Improve Sprint Planning with Acceptance Criteria

Improving your Sprint Review with Acceptance Criteria

Let’s treat Scrum Events like Product Backlog Items. A good PBI has a clear Outcome, Who it is for, and Acceptance Criteria. 

SPRINT PLANNING

Outcome: The Scrum Team has alignment on the purpose and work needed to deliver on the Sprint Goal, which contributes to the Product Goal. 

Who is it for?: The Scrum Team

Acceptance Criteria:

  • Is the Sprint Goal a single objective? 
  • Does the Sprint Goal contribute to the Product Goal? 
  • Are Developers determining their capacity and how much work they can do?
  • Are the Developers making a plan for how they will complete the Product Backlog Items? 

Outcome: The goal of a Sprint is for the Scrum Team to turn “a selection of the work into an Increment of value during a Sprint.” 

To do this, the team needs to create a plan for delivering that value. We can’t magically go from ideas to finished work, especially when the work is complex. We need a cross-functional group of professionals to interact and determine how they will deliver that Increment of value.

At the end of a Sprint Planning, the Scrum Team should be able to answer these three questions clearly: 

  • Why are we doing this Sprint? (The Sprint Goal)
  • What are we doing to meet the Why? (The list of PBIs the team plans to do)
  • How will the work be done? (decomposing the work into smaller work items, aka tasking)

Who is it for?: The Scrum Team is a cohesive unit of (cross-functional) professionals focused on one objective at a time, the Product Goal. Sprint Planning is an event for this cross-functional group to determine the Why, What, and How. 

You might invite stakeholders or subject matter experts to your Sprint Planning. However, this event is not for them. Stakeholders and SMEs in Sprint Planning are there as resources for the Scrum Team to be more successful in their planning activities. Invite a Stakeholder when you have more questions about the user. Invite the Database architect when you’re about to tackle some difficult database work. 

Acceptance Criteria: Is the Sprint Goal a single objective? 

Acceptance Criteria: Does the Sprint Goal contribute to the Product Goal? 

  • If the Product Goal is a family reunion in Orlando, Florida, then 

Acceptance Criteria: Are Developers determining their capacity and how much work they can do?

  • The Developers are the only ones who can decide how much work they can take on in a Sprint. They are the experts on themselves and how much they can do. 
  • We don’t tell the Developers what they must do in Sprint Planning. Instead, we ask, ”Can you complete this in the Sprint?”

Acceptance Criteria: Are the Developers making a plan for how they will complete the Product Backlog Items? 

  • The Developers are accountable for creating a plan for how a Product Backlog Item will meet the Definition of Done. Quality doesn’t just magically happen, it’s planned in from the start. 

Making Sprint Planning better by treating them like a Product Backlog Item. 

This has been a 🦍 Gorilla Coach 🦍 Scrumdementals moment. Have a nice day. 

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