Join Bob McGannon for an in-depth discussion in this video Designing your sprint structure, part of Agile Project Management Foundations.
Most sprint durations are from four to 12 weeks. This duration includes the speculate, explore, and adapt phases. Determining the length of your sprints and the number of features you'll try to build during each sprint is called the sprint structure. You'll want to create a sprint structure that is appropriate for your specific project. So let's discuss some hints and tips to determine your sprint structure. As a starting point, plan one week for Speculate and one week for Adapt. Over time, you will learn what you can accomplish in those time frames, and adjust as necessary.
The exception to this is the Speculate phase in the first sprint, as planning will be necessary for the whole project, not just the sprint, so add a few more days. To determine the best sprint structure, you'll need the complete list of features to be developed along with size estimates. Then, create a logical grouping for the features so you can assess the size of the sprints you want to use. Features can be grouped based on, the business's prioritization of the features. The technicians you have available for a given sprint, the business resources you will have available for a given sprint, or grouped simply by business area.
Because sometimes it's easier to build features for a specific business area in a given sprint. The size estimates for the features need not be detailed. You can use large, medium and small with the expected number of hours for each category. For example a large feature is assigned 80 hours, medium 40 hours and small 20 hours. As estimates are refined during each Speculate phase you can adjust as needed. Based on the number of people you have on your team, and the size of the features you want to build in each sprint, you could determine the best size of your sprints.
Pick a size and stick with it. Keeping each sprint the same length. This helps your team schedule themselves in a rhythm. Which is proven to be more productive over a number of agile projects. Here's an example. Let's say your project is six months long and you consume one month for the Envision phase. You now have five months left for the remainder of the project. Based on the size and grouping of features, you decide on three sprints of seven weeks each. Of the seven weeks for each sprint, you have five weeks to perform the work.
The Explore phase. Based on the estimates and the available resources, you'll now be able to confirm the features you can complete in a given sprint. If that does not align with the features you want to build in a sprint, you could adjust your sprint length and the number of sprints accordingly. I suggest building the highest priority features in the first sprint, assuming you have the right technical and business resources available to work on them. One final hint. Many teams work best with short and focused sprints. Test this out to see if it works for your team. Try things out during the first sprint and adjust accordingly.
You can increase or decrease the features planned in a given sprint to make things work better. Just keep in mind, the overall duration of the sprints and the project should remain the same.
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- What is agile project management?
- Selecting an agile project
- Scoping the project
- Designing your sprint structure
- Collecting requirements
- Running stand-up meetings
- Managing issues and risks
- Tracking lessons learned
- Responding to change requests
- Closing the project
- Spotting signs of trouble