Aligning Sprint Goals to the product goal

Intermediate

difficulty

Stage 2

Agile IQ® Level

Planning

Practices

Scrum

Framework

Introduction

Sprint Goals are designed to provide focus for the Sprint and add value to the Product Goal. 

What is a Sprint Goal?

In the 2020 Scrum Guide, Schwaber and Sutherland augmented the idea of the Sprint Goal. Importantly, they highlighted that the Sprint Goal is a commitment to ensure:

  • Transparency – What is the team doing over the next few weeks?
  • Focus – where should the team be focussing their efforts?

The Sprint Goal is the single objective for the Sprint. Although the Sprint Goal is a commitment by the Developers, it provides flexibility in terms of the exact work needed to achieve it. The Sprint Goal also creates coherence and focus, encouraging the Scrum Team to work together rather than on separate initiatives. The Sprint Goal is created during the Sprint Planning event and then added to the Sprint Backlog. As the Developers work during the Sprint, they keep the Sprint Goal in mind. If the work turns out to be different than they expected, they collaborate with the Product Owner to negotiate the scope of the Sprint Backlog within the Sprint without affecting the Sprint Goal.

Schwaber & Sutherland (2020) The Scrum Guide

The Sprint Goal as a Short-Term mission

The Sprint Goal can be considered as a short term mission that can be achieved in service to the Product Goal. The Sprint Goal should describe the idea of “why are we doing this Sprint” and should encapsulate a step towards that desired outcome. There should only be one per Sprint, to give the team focus.

Writing a Sprint Goal

It takes time for teams to learn how to define a Sprint Goal. Many just start off with “deliver x number of items from the Product Backlog, but this neither creates focus nor does it describe why the team is doing this work during the Sprint.

Elements of a Good Sprint Goal

A good Sprint Goal should describe:

  • One area of focus – If the team was only to get one thing ‘over the line’ what would that be and why?
  • Value – Who benefits most from the work done this Sprint?
  • Purpose – When value is received by a user, what problem does this solve for them? What can they now do that they couldn’t do before?

Anti-patterns: Poor Sprint Goals

No: "Deliver X items from the Product Backlog".
Yes: "Deploy X Feature to help Y Users improve their data compliance which stakeholders can then see in their reports"

A good template for Sprint Goals

Our focus is on <Outcome>

We believe it delivers <Impact> to <Customer>

This will be confirmed when <Event happens>

Poor Examples

Our focus is on having SAP integrated into the corporate system
We believe it delivers improved features functionality and increasing productivity to Department X
This will be confirmed when the colleagues in Department X are using the improved features and can see the benefits.

Good Examples

  • Our focus is to have a tidy garage that we can put our car in
  • We believe it decreases the risk of the car being stolen and increases our peace of mind
  • This will be confirmed when the car is in the garage and out of sight.

 

  • Our focus is to lose a healthy amount of body weight
  • We believe it will reduce the strain on my heart 
  • This will be confirmed when I can run consistently at 5 min/km for 30 minutes 

 

  • Our focus is on sending a basic email that contains a link to a spreadsheet
  • We believe it delivers confidence in the product to our organisation
  • This will be confirmed when we have an email in an inbox

 

  • Our focus is to practice defending corners in Football
  • We believe it will enable the team to not concede goals from corners  
  • This will be confirmed when we defend the goal from corners in a real football match.

References

Hinshelwood, M. (2020) The Sprint Goal is a commitment for the Sprint Backlog. Online at: https://www.scrum.org/resources/blog/sprint-goal-commitment-sprint-backlog

Pandey, A. (2022) Crafting a good sprint goal. Online at: https://www.scrum.org/resources/blog/crafting-good-sprint-goal

Trapps, S. (2020) Sprint Goal Template. Online at: https://www.scrum.org/resources/blog/sprint-goal-template

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