Teams new to Scrum have to make many important decisions. One such important decision, that can directly impact how efficiently the team will be performing, is determining the length or the size of the sprint in the scrum. This blog will tell you about Sprint Size in Scrum – What Should It Be.
Table of Contents
What is Scrum?
Scrum is a framework that gives teams guidelines on how to work together to complete their work. Scrum will contain sets of roles, ceremonies, and considerations as to how the work is to be completed.
Scrum can encourage teams to self-organize while working on a problem, learn through experiences, and reflect on their wins and losses to continuously improve. While the scrum we’re looking at is usually used by software development teams, any kind of teamwork can benefit from its principles and lessons.
One of the main reasons why scrum is so popular is that scrum can make it easy for teams to structure and manage their work.
What is Sprint?
A sprint is a concept in scrum that represents a time-boxed period or an amount of time when a scrum team works to complete a set amount of work. Sprints are at the very heart of scrum frameworks and getting sprints right could mean fewer headaches and a high level of productivity.
Think of it this way, with sprints, scrum work is done in a series of iterations which can break down big, complex projects into small, manageable tasks. The length or the size of the sprint will determine the amount of time the team will require to complete the set amount of work.
Sprints are usually between one to four weeks long. However, it is important for the scrum teams to decide what the sprint size in scrum should be. The ideal sprint time for a scrum team can depend on a number of different factors.
What we often see is that most scrum teams tend to lean toward the extremes. Which means that the size of the sprint would be either 1 week or 4 weeks. It is worth noting that there exists a number of opinions on the varying lengths and size of sprints. However, we will look at some common questions that can help scrum teams determine the best sprint size for them.
Planned or Unplanned Work?
Needless to say, the kind of work required can make a huge difference. If the scrum team has high variability in their work, longer sprints might be the only way for the team to get a necessary buffer. However, if you’ve got a 1 week long sprint (where one out of the 5 days will already be dedicated to ceremonies), even 1 or 2 unplanned tasks could prevent the team from completing the required work.
Moreover, it’s worth noting that shorter sprints can give the team a margin to include small tasks in their sprint planning within a short time period, especially if the team has unplanned work with a lower level of urgency.
Time for Scrum Ceremonies
You should be asking how much time per week can you spend on sprint planning, retrospectives, backlog grooming, and demos? This becomes very important if the scrum team does not have dedicated roles like scrum master and product owner. Small or short sprints could mean that more time has to be spent on these meetings/discussions.
Usually with a one week long sprint, teams lose a full day of each sprint to planning, retros and demos. That’s twenty percent of the sprint! The smaller the sprints, the more often the team will be having these ceremonies.
Size and Scope of the Work
Make sure the size of the sprint is enough so that the work can be completed in the sprint length. If you realise that you often fail to complete the work in one sprint, a longer sprint might make more sense.
You should work on improving productivity and be able to accurately size your tasks. Depending on the work that the team is supposed to complete, you should then be able to figure out what the ideal sprint size is for your team.
Ask yourself how often do you take the time to check and evaluate the work completed? Do you think it is possible to go four weeks without a demonstration of the work that the team is doing? Or do you want to know every week? Sprint length will also determine how often you will be seeing sprint demos and complete sprint retrospectives.
Inspection and Adaptation
It’s important to note that there is no one perfect size that fits all the sprints. Remember that iteration is the key to scrum, so there’s no need to worry if the first size of your sprint doesn’t work for your team. After all, that’s exactly why you have retrospectives for.
If you want to learn more about what scrum and sprint is, how it all works and how it can help you, there is a courses list available for you to choose and learn from.