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Do you have any idea how many times the term ‘ Sprint Goal ‘ is mentioned in the Scrum Guide ?

  • 27 times, yes !

That’s humongous number ! In a 17 page Scrum guide, why is the ‘Sprint Goal’ mentioned 27 times? What does this say about the significance, value and the power of the Sprint Goal? The Sprint Goal impacts every role, artifacts and events, one way or the other. Yet, it is one of the elements of Scrum that is often forgotten, misunderstood and dis-respected.

Let’s understand the importance of a ‘ Sprint Goal ‘ and how it helps the Scrum Team.

  1. “What” is a Sprint Goal?

(Quote from Scrum Guide) An objective that will be met within the Sprint, through the implementation of the Product Backlog.

  1. “How” does the Sprint Goal help the Scrum Team(ST)?
  • The Development Team(DT) uses the Sprint Goal at every Daily Scrum to inspect its progress (towards it) and adapt the Sprint Backlog. This helps them to re-plan collaboratively and focus on the daily work (until the next Daily Scrum) to accomplish the Sprint Goal.
  • The Product Owner(PO) uses the Sprint Goal as an overarching objective to communicate with the stakeholders and also to re-negotiate the scope of the Sprint Backlog with the DT as more is learned.
  • The Scrum Master(SM) enables that a clear, transparent, focused and synergistic Sprint Goal is created by the ST during the Sprint Planning and it is empirically inspected and adapted throughout the Sprint.
  • The ST commits to the Sprint Goal and forecasts the Product Backlog items that it will deliver to accomplish the Sprint Goal and create the anticipated Increment at the end of the Sprint.
  1. “Why” does a Scrum Team need a Sprint Goal?

A ST needs a Sprint Goal as it provides:

  • Focus to the DT on ‘why’ it is building the Increment? Provides them flexibility regarding the functionality implemented within the Sprint.
  • Reference to the PO for making any value based decisions, and aids him/her to cancel the Sprint if in case the Sprint Goal becomes obsolete(due to company changing direction, market/technology changes, changing business conditions etc).
  • Insight to the DT to frequently inspect their progress and adapt their work to maximize their probability of achieving the goal.
  1. “When” is the Sprint Goal defined? By whom?

The ST collaboratively crafts the Sprint Goal during the Sprint Planning and it remains static and valid during the Sprint.

  1. “How” is the Sprint Goal defined?

In the first part (‘what’ part) of the Sprint Planning, the PO discusses the objective the Sprint should achieve and the Product Backlog items that, if completed in the Sprint would achieve the Sprint Goal. The selected Product Backlog items deliver one coherent function or the Sprint Goal can be any other coherence that causes the DT to work together rather than on separate initiatives. The DT collaborates and negotiates with the PO, to define the work that can be done in the Sprint. Together they craft and agree on a meaningful Sprint Goal.

  1. Examples of a Sprint Goal?

Good examples:

  • Implement the ‘pause and play’ functionality
  • Make the ‘catch up live’ functionality work in Android based solution, in addition to IOS.
  • Improve the response time of application by 20%, from the current state( 185ms/request).
  • Investigate if we can integrate our open source solution ABC with our feature.
  • Experiment the use of new technology to rebrand our ‘vault storage’ feature.

Not so good examples:

  • Fix the defects #186 and # 249.
  • Implement the JIRA user stories #AMB343, #AMB482
  • Rewrite Java class API DataExport
  • Implement the search functionality, fix the defects #231 and #238. Plus answer all the questions raised by the users during the previous Sprint Review.

Does your Scrum Team have a collaboratively defined Sprint Goal at the end of the Sprint Planning? Is this Sprint Goal understandable and transparent to everyone?

Is it defined in a way that provides focus and flexibility to the Development Team?

References :

Scrum Guide(www.scrumguides.org)

Learning articles by fellow Professional Scrum Trainer, Fabio Panzavolta from Scrum.Org Agile Product Management with Scrum by Roman Pichler.

Bharath