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What is a Sprint Goal?

The Sprint Goal is an objective that will be met within the Sprint through the implementation of the Product Backlog” (quote from the Scrum Guide).

The Sprint Goal is a phrase that can be used in many different ways:

  • The Development team uses it at every Daily Scrum, to inspect the work done and adapt the work left. The result of this inspection and adaptation is transparently visible in the Sprint Backlog
  • The Product Owner uses it to communicate with the Stakeholders and as a decision-making tool, when negotiating Sprint content with the Development Team or when he/she has to decide to continue or to cancel a Sprint
  • The Scrum Master to ensure that a Sprint Goal has been defined at the end of the Sprint Planning, in a transparent and clear way to everyone and that is frequently used for inspection and adaptation during a Sprint.

Have you clearly defined a Sprint Goal at the end of your Sprint Planning? Is this Sprint Goal understandable and transparent to everyone? Is it defined in a way that provides guidance and flexibility to the Development Team?

The aim of this article is to raise awareness on the importance of having a Sprint Goal defined and to provide some suggestions on how to create one.

Do you know how many times the term “Sprint Goal” is mentioned in the Scrum Guide? 27 times!

Why do we need a Sprint Goal?

A Scrum Team needs a Sprint Goal because it provides:

  • Purpose to the Scrum Team, because it answers the question: “Why are we building this increment?”
  • Guidance to the Development Team, because they can inspect it frequently, during a Sprint, so that undesirable variances can be detected sooner.
  • A reference for decision making to the Product Owner, because he/she can decide to cancel a Sprint if the Sprint Goal becomes obsolete.

When the Sprint Goal is defined?

The Sprint Goal is defined during the Sprint Planning by the Scrum Team. It remains valid for all the duration of the Sprint, otherwise, the Sprint is canceled by the Product Owner.

Sprint Planning

How a Sprint Goal is defined?

A Sprint Goal is crafted by the collaboration of the Product Owner and the Development Team.

In the first part of the Sprint Planning (the “what” part), “the Product Owner discusses the objective that the Sprint should achieve and the Product Backlog items that, if completed in the Sprint, would achieve the Sprint Goal” (quote from the Scrum Guide).

With the stage set, the Development Team collaborates and negotiates with the Product Owner the work to be done in the Sprint. Together, they define and agree on a Sprint Goal.

Crafting a Sprint Goal won’t be natural in the first Sprints, some help and direction can be found in the Roman Pichler’s Sprint Goal template.

What are some examples of Sprint Goal?

Good Sprint Goal Examples:

  • Implement the Search functionality
  • Understand if we can integrate the Open Source solution XY to our Product
  • Experiment the use of new technology for the rebranding of the feature XY

Sprint Goals to reconsider:

  • Fix bugs #1234 and #3488
  • Implement the Search functionality and, if you have time, fix bug#3335 and bug#777 plus answer to the question made by the CIO on the past Sprint Review
  • Rewrite Java class ShopProcess

Reading suggestions

  • The Professional Product Owner by Don McGreal and Ralph Jocham
  • Agile Product Management With Scrum by Roman Pichler

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