Sprint Planning Meeting

Determine which backlog items will be handled in the next sprint.

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Clock120 mins

In Scrum, projects are broken up into 2 or 4 week sprints. Sprint Planning initiates the sprint by deciding what work will be performed. The process is collaborative and should involve every team member.

Like any good meeting, an effective sprint planning meeting needs an agenda. The agenda is straight forward, but will keep your team focused and the meeting on track.

Depending on how long your sprints are you may want to increase the time spent during topics 3 and 4.


1. What's our availability? ( 5 mins )

Clarify team availability for the duration of the sprint, noting any vacations, out of office time, or other responsibilities (such as interviews or mentoring). Are there any public holidays or all-company events that might impact the sprint?

2. Why is this sprint valuable? ( 20 mins )

The Product Owner proposes how the value of the product could be increased during this Sprint. As a group decide on a 1-2 sentence description for the Sprint goal.

3. What can be done this sprint? ( 60 mins )

Go through the backlog and decide what items should be included in the sprint. Discuss confidence in estimate and scope for each item, making sure the description is accurate and everyone is aligned on the problem statement and definition of done.

4. How will the work get done? ( 30 mins )

Developers break up backlog items into work items of one day or less, to be picked up in the daily scrum.

5. How are we feeling about the sprint? ( 5 mins )

Round the room, red-yellow-green checkout. Each team member explains one thing they are worried about and one thing they are excited about for this sprint.

How to run an effective sprint planning meeting

Sprint planning meetings help teams define goals, build alignment, and tackle projects collaboratively. They’re a foundational part of agile development, providing a space for teams to come together and plan before the upcoming sprint.

Illustration of virtual sprint planning meeting

What is sprint planning?

In scrum, a sprint is a set period of time where work is done – typically 2 or 4 weeks in length. Each sprint begins with a sprint planning meeting to define focus, deliverables, and how it will all be accomplished.

During sprint planning, the team works together to determine a goal for the sprint and then individuals commit to work they plan to accomplish towards it. A good sprint planning meeting provides structure, sets expectations, and defines clear outcomes that help everyone on the team feel motivated and successful.

Sprint planning at a glance

Meeting purpose:
Define a goal for the upcoming sprint and determine how the team will work to achieve that goal.

Key inputs:

  • Proposed focus area: The product owner proposes a focus area, using sprint reviews and broader product goals to set the stage. This will help inform the sprint goal – defined collectively by the team during the meeting.
  • Product backlog: Once the sprint goal is defined, the team will review the product backlog and pull in relevant work items to be included in that cycle.
  • Team availability and bandwidth: To accurately scope work for the sprint, it’s important to keep current workloads and any upcoming PTO in mind too.

Who should attend a sprint planning meeting?

Sprint planning meetings should be a collaborative process, with the whole scrum team involved each time. Here’s a breakdown of attendees and their unique roles.

  • The product owner: The role of the product owner in sprint planning is to propose a focus area – suggesting how the value of the product could be increased during the sprint
  • The product team: The rest of the team determines what can be accomplished towards that focus area during the sprint. Together, they create a sprint goal and plan for how to get there. Anyone who will contribute to the work should be there – engineers, designers, content writers, researchers, and anyone else directly involved in the project so work can be accurately scoped.

Why run a sprint planning meeting?

Sprint planning helps teams work more effectively together and has a number of benefits.

  1. It gives everyone clear goals to work towards: During sprint planning, the whole team works together to define an achievable goal for that sprint. It helps the team know where to focus and what they’re trying to accomplish, and gives everyone a say in the process. Defining a clear goal at the beginning of the sprint also means you’ll have something tangible to reflect on when it’s over.
  2. It helps build alignment and autonomy: The collaborative nature of sprint planning ensures everyone on the team is bought-into what you’re trying to achieve and knows what they’re responsible for. It helps the whole team rally around a common goal and empowers individuals to scope, plan, and commit to work that helps the team get there.
  3. It boosts velocity and helps teams get more done: In scrum, velocity is the amount of work a team can accomplish during a sprint. Velocity will ebb and flow, but with regular sprint planning, you’ll get better at knowing what your team can accomplish in X amount of time and be able to build product timelines that are more achievable, realistic, and motivating for everyone on the team.

Tips to run an effective sprint planning meeting

Write a solid sprint goal: Your goal should be short (1-2 sentences) and clearly describe what the team is trying to accomplish by when. It should be written together, as a team, and then published so that team members and stakeholders can reference it. Your goal will come in handy later on too, as it helps you measure the success of your sprint during sprint review.

Example sprint goals:

  • Refactor onboarding wizard to increase signup completion by 10%
  • Increase customer satisfaction by providing a better way for customers to deliver feedback
  • Set up automated deployment pipeline and ship one release to production

Optimize your product backlog: The product backlog is a critical component of sprint planning, so it’s important that it reflects the most up-to-date, accurate information. Each backlog item should include: an estimate of project size and scope, a clear description of the work, and an agreed-upon definition of what “done” looks like. During sprint planning, you’ll break apart backlog items into smaller tasks that can be accomplished in one day or less.

Keep a pulse on how the team is feeling: Do teammates feel like the workload is achievable? What are they most concerned or excited about? Checking in on these items before you set out on your sprint can give you valuable qualitative insights to come back to during sprint review. It helps everyone feel heard and included, and empowers the whole team to more realistically scope work during future sprints too.

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