How to make your sprints successful

  • Susanne Perreijn

We sometimes wish that we can plan everything and have it all under control. However, the world is full of changes and there’s no way we can control how tomorrow looks like. We can set goals, think about where we want to go towards, but that’s as far as our control gets.

“Success today requires the agility and drive to constantly rethink, reinvigorate, react and reinvent” (Bill Gates)

It is more important to work agile to adapt to change, rather than preventing change from happening. Working agile, we can quickly develop, learn and iterate to move forward within this changing world.
A perfect way to work with an agile mindset is to work in sprints. A sprint is a short, time-boxed period in which the team works to complete a predefined set of work.
As it is a valuableway of working, I like to share my three favourite tips regarding sprints with you

It’s about outcome, not output

No matter if the project is a relaunch of your website or the launch of a brand-new app, a small or big project, sprints help you to focus on the outcome.

When you’re starting a new project, the first thing you do is defining the goal of the project. Ask yourself the question; “What is it that we want to achieve?” (Some people call this the “north star”)
Once it’s clear what you want to achieve, split this goal into smaller chunks and set smaller goals, that all together will make sure you reach that north star.
Start a first sprint and set a goal for this sprint. What is it that you want to have achieved once the sprint is finished? Start the sprint planning afterwards. Which items can contribute to the sprint goal?
The most common mistake is to add as much work as possible to a sprint. However, with that approach, you lose track of the goal.
Instead, ask yourself; which items will contribute to achieving the sprint goal? This increases the chances of achieving the sprint goal.

Stay Focused

Stay focused on your project and your goals. It is tempting to add new items of work to an active sprint, and we’ve all been there. But did it eventually help reach your goal?
Or did you end up with an overworked and unmotivated team, lower quality of the work and the north star still far, far away? Let me assume your answer is “yes”.

It is therefore key to avoid the temptation of adding work during a sprint unless it is discussed with the team, and they have decided that the work can be achieved within the sprint, and it contributes to the sprint goal.
Because of change, we recommend working in short sprints. This allows you to easily adapt to the changes and plan a new sprint with the changed scope or new order of priorities.

Collaborate

It might be stating the obvious, but working in sprints contributes to close collaboration. At the start of each sprint, an understanding of the added value is shared. What is the goal that we are trying to achieve? This process creates alignment within the team.

Furthermore, exchange knowledge with the team at the start of every sprint. This helps you to get the context of the goal, the north star, and set the right priorities.
The process of sprint planing and collaboration will reduce communication overload about unclear directions or expectations during the sprint.

I hope these tips are helpful. If you have any questions about agile development, don't hesitate to get in touch with us.


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