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Simple Cheat Sheet to Sprint Planning Meeting

WHAT IS SPRINT PLANNING?

Sprint planning is a timeboxed working session that lasts roughly 1 hour for every week of a sprint.  In sprint planning, the entire team agrees to complete a set of 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.

WHO DOES IT?

Sprint planning is a collaborative effort involving a ScrumMaster, who facilitates the meeting, a Product Owner, who clarifies the details of the product backlog items and their respective acceptance criteria, and the Entire Agile Team, who define the work and effort necessary to meet their sprint commitment.

HOW DO WE PREPARE?

Ensure all sprint candidates meet the team’s definition of ready.  In the days and weeks leading up to sprint planning, the Product Owner identify the items with the greatest value and works towards getting them to a ready state.

  • Assign a relative story point value
  • Remove dependencies
  • Create testable examples
  • Define acceptance criteria
  • Meets INVEST criteria

WHAT IS THE BACKLOG?

The product backlog can address just about anything, to include new functionality, bugs, and risks. Product backlog items (PBI’s) must be small enough to complete during a sprint and should be small enough to complete within a few days. All stories must be verified that they are implemented to the satisfaction of the Product Owner. 

ENSURE RIGHT SIZING BACKLOG ITEMS

Based on historical data of the team, first determine if product backlog items are too large to complete in a sprint.  In these cases, do not consider these stories as valid sprint backlog candidates. Rather, in order to consider for sprint planning, split the stories into smaller pieces. Additionally, each story must be able to stand on its own as a vertical slice.  Therefore, stories should not be incomplete or process-based as a horizontal slice.

CALCULATING A COMMITMENT

To calculate a commitment, mature teams may use a combination of both team availability and velocity.  However, new teams may not know their velocity or they may not be stable enough to use velocity as a basis for sprint planning.  In these cases, new teams may need to make forecasts based solely on the their capacity.

DETERMINING VELOCITY

First of all, as velocity is unique to every team, never use another team’s velocity to plan your sprint.  Derive team velocity by summing the story point estimates of all completed and accepted work from the previous sprint.  By tracking team velocity over time, teams will begin to focus less on utilization and consequently more on throughput.

DETERMINING CAPACITY

For teams without a stable velocity, each team member should provide three simple measures to determine capacity.  First, what are the number of ideal hours in their work day?  Second, how many days in the sprint will that person be available?  Third, what percentage of time will that person dedicate to this team?

THE PLANNING STEPS

  1. Remind the team of the big picture or goal
  2. Discuss any new information that may impact the plan
  3. Present the velocity to be used for this release
  4. Confirm team capacity
  5. Confirm any currently known issues and concerns and record as appropriate
  6. Review the definition of DONE and make any appropriate updates based on technology, skill, or team member changes since the last sprint
  7. Present proposed product backlog items to consider for the sprint backlog
  8. Determine the needs, sign up for work, and estimate the work owned
  9. Product Owner answers clarifying questions and elaborates acceptance criteria
  10. Confirm any new issues and concerns raised during meeting and record
  11. Confirm any assumptions or dependencies discovered during planning and record
  12. ScrumMaster calls for a group consensus on the plan
  13. Team and Product Owner signal if this is the best plan they can make given what they know right now
  14. Get back to work

// If your team is new to Scrum, download a copy of the Sprint Planning Cheat Sheet //

Drawings by Pictofigo

Free Process Group and Knowledge Area Study Material

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

Project Team Organization
Project Team Organization

Today 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

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

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.