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What is a sprint?

Update: Jira project types have been renamed. A Classic project, such as the one featured in this article, is now called a Company-managed project. A Next-gen project, is now called a Team-managed project.


Sprints help Scrum teams deliver work with continuous feedback loops, often resulting in much higher quality end results. In this article we cover the elements of a sprint and how they work.

READ TIME: 3 minutes

This article created October 2020

What you’ll learn 

  • Introduction: What’s a sprint
  • Visualizing sprints with boards 
  • The sprint backlog or “to-do” list 
  • Planning the sprint: Estimation 
  • The sprint goal: Why have one? 

Introduction: What’s a sprint?

Teams that have opted to work within a Scrum framework commit to shipping working software (or other deliverables) through a sequence of set intervals called sprints—usually in timeframes of two to four weeks

The goal of sprints is to create a continuous loop to quickly gather customer feedback, which is then factored into the next sprint. 

Shorter sprints create an opportunity for more adaptation. Longer sprints allow for more work to be done in a single increment. It's up to the team to decide on the appropriate sprint length. 

Related resources:

Visualizing sprints with boards

Sprints are most often represented visually using a digital kanban board or Scrum board.

Issues in the product backlog, or issues that are assigned to other sprints, are not shown on the board. Even in Scrum projects, boards are often called kanban boards, so don't be confused if you hear that term related to a sprint.

The Jira Scrum board is the single source of truth for all the work a team needs to deliver during a sprint. Much more than a task board, a Jira Scrum board:

  • Increases communication and transparency
  • Promotes sprint planning and iterative development
  • Improves team focus and organization

Related resource:

The sprint backlog, or “to-do” list

The list of issues to be completed during the sprint is called the sprint backlog

The sprint backlog includes a plan on how to accomplish the work of the issues. In Jira, this usually means that before starting the actual sprint, more details are added to the issues in the sprint backlog. 

Those details describe how the work of the issues will be done. Some of those details can be added during the sprint, as the team learns more about the issues.

Planning the sprint: Estimation

Successful sprint plans require an accurate idea of how many issues can be completed during a sprint. 

Scrum teams commonly estimate how much work (or effort) an issue will take using story points. In Jira, you can use story points, hours, issue count, or create your own estimation statistic. 

Story points are a relative measure of the amount of work required to complete an issue. For example, an issue that is assigned two story points is assumed to involve about twice as much effort as an issue that is assigned one story point. 

In this example, you can see that story points are shown in the gray circles to the right of the issues.


Related resources:

The sprint goal: Why have one?

Projects are complex, and even though the sprint duration is relatively short, the team can’t predict the future and will learn and adjust during the sprint. There has to be flexibility somewhere. 

The sprint goal remains fixed during the sprint, but the issues that achieve the sprint goal can be modified as long as quality is not decreased. As such, there is flexibility in the makeup of the sprint backlog as the sprint is worked on

The sprint goal (see below) helps the team make informed decisions about how to adapt to new knowledge and situations. Rather than basing decisions on details or immediate tasks, the sprint goal is intended to keep the focus on the outcome of the project.

How to add or edit a sprint goal

To add or edit a goal for an existing sprint, go to the Backlog page and select More > Edit sprint. 


Note: You can only edit sprints that have not been completed. You can also include a sprint goal when starting a new sprint.

Continue learning

This is a general overview of a sprint, and a bit about how to work with them, inside Jira.


Taranjeet Singh Community Leader Dec 06, 2020

Nice explanation of basics!

Like # people like this

Great to send for our end-users that info :)

Like Dorin Shen likes this
G subramanyam Community Leader May 01, 2021

Scrum=Jira and Jira=Scrum + Kanban

Like Dorin Shen likes this

Really loving these basics as a quick reference to come back to when trying to explain things to users. 

Thanks for this! 

Like Dorin Shen likes this


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