Recently with my team we had a discussion about the use of Scrum and what should be the sprint length.
I was not very polite in presenting my ideas based on experience, so I decided to collect them and use this space to write them down and explain my motivations.
I’m not a Scrum Master and I don’t have any certification about it but I can tell you practically what worked and didn’t work in my previous projects. I have also read several blogs and I agree with this approach.
Let’s start from the beginning, What are Agile and Scrum ?
Agile is a development methodology based on iterative and incremental approach.
Scrum is one of the implementations of agile methodology, is a framework for developing, delivering, and sustaining complex products.
I will immediately answer the question so you don’t have to read everything but I would rather you did.
What should be the Sprint Length?
Simple, for me 2-3 weeks. This approach always worked and is still working. Why ?
- 2 week cycles create and maintain a sense of urgency within the scrum team.
- If sprint lengths are of 4 weeks then chances of the teams losing focus or wandering away is higher.
- Sprint review and retrospectives are far more meaningful when you have 2-3 week sprints.
- When a team is new or developers do not have the same experience/skills, shorter Sprints help the team learn its capacity/velocity faster.
I know that working in 1-2 week Sprints can be more stressful at first but you can only improve on it.
These are some tips on how to decide the Length of the Sprint:
What is a Sprint?
Sprint is a time-box of one month or less during which a “Done”, useable, and potentially releasable product Increment is created (From the Scrum Guide).
Who decides the Sprint Length?
The Scrum team decides the length of the Sprint (PO, Scrum Master and the development team). The Scrum Master acts a facilitator/coach to help the team arrive at a consensus but very important is the Product Owner responsible for the Release Planning and this can be a parameter to evaluate the length of the sprint.
How to define the Length of the Sprint?
1) Based on Release Planning.
If a product needs to be released every week, Sprint Length should be 1 week (simple). 2 weeks, Sprint Length 2 weeks (Ideal), 3 week, Sprint Length 3 Weeks (Ideal), Once in 4 week – Sprint Length = 4 Weeks (Largest), More ? You don’t need Scrum…
Conclusion – The Smaller the release cycle the smaller should be sprint
2) Based on Inspection and Adaptation.
Are for you these questions very important? How often the product needs feedback? How often the process needs to be fine-tuned?
Conclusion – The faster the product needs feedback the smaller should be the sprint.
3) Based on Team Expertise.
Sometimes you want to buy a Ferrari but you don’t have the drivers to run it. If the team does not have enough expertise to deliver the product then learn and implement and probably it’s better to adopt 2 or 3-week observation sprint and check with indicators of the team performance based on the PO and stakeholders feedback.
Conclusion: Lower is the team expertise, longer is the sprint length.
So now what should be the Sprint Length? Have you thought about it ? I do not want to convince you that this is the best approach, so always try, test and then evaluate.
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Thanks for reading!
Reference: The Scrum Guide