You're on your way to the next level! Join the Kudos program to earn points and save your progress.
Level 1: Seed
25 / 150 points
1 badge earned
Challenges come and go, but your rewards stay with you. Do more to earn more!
What goes around comes around! Share the love by gifting kudos to your peers.
Keep earning points to reach the top of the leaderboard. It resets every quarter so you always have a chance!
Join now to unlock these features and more
The Atlassian Community can help you and your team get more value out of Atlassian products and practices.
If you’re working in Scrum, you probably already know that Sprint Planning is one of the most important elements of every successful project. It’s a blueprint creation room, a space where all things fall into their place to build an efficient and effective plan for the chosen period of time. But with great importance come great challenges.
If you were to build a house, would you just mess around and find out, or would you prefer to first have a solid plan? We dare to assume that the latter option is more likely for you to choose. Building a house is a complex process that requires many elements in order to work out. Each of these elements needs to be coordinated to support the main goal.
You also most probably won’t build the house on your own. A big project like this needs a team of people specializing in different areas that will be responsible for specific parts and phases of your build. These people need a plan in order to cooperate successfully. And not just any plan, but a plan that will be reasonable, comprehensive, and detailed enough to meet the needs of the individuals your team is composed of. Without such a plan, your work will lack essential structure and soon or later it’s going to fall into chaos.
In the world of tight schedules and blazing deadlines, chaos is the last thing you want to deal with. In the long term, only the ones who know how to work efficiently will stay afloat. The elements of the Scrum framework are designed to make it easier. Organizing your work within specific time frames gives it more structure, and increases the level of focus on the goals and priorities established during the Sprint Planning.
However, in order for Sprint Planning to be actually helpful, it must be conducted properly and with the help of team planning tools that support collaborative work. If you want to find out more about what challenges your team is likely to encounter during Sprint Planning, and how these issues can be addressed to increase productivity and effectiveness, this article might be interesting to you.
When it comes to Sprint Planning, there certainly are a handful of general good practices that can increase effectiveness, such as delegating task ownership or transparent planning. However, the overall success of planning is dependent not only on the general productivity of the team, but also on the comfort and the engagement of each individual involved. This aspect of planning can be easily overlooked, since it is natural to think of it mostly from the perspective of a Project Manager.
Nevertheless, knowing the needs and problems of every team member can bring great value to the planning process and to the project itself. People in different positions will require different information to organize their work in tune with the general plan. Sprint Planning is a great occasion to share these needs and insights, and to include them in the plan crafting process.
Here are some of the most common challenges that you and your team members might encounter during and after the Sprint Planning:
Some tasks are dependent on others, and they must be completed in the right order. However, during the planning phase, it is not always so obvious and easy to spot the conflicts between tickets to avoid blockages and delays. People tend to focus on the tasks that they are assigned to, without having a bigger picture in mind and considering dependencies.
Another unwanted surprise that often happens after the planning is finished is the team's unexpected limited availability. Someone is taking a leave of absence, someone is participating in a training, and the whole Sprint ends up being delayed. Part of this unavailability could have been included in the plan, but there simply was no good moment to voice one’s concerns.
It’s easy to overlook the imbalance of workload during the planning. If someone is too enthusiastic they can end up taking too many tasks on themselves and eventually become frustrated with the amount of work. Another issue is when the most complex task falls on one person only, generating tension and delays.
No time for testing
One of the frequent planning mistakes is not taking into consideration the work dynamics between developers and testers. If there is not enough time planned for tests, development tasks alone won’t make the team reach the ultimate goals.
The pace and effectiveness of the planning are highly dependent on the person who is in charge of leading the meeting. The team can get frustrated and unfocused if the planning doesn’t go quickly and smoothly enough.
Inconsistency in file versions
If two or more people are editing the file offline right before the meeting, the plan might end up not being updated. It is also easy to get lost in the versions of your file, if multiple people are working on it separately.
The process of onboarding can be a challenging one, since senior employees won’t always have enough time to take care of juniors’ needs and come up with relevant tasks for them. Not considering this during planning can lead to junior employees having too much free time and nothing to do with it.
You already know what challenges your team members often encounter. Some of them might be new to you, while some others you’ve been struggling with for a while now. But what about the solutions? How exactly can you transform your Sprint Planning process to make it easier and more comfortable for everyone?
If you’re familiar with the Principles for Digital Development, you probably know that the first of them says: “Design with the User.” While this rule is created mostly for the purpose of guiding the project design process, it can be also applied to planning.
Who is your plan made for? Who will be using it and how? Which elements of this plan are truly beneficial to the end user and which are not? Ask yourself these questions and notice how all of the answers will lead you to one conclusion. The most essential part of your planning process is your team. And so, the plan should most importantly serve them and be useful to them. The best way to achieve this is to follow the Digital Principle mentioned above. In other words, you should design your plan with your team, not for your team.
If you’re reading this while thinking: “Of course, I’m designing plans with the team! But I’m still not satisfied with the results”, the problem may lie in the actual methods that you use during the planning process. There is a big difference between watching someone move your task around the schedule and doing it yourself. The engagement and focus are on a whole other level, and it reflects in the accuracy of the final plan.
Two solid pillars on which you can build an effective planning practice are transparency and partnership. You will need these two components to avoid the frequent planning issues mentioned above.
If you look closely at the team planning challenges that we’ve discussed, you will notice that many of them sprout from the same root problem – the lack of clarity. It can lead to various issues, such as conflicting tasks, limited availability that wasn’t considered during planning, workload imbalance, and general inefficiency.
Since you’re planning with your team, and not for your team, it is important to engage each one of the people involved and give them the space to make their own adjustments to the plan. Not only can it motivate them to look more closely at the plan and notice any issues, but also make the whole process much quicker and easier.
If you value transparency and partnership, and would like to truly engage your whole team in the planning process in a clear and simple way, you might want to try out a tool designed particularly for this purpose.
Team Planner – Resource Planning for Jira is an application that allows you to conduct Sprint Planning with your entire team, and do it all without leaving Jira. It gives you space to arrange issues on a customizable timeline, and gain clear understanding of time estimation and dependencies of each task, to help you avoid any conflicts, inconsistencies, or oversights.
Additionally, in Team Planner multiple users can edit the plan simultaneously and do it in real-time, making everyone actively engaged in the process. Planning together is more effective and takes less time. It allows each person to share their perspective and include it in the plan, making it more accurate and more complete. With detailed information, it is easier to make strategic decisions and allocate your team’s resources in the most reasonable way. Planning built on a solid foundation of clarity and partnership also leads to an increased sense of responsibility for the Sprint’s success.
Taking into consideration the challenges that you and your team face during Sprint Planning and addressing them in a transparent and collaborative manner can transform your experience and lead you to success.