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March 10, 2023

The guide to Sprints in Scrum

Hybrid Management Project Management
Aleksandra Szmit Content Writer

As you may or may not know, there are 4 Scrum Events. We’ve already gone over a vast majority of them, so let’s quickly recap before diving into an explanation of the Sprint.

The 4 Scrum Events are Sprint Planning, Daily Scrum, Sprint Review, and the Sprint Retrospective. Below you can find a swift reminder of each. (If you’re looking for more information about each one of them, click on the links that will redirect you to dedicated articles on each Event.)

  1. Sprint Planning – As the name suggests, it is the planning stage, where the whole Team lays out the foundation for further development of the project. It makes it easier for everyone involved to be certain about their tasks and workloads. In a productive meeting session, you will establish two main things – a Sprint Goal and Sprint Backlog.
  2. Daily Scrum – It is a very quick and effective meeting (takes up to 15 minutes) and is performed on each day of the Sprint. It aims to ensure that everyone within the Team is on the same page. It is an overview of completed tasks and those that require completion.
  3. Sprint Review – This Event occurs right before the Sprint Ends. It aims to review the work which was done during the duration of the Sprint. More precisely, its objective is to analyze the sprint’s outcomes and think about future modifications or improvements.
  4. Sprint Retrospective – Commonly mistaken for the Sprint Review, but the Retrospective actually differs. It happens right after the Sprint finishes and aims to reflect on what has happened during the whole Sprint – what went well, what didn’t, and what could be improved.

Now that we have an idea of all of the Scrum Events, let’s focus on the Sprint itself.

What is a Sprint?

A Sprint is what all of the Events revolve around. Without a Sprint, none of these would take place. It is sort of a ‘container’ for all Events of the Sprint. According to the Scrum Guide, “Sprints are the heartbeat of Scrum, where ideas are turned into value.”

So, a Sprint is a ‘structure’ which allows the Team to establish frameworks, collect data within the team and count the capacity. Then, based on the averaged velocity, it is possible to determine how many sprints you’ll need to finish the project. But most of all, it is about reacting to changes, as they do happen along the way.

But referring back to the Sprint in Scrum. What are some of the essential things you must know?

A visual representation of what a Sprint is: consists of a circle with arrows and phases that show the different stages of a Sprint.Scrum recap

We’ve touched upon the subject in the intro, but let’s go into a bit more detail. So, if you’re new to the Scrum Sprint framework, here are some of the things you may need to know.

Scrum is a lean framework, which you can interpret as a philosophy, theory, or structure. It aims to support people, teams, companies, and projects. It is based on three main empirical Scrum pillars, which are:

  • Transparency
  • Inspection
  • Adaptation

Scrum is a way of achieving goals and creating value through the collective intelligence of the people involved. Therefore, it provides a structure for a Team to work together effectively. So, a Scrum Sprint basically merges and acts as a containment for the four official events.

The aim of a Sprint

So, according to the 2020 Scrum Guide, “sprints enable predictability by ensuring inspection and adaptation of progress toward a Product Goal at least every calendar month.”

A Sprint is a technique for organizing the job into smaller, more manageable pieces. Sprints give the Team a chance to work on a certain set of elements or features, allowing them to concentrate on providing a particular set of functions.

This means that Sprints keep the Team on track, motivating them to ask questions such as “what is the purpose?” and “what is our goal?”. The Sprint Backlog, which includes a list of tasks required to complete the Sprint Goal, serves as a record of the work that will be completed within a certain Sprint.

How long is a Sprint?

A Sprint is a time-boxed Scrum Event during which the Scrum Team works solely on the Sprint goal. One Sprint doesn’t necessarily have to be the time frame for a whole project. In order to complete a project, you might do three Sprints or even twenty. All of this depends on the size of the project, amount of tasks, the number of people involved, etc. It’s important to remember that immediately after the completion of a preceding Sprint, a new Sprint begins.

The standard length of the Sprint is four weeks or less (two to four weeks long). It varies due to the different needs of the Team and the project. When planning the length of a Sprint, you should take into consideration things such as the complexity of the project or the capacity of the Team. Although this may also change during the Sprint for the same reasons. As the Scrum Guide specifies “Shorter Sprints can be employed to generate more learning cycles and limit the risk of cost and effort to a smaller time frame. Each Sprint may be considered a short project.”

Stages of a Sprint

We have already established the stages of the Sprint in the previous articles of the series and within the quick summary at the top of the article. To make it all nice and clear and have an accessible summary, we’ve composed a graphic to present all the vital information in the clearest possible way.

We hope that this graphic allows you to have a clearer view of the Scrum Events which make up the Sprint.

A graphic presenting the differences of the aims and benefits of stages of a Sprint. That is: Sprint Planning, the Daily Scrum, Sprint Review and Sprint Retrospective.First-time Sprint

If you haven’t had previous experience with Scrum or Scrum Sprints, here are some useful tips.

Before you start a Sprint, you should learn some more about it and the idea of Scrum and analyze if it is something that will work for you, your Team, and your project. If it does, then make sure not only do you understand the concept of Scrum, but that your Team is also in the known.

Once everyone knows what it is that they are in for, it’s best to plan your actions and tasks. Therefore, create a roadmap, consult with stakeholders to add, review, and prioritize items in the product backlog, and plan a reasonable increment depending on the capabilities of your team. Then, you can start Sprint Planning and remember to obey the principles of Scrum and have regular Daily Scrums, etc.

What changes can you make during a Sprint?

The Scrum Team has a lot of space to get better at their workflow after each Sprint. Therefore, determining the adjustments that need to be made during the Sprint is quite crucial.

  • You can refine the Product Backlog.
  • You might also redefine or clarify the work’s scope.
  • However, you shouldn’t make any adjustments that might make the Sprint Aim impossible to attain.
    For example, you cannot drastically alter the features of the activities that you must complete within a Sprint or lower the number of tasks that you must complete. The Sprint Goal and the Sprint are closely connected. Thus, you shouldn’t stop the Sprint when the Goal changes.

Now that you know what can and can’t be changed in the duration of a Sprint, let’s put the knowledge you’ve learned into practice.

Sprints in Jira

In Jira, you can easily create a Sprint by going to the Backlog of your Scrum project. Then, you can “Create a Sprint” with just one button click. Here is a good moment to discuss the commitments with your Team. Once you’ve created your Sprint, you can fill it with stories from the backlog. When you decide to start your Sprint, make sure you remember to update the Sprint name, add a Sprint goal and set the start and end date of your Sprint. If you’d like to learn more about setting and tracking Sprint Goals in Jira, take a look at our article about this.

To sum up

A Sprint is the heartbeat of the Scrum Events. The various stages help to keep things organized and everyone on track and provide timelines and frameworks on the progress of a specific project. The Scrum Events help in the organization of the Sprint.

The Sprint is an effective and collaborative way of working together in boxed periods of time. Essentially, you can consider each Sprint as a short project.

We hope that with this article, you now understand the concept of Scrum and a Sprint and that with the help of our other Scrum Events, you’ll be confident in conducting a Scrum Sprint and all its elements correctly.