Planning your Sprint

With a given time window and people, how much can you pull off?

Many managers are requested to offer a plan. Knowing how much you can actually deliver is one of the toughest question managers need to face with. It’s too elusive to measure it correctly, and there are many moving parts. You need to please your customers and your teammates, creating a plan to deliver external and internal value, picking wisely what is really feasible.

I tried to come up with a few tips to make this process a bit more structured, making it less elusive, less daunting and less “we’ll see as we go”:

1. Pick by External Priority – what will make your customers happy? Make sure you have the right priority from product / business teams and give it high consideration in your planning. At the end of the day, you are here to provide value to your customers.

2. Pick by Internal Priority – making sure you are building confidence as part of your Sprint. You want to excel over time, you must devote the time to allow it.

3. Pick by Features Size – try to see how many features of each size you can deliver in a Sprint. For example, after 2-3 Sprints, you might notice that you’re usually able to do X big features, Y medium features and Z small features. Usually there is a connection between feature size and QA effort or deployment effort, thus making this size estimation very useful.

4. Pick by Velocity – if you know you’re able to complete X Story Points (or Ideal Days) every sprint, based on your last 2-3 Sprints, use this information to pick Features to fit this number give or take. I always believe that you should aim for ~120%, to allow positive pressure which encourages self-improvement ideas, but don’t aim for failure or naïve success. There is nothing to gain there.

5. Pick by Personal Growth – you might pick some features to allow inner growth in your team. For example, you might notice a need to strengthen one of your teammate’s leadership skills by allowing her/him to lead bigger features. It doesn’t mean you should act naively; organization needs is more important than personal whims, but the organization will never actively push toward personal growth as a goal. It’s up to you to make time for it.


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