How does it work in Scrum if there is a strict deadline ?

Ideally, before performing the Sprint Planning session as a team, the Product Backlog Items those will be potentially included in the next Sprint are supposed to be estimated in Story Points. The higher the priority of any Product Backlog Item, the higher is the expected maturity level of that particular PBI. Then, based on the average velocity data i.e. the average completed story points in the past, together with the expected capacity of the team for the next Sprint, the development team decides which PBIs should be included into the scope of the following Sprint. We, as the product owners are supposed to provide the right level of priorization and the overall direction to achieve a Sprint Goal before the planning session. This is basically how Sprint Planning works.

Nevertheless, Scrum teams may face scenarios where there may be strict deadline for a new feature or a solution. In other words, teams could face circumstances where the typical release planning could be not be applicable. To make it more concrete, let’s assume that the total amount of Story Points for a new to-be-developed solution is 100 SPs. Moreover, assuming that based on the proper planning done by PO according to the velocity of the team while preserving the projected capacity , it seems feasible that the team would require 4 Sprints in order to ship the solution. There are chances that, due to a certain reason ( Top Management expectation, natural deadlines such as Christmas, back-to-school season etc.) it may not be feasible to run 4 Sprints as the strict deadline does not allow such a period of time. Let’s imagine that for this example the deadline is just 3 Sprints away. Than the big question is how should a PO react if she/he encounters such a case ?

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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.

 

Source

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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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