Sprint Backlog

Basic

difficulty

Stage 2

Agile IQ® Level

Artefacts

Guides

Scrum

Framework

Introduction

The Sprint Backlog is composed of:

target-correct

Why

The Sprint Goal

task-list-multiple

What

The set of Product Backlog items selected for the Sprint

list-to-do

How

An actionable plan for delivering the Increment

The Sprint Backlog is a plan by and for the Developers. It is a highly visible, real-time picture of the work that the Developers plan to accomplish during the Sprint in order to achieve the Sprint Goal.

The Sprint Backlog should be updated by Developers throughout the Sprint as more is learned. It should have enough detail that everyone can inspect their progress in the Daily Scrum.

Commitment: Sprint Goal

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.

Add the Sprint Goal to the Sprint Backlog

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.

Ensure that the Sprint Goal creates a step toward achieving the Product Goal.

Creating the Sprint Backlog

  • Through discussion with the Product Owner, the Developers select items from the Product Backlog to include in the current Sprint.
  • For each selected Product Backlog item, the Developers plan the work necessary to create an Increment that meets the Definition of Done. This is often done by decomposing Product Backlog items into
    smaller work items of one day or less.
  • The Sprint Goal, the Product Backlog items selected for the Sprint, plus the plan for delivering them are together referred to as the Sprint Backlog.
creating the sprint backlog

Daily Scrum and the Sprint Backlog

Daily Scrum is a good time to update the Sprint Backlog. This ensures the Sprint Backlog is:

  • Always transparent.
  • Represents the team’s plan to achieve the Sprint Goal.
sprint backlog and daily scrum

Things to watch out for

  • Developers should keep their Scrum Board (or equivalent) up to date. It’s not the Scrum Master’s job to do this.
  • Don’t wait til the Daily Scrum to update the Sprint Backlog. Update it whenever you need to, but definitely use the Daily Scrum to raise awareness with the rest of the team regarding any issues or problems that are going to slow you down or prevent you from achieving the Sprint Goal.

Actions to try

  • Use a physical board to keep the Sprint Backlog up to date.
  • Meet at the physical board at Daily Scrum.
  • Make the Sprint Backlog a visual radiator of the status of the team’s plan to deliver the Sprint Goal, at the same time every day.
  • Differentiate between User Stories (Backlog items) and the tasks that are needed to deliver the item to Done.
  • Visualise the state of work: is it “to do” (in the Sprint Backlog), “in-progress”, or “Done” (meets the Definition of Done)

References

1. Schwaber, K. and Sutherland, J. (2020) The Scrum Guide. The Definitive Guide to Scrum: The Rules of the Game.

2. Hodgson, M. R. & Horrigan, M. B. (2021) Agile Essentials. 

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