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How to Run an Effective Sprint Planning Meeting [+ Free Template]

Learn how to run a sprint planning meeting with detailed roadmaps and discipline.

By Hannah Ross  •   March 18, 2022  •   6 min read

Running sprint planning meetings is a huge responsibility. These meetings set the framework for the entire upcoming sprint, meaning it’s imperative to be diligent and thorough in your approach. If you fail to run an inclusive sprint planning meeting, your teammates won’t be aligned, and your upcoming sprint may not yield favorable results.

In this article, we’ll dive into the specifics of planning for a sprint planning meeting, and we’ll teach you how to get your team to collaborate during the entire process. Running an effective sprint planning meeting will ensure your teammates know exactly what to expect. Nobody will be surprised when the sprint is finished, and the entire group responsible for the sprint will have everything they need to do their best work.  

What is a sprint planning meeting?

A sprint planning meeting is a meeting between the scrum master or planner and each one of the teammates involved in the sprint. These meetings are used to plan for the upcoming sprint, while diving into the tasks that each team member will be responsible for completing within the designated time frame. Sprint planning meetings are meant to be collaborative, so each teammate has the opportunity to have a say in what they work on or what projects they’ll be contributing to within the sprint. 

During these meetings, it’s important that everyone collaborates to determine the sprint specifics. Key decisions like the longevity of the sprint, the tasks within the sprint, and the time commitment for each task within the sprint need to be discussed and agreed upon before the sprint in discussion can begin.

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How to prepare for a sprint planning meeting: 

Preparing for a sprint planning meeting can be meticulous. If you keep these tips in mind, you’ll know how to run a sprint planning meeting with ease. First, remember that the product owner is responsible for the sprint. After you’ve determined who the product owner is, it’s time to dive into learned lessons from prior sprints. If you take the time to review past mistakes, your entire group will be less likely to repeat them in future sprints. Next, it’s time to gather feedback from your group and outline the key goal. After you’ve gathered everyone’s feedback and ensured everyone is on the same page, you can prep the backlog and determine how long you need for the meeting. Creating a thorough meeting agenda will help you see exactly how long you’ll need for your sprint planning meeting. 

You should also take this preparation time to ask the right questions. Key questions you’ll want to make sure you get the answers to include, but aren’t limited to: 

1.     How was the last sprint session overall?

2.     Did we choose the right items for the backlog?

3.     How did we do in determining the team’s commitment levels?

4.     Is there anything we need to change for the next sprint to make it even better?

7 steps to run a sprint planning meeting

1 Wrap up the previous sprint

Before you can kick off your next sprint, it’s important to wrap up your previous sprint in a positive manner. Acknowledging your teammates’ contributions and taking the time to express your gratitude for everyone’s hard work will ensure everyone goes into the upcoming sprint with a positive attitude. Not being encouraging and positive may discourage your teammates from doing their best work on future projects. 

Wrapping up your previous sprint before your next sprint begins is also imperative because it shows that you value your teammates’ time. If your teammates have too many tasks on the go, they may feel overwhelmed and will ultimately burnout. When planning for your future sprints, make sure to be conscious of your teammates’ availability and capacity. 

2 Share the big picture

If you want your teammates to feel inspired and driven, they need to collectively buy into the bigger picture. Sprint planning meetings offer a great opportunity to have open and honest conversations with the entire group responsible for collaborating within the upcoming sprint. During these meetings, it’s important to be transparent and clear. Take the time to share specific goals for the upcoming sprint and make sure that the entire group has a clear understanding of your expectations. 

3 Dive into updates, feedbacks, and issues

Learning how to run a sprint planning meeting can be difficult, but like any meeting, you can run with the fundamentals. These sprint meetings allow you to dive into updates, share feedback, and address any issues or concerns with the entire group. As a manager or leader within your organization, you’re most likely the liaison between your team and higher ups or key stakeholders, meaning these meetings offer the perfect opportunity for you to pass on any information or feedback you’ve received. 

Sprint planning meetings are also a great opportunity for your teammates to speak up and address their questions or concerns. If you proceed to work on a new sprint without giving your teammates the opportunity to weigh in, you may not get the meeting results you were hoping for. 

4 Minimize surprises

Minimizing surprises helps minimize stress and ensures everyone is on the same page and set up for success. Take the time to confirm your team’s availability so they aren’t surprised or overwhelmed by tasks that don’t align with their schedule. This is also a great time to update any new team members or go over responsibilities. If your teammates’ responsibilities have changed since the previous sprint, it’s important you be transparent and let them know. Additionally, set deadlines that everyone agrees on. If you set concrete deadlines without letting your teammates know, the deadlines may sneak up on them before they have the opportunity to complete the tasks within the sprint. 

5 Ask questions

Sprint planning meetings are great for asking questions! Your key questions may include: 

·       Do you have any questions regarding your tasks? 

·       What do you require to complete your assigned tasks? 

·       Do you have everything you need to succeed in the sprint? 

·       Are the timelines and deadlines specified in the sprint feasible? 

·       Do you have any feedback or concerns regarding your tasks outlined in the sprint? 

6 Assign tasks

This item may seem like a given, although many leaders fail to assign tasks during the sprint planning meeting. Instead, they assign the tasks on their own time and fail to include their teammates, resulting in confusion and discontent. Your teammates should have a say when it comes to their assigned tasks, so it’s extremely important to assign the tasks while everyone is meeting and discussing the sprint together. 

7 Start the sprint

Now that you’ve successfully held an effective sprint planning meeting, it’s time to start the sprint! Holding a meeting before kicking off the sprint means everyone has an equal opportunity to weigh in and contribute to the final outline. Before you move forward, make sure that everyone is aligned and confirms what they’ll be responsible for in the upcoming sprint. Doing so will eliminate confusion while ensuring everyone’s on the same page and ready to confidently conquer the sprint! 

Free sprint planning template

How to run a sprint planning meeting with confidence

When it comes to running a successful sprint, sprint planning meetings are the key to success. Sprints must be thorough, since they act as the framework for your entire team to complete their weekly or monthly tasks. Taking the time to host an effective sprint planning meeting will ensure your teammates know exactly what’s expected of them. Without clear expectations and guidelines that can be found within a sprint, your teammates would not be able to work efficiently, so clearly communicating with your team will make your sprint as effective as possible! 

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