Free Sprint Planning Guide and Agenda

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As part of an Agile assessment, I sat in on a sprint planning meeting.  Though many out there are having sprint planning meetings at the beginning of every sprint, are they getting the most out of the time and effort?  As part of the services to my client, I will be providing a free cheat sheet for sprint planning.  It is both a guide and an agenda, to help keep them focused.  If you want a copy, just click the link at the bottom of the post.

What is Sprint Planning?
The purpose of the sprint planning meeting is for the team to agree to complete a set of the top-ordered product backlog items. This agreement defines the sprint backlog and is based on the team’s velocity or capacity and the length of the sprint timebox.

Who Does It?
Sprint planning is a collaborative effort involving:

  • ScrumMaster – facilitating the meeting
  • Product Owner – clarifying the details of the product backlog items and their acceptance criteria
  • Agile Team – defining the work and effort necessary to fulfill the forecasted completion of product backlog items

Before You Begin
Before getting started we need to ensure

  • The items in the product backlog have been sized by the team and assigned a relative story point value
  • The product backlog is top-ordered to reflect the greatest needs of the Product Owner
  • There is a general understanding of the acceptance criteria for these top-ordered backlog item

Backlogs
The product backlog can address both new functionality and fixes to existing functionality. For the purpose of sprint planning, product backlog items must be small enough to be completed during the sprint and can be verified that they were implemented correctly.

Right Sizing Backlog Items
Product backlog items too large to be completed in a sprint must be split into smaller pieces. The best way to split product backlog items is by value not by process.

Plan Based on Capacity
Mature teams may use a combination of team availability and velocity to forecast what product backlog items can be finished during the sprint.  New teams may not know their velocity or it may not be stable enough to use as a basis for sprint planning.  In those cases, new teams may need to make forecasts based solely on the team’s capacity.

Determining Capacity
The capacity of a team is derived from three simple measures for each team member:

  • Number of ideal hours in the work day
  • Days in the sprint that the person will be available
  • Percentage of time the person will dedicate to this team

The Planning Steps

  1. The Product Owner describes the highest ordered product backlog item(s)
  2. The team determines and prioritizes what is necessary to complete that product backlog item(s)
  3. Team members volunteer to own the work
  4. Work owners estimate the ideal hours they need to finish their work
  5. Planning continues while the team does not exceed determined capacity

Download the free 2-page Sprint Planning Guide and Agendadownload-flashcards

Drawings by Pictofigo

Free Process Group and Knowledge Area Study Material

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5-9-42

This is the number combination I want you to remember.

5 Process Groups

9 Knowledge Areas

42 Processes

A colleague of mine just passed his PMP® exam.  What was one of his regrets?  He should have memorized page 43 of the PMBoK.  Why?  Page 43 is an excellent road-map.  Go to any process on page 43 and you’ll have a corresponding process group and knowledge area.

Want to Report Performance?  You’ll find it at the crossroad of  Communications Management and Monitoring & Controlling. By memorizing the items on this page, you will be able visualize where you are within a project lifecycle and answer a bunch of questions on the exam.

To make it easy on you, I created a simple piece of study material, based on page 43 of the PMBOK

  • Page 1 has all of the process groups, knowledge areas, and processes
  • Page 2 is missing Initiating processes
  • Page 3 is missing Planning processes
  • Page 4 is missing Executing processes
  • Page 5 is missing Monitoring & Controlling processes
  • Page 6 is missing Closing processes
  • Page 7 is missing ALL of the processes

Click here to get a free PDF copy of this 7 page study worksheet.

With so many other things, memorizing isn’t going to do you any good if you can’t practically apply what you committed to memory.  I can’t say I have a use case from the real world, where memorizing page 43 would apply.  But, if you want a leg up on passing the PMP® exam, I think it’s a great start.

Free Project Team Organization Worksheet

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Project Team OrganizationToday I’m going to write about (and provide) a free Project Team Organization worksheet to complement the Project Charter Template so many have downloaded. Both files are free for download, modification, and distribution. [Team Organization Worksheet] [Project Charter Template]

When using the Project Team Organization worksheet, note that there are 4 sections:  Structure, Roles and Responsibilities, and a Responsibility Matrix, Project Facilities and Resources.  I’m going to focus on the first three.

Step 1: Describe the organizational structure of the project team and stakeholders, preferably providing a graphical depiction (organization chart).

Step 2: Summarize roles and responsibilities for the project team and stakeholders identified in the project structure above.

Step 3: Complete the responsibility matrix for each of the project roles. As a graphical depiction of a more detailed perspective of responsibilities, the matrix should reflect by functional role the assigned responsibility for key milestones and activities.

Step 4: Describe the project’s requirements for facilities and resources, such as office space, special facilities, computer equipment, office equipment, and support tools. Identify responsibilities for provisioning the specific items needed to support the project development environment.  Hey, you’re people need places to sit and equipment to get their work done.

With preliminary approval, copy these values into Section 3 of our free Project Charter Template. Upon Project Charter approval, apply the identified team members to activities in Microsoft Project or your selected Project Management application.

Another thing I would recommend is leverage the data from this worksheet in your Communications Management Plan.  You’ve already identified people and their roles or responsibilities.  The most important thing to remember is do what makes sense.  This planning worksheet isn’t required to do a Charter.  It’s supposed to make things easier for you and lower the risk of not knowing who is on your team and what they are responsible for.

[Team Organization Worksheet] [Project Charter Template]

Free Work Breakdown Structure Worksheet

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WBS WorksheetAs I look at the logs of the Critical Path website, I notice a trend for what people are searching.  Most visitors coming to this site are searching for project management related templates and worksheets.  If there is one thing I try to instill in other project managers, it is listen to your customers!  That being said, here is a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) worksheet to complement the Project Charter Template so many have downloaded.  Both files are free for download, modification, and distribution. [WBS Worksheet] [Project Charter Template]

When using the WBS worksheet, list the project’s major milestones and deliverables, the corresponding unique identifying numbers, and the target dates for delivery. This list should reflect products and/or services delivered to the end user as well as the delivery of key project management or other project-related work products.

With preliminary approval, copy these values into Section 3.2 of our free Project Charter Template.  Upon Project Charter approval, copy the values from the major milestones column into Microsoft Project or your selected Project Management application and begin creating the activity list (decomposing).

Free Communications Management Plan Template

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Communications Management PlanI participated in a Communication Working Group session for the PMO today. Imagine a dozen people sitting around a table laughing for 10 minutes, when they realized I had shaved off my goatee. After the excitement subsided, we rolled up our sleeves and got to work. It was really quite refreshing to see how excited everyone was to be there. (We only had 4 people for the prior meeting) Ishikawa diagrams littered the walls and the smell of Scripto markers filled the air.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to have a Communications Management Plan.  Feel free to download my template.  If not, I recommend following the next 7 steps to write your own.

  1. List the project stakeholders and their associated roles and responsibilities
  2. Specify contact information for each stakeholder
  3. For each stakeholder identified, specify the information required to keep stakeholders informed and enable them to fulfill their project roles and responsibilities. Also, specify the timeframe, frequency, or trigger for distribution of the information.
  4. List the information that must be collected, summarized, and reported in order to produce the communication outputs that fulfill the stakeholder information requirements. Specify the associated collection and reporting details.
  5. List each report or document to be produced and distributed as a communication output to fulfill the stakeholder information requirements. Specify the associated distribution, storage, and disposition details.
  6. List and describe the distribution groups that will be used to distribute project information.
  7. Last, define all terms and acronyms required to interpret the Communication Management Plan properly.