During the Sprint no changes are made that would endanger the Sprint Goal."

"Sprints enable predictability by ensuring inspection and adaptation of progress toward a Sprint Goal"

"A Sprint would be cancelled if the Sprint Goal becomes obsolete"

Sprint Planning (11)

"The Product Owner discusses the objective that the Sprint should achieve and the Product Backlog items that, if completed in the Sprint, would achieve the Sprint Goal."

"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."

"Having set the Sprint Goal and selected the Product Backlog items for the Sprint, the Development Team decides how it will build this functionality into a "Done" product Increment during the Sprint."

"The Development Team should be able to explain to the Product Owner and Scrum Master how it intends to work as a self-organizing team to accomplish the Sprint Goal and create the anticipated Increment."

"The Sprint Goal is an objective set for the Sprint that can be met through the implementation of Product Backlog."

"The Sprint Goal gives the Development Team some flexibility regarding the functionality implemented within the Sprint."

"The selected Product Backlog items deliver one coherent function, which can be the Sprint Goal."

"The Sprint Goal can be any other coherence that causes the Development Team to work together rather than on separate initiatives."

"As the Development Team works, it keeps the Sprint Goal in mind."

"In order to satisfy the Sprint Goal, it [the Development Team] implements functionality and technology."

Daily Scrum (7)

"The Development Team uses the Daily Scrum to inspect progress toward the Sprint Goal."

"The Daily Scrum optimizes the probability that the Development Team will meet the Sprint Goal."

"[Daily Scrum] it focuses on progress toward the Sprint Goal."

"What did I do yesterday that helped the Development Team meet the Sprint Goal?"

"What will I do today to help the Development Team meet the Sprint Goal?"

"Do I see any impediment that prevents me or the Development Team from meeting the Sprint Goal?"

Sprint Backlog (4)

"The Sprint Backlog is the set of Product Backlog items selected for the Sprint, plus a plan for delivering the product Increment and realizing the Sprint Goal"

"The Sprint Backlog makes visible all the work that the Development Team identifies as necessary to meet the Sprint Goal"

"…the Sprint Backlog emerges during the Sprint. This emergence occurs as the Development Team works through the plan and learns more about the work needed to achieve the Sprint Goal."

"The Development Team tracks this total work remaining at least for every Daily Scrum to project the likelihood of achieving the Sprint Goal."