3 Sprint Planning Mistakes That Can Kill Employee Productivity
Small businesses should be concerned about improving employee productivity. Our recent survey on the top technology trends* revealed that small and medium businesses (SMBs), rated improving employee productivity as their top business goal for the next one-to-two years.
SMBs have many creative options to increase employee productivity. These include the gamification and equipping offices with smart climate control.
Scrum is an agile project management tool and framework that can help small teams get more out of their work.
Not all Agile projects are successful. A 6point6 report estimates that the UK’s businesses will have spent an estimated $50 billion on failed Agile IT projects in the past 12 months. Although the report focused on large enterprises, it found that SMBs could benefit from learning from the lessons learned from failures.
Unrealistic expectations, backlog mismanagement and sprint overplanning are the main reasons for most Scrum sprint failures. This can cause businesses to lose productivity, time and money.
This report will examine three mistakes in sprint planning that SMBs must avoid to ensure success with Scrum projects.
Effective sprint planning is the difference in success or failure.
A successful sprint plan is the difference between success or failure
Scrum is a method that small businesses use to complete projects in short time frames called “sprints”. These sprints can last anywhere from one week to a whole month. Sprint planning involves the product owner and Scrum master. The development team commits to completing a set task (e.g. bug fixes or new feature development).
Sprint planning is the core of Scrum because it has a direct impact on the actual project outcomes. A team’s ability and willingness to perform the tasks they have committed to during the sprint planning stage will determine the success or failure of a project.
Businesses often fail to develop effective sprint plans due to lack of Agile expertise. A VersionOne study that examined Agile approaches in large organizations found that 80% of respondents still lack Agile maturity.
SMBs who have recently adopted Scrum face a similar situation, as they lack both product owners and Scrum masters. They are unable to work productively with the development team to create effective sprint plans, which can lead to project management failure.
These are three common mistakes in Sprint planning that small businesses should avoid.
1. Overcommitting to product owners who are too eager to please can lead to unrealistic expectations
Sprint planning meetings are productive until the product owner makes unreasonable demands of the team. This is often when product owners try and accommodate every request from project stakeholders.
Product owners need to learn to say no to project stakeholders when necessary, according to Tina Nunno, Gartner analyst.
Learn how to assertively say “no” (Source).
How technology can help:
Product owners who are able to use the assertive “no”, indicate that they can communicate effectively with stakeholders about their team’s capabilities. You can use the Agile project management tools such as status tracking to give data-driven reasons for why teams cannot accommodate a request within a given sprint.
Velocity chart in SpiraPlan Source
2. Sprint planning meetings without a prioritized product list
Product owners have many responsibilities, but the most important is prioritizing product backlog. Also known as “user stories”, this will cause development teams to cherry-pick user stories that are added into a spri.