Velocity : Key metric to secure an effective Sprint Planning

One of key metrics of a Scrum team is Velocity. Even though it’s not mentioned in the Scrum guide, it is still very useful for the Product Owner while planning the Scope of the next Sprint and defining a concrete Sprint Goal.

As the name implies Velocity (consider the team as a vehicle) is a  metric calculated by averaging the total amount of Story Points completed over the number of Sprints within the same period. In practice, the velocity of the teams gets stabilized after a certain number Sprints are left behind. As the number of Sprints increases, the velocity starts oscillating in a regular rhythm.

 

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How to handle a failed Sprint and how to avoid it ?

Let’s imagine a typical Sprint of 2 weeks duration. If the team is delivering software continuously since more than a year it means that the team had run around 26 Sprints past year. Do you think it is feasible that each and every Sprint has been finalized with success? Obviously, it is not surprising that a number of Sprints fail to accomplish the Sprint Goal. Well, even though it’s not the best scenario, a mature Scrum team is supposed to manage mentally and emotionally the consequences of a failed Sprint.

Every professional aims to be successful at personal level. Similarly, everybody enjoys  being part of a winning, successful team. Nevertheless, it is very likely that a Sprint could not achieve the targeted Sprint goal and fails due to several reasons such as bad planning, dependencies, challenging Sprint goals, changing scope etc.

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Why is Refinement key for effective Sprint Planning ?

As a best practice, I organize Refinement meetings every second week of our 2 weeks long Sprints. This is really key in order to run an effective Sprint Planning event.

I prefer to use Refinement but not Grooming as the latter has a recent negative meaning.

At the invitation I send to the team for Refinement event, I briefly mention about the PBI that we will talk about. These are mostly the items those have the highest priority  and have not been yet estimated.  Refinement sessions could potentially get postponed if the team is working intensely to accomplish the Sprint Goal and short in time. That’s why it’s a good practise to schedule it to the very beginning of the second week in order not to jeopardize achieving the Sprint Goal.

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