How to Make your Sprint Planning Really Agile

You know the drill – create your product backlog, review it, update the user stories, come up with a sprint goal before the meeting, and finally, review every story in the meeting to decide which ones have to be done.

Yes, well-planned sprints are what make a great agile dev team even greater and robust. The better you plan your work, the higher chance that you will meet your goals and deliver your work. In this article, we will explain how to make your Sprint Planning in Jira as agile as it gets.

But first, What are Sprints and What are Sprint Plannings For?

A Sprint, a time-box of one month or less during which a “Done”, usable, and potentially releasable product Increment is created. It usually lasts for 2-4 weeks.

A new Sprint starts immediately after the conclusion of the previous Sprint. The goal of Sprint Planning is to define what is crucial to ship better software faster, minimize the risk of any surprises, and to ensure high-quality code. 

Well, we all know that this is easier said than done. In reality, sprints also serve the purpose of aligning the development team with the PO (product owner), just like in any other relationship. A sprint planning session creates a common ground for the team to sit down and communicate the expectations of each side in a clear way. How to do it properly? To answer that question, let’s look at how to create a sprint in Jira in the first place.

How to Plan, Create, and Run a Really Agile Sprint in Jira?

Read out step-by-step guide enhanced with pro tips on how to create a truly agile Sprint in Jira:

Create the Sprint in Jira

To create a Sprint in Jira: 

  1. Go to the Backlog of your Scrum project.
  2. Use the Create Sprint button at the top of the backlog.
  3. Set a name for your Sprint, define the Start and End date or leave them empty for now.
  4. Optionally, you can add a goal to the Sprint.

Image source Atlassian Agile Coach

Do The Planning Together

Now, you need to fill your Sprint with Issues. That’s when the whole planning happens. The Scrum Team needs to meet together, sit down and decide what are the necessary tasks that have to be done in a sprint. It is important to plan your backlog according to your team’s velocity, capacity and target the workload to reach the Sprint Goal .

Pro tip:

To make work easier for everyone, we also recommend creating Definition of Done in Jira. Such definition is like a contract between a Product Owner and the team. It clearly defines what are the expectations of the PO and what the team is supposed to deliver. Also, remember to break work into smaller sub-tasks and overall smaller granular pieces. Otherwise, instead of a steady gradual burndown on your burndown chart, you may witness huge drops.

Add Issues to Your New Sprint

The next step is to add your created Issues to the Sprint in the Backlog. You can add existing issues to a Sprint, or create a new Issue and then add it to an active Sprint. Or, update the Sprint field directly inside an Issue.

Pro tip:

Remember that one Issue can’t be in more than one Sprint at a time.

Let the Sprint Begin

You can start a sprint as soon as you have everything planned out and you’re done adding work for your team. Just go to your Backlog in Jira, find your planned sprint and click Start Sprint.

Image source Atlassian Agile Coach

Stay On Top of the Progress

By all means, starting the Sprint is not where your work ends. If you are the Scrum Master, Project Manager, or a Product Owner, you will most likely want (and need to) track the progress of your team’s work.

Pro tip:

Apart from tracking your team’s progress on everyone’s tasks in Jira, the best way to stay on top of progress is to have daily scrum meetings. That way, you will create a mutual space that encourages discussion and collaboration, and you’ll know what each team member is working on. You may also want to pay attention to how much time your team devotes to their tasks, whether or not they complete them too early or if they miss their deadlines.

Apart from that, let us show you how you can use Smart Checklist for Jira like a pro in your Jira Tasks and make work easier for everyone on the team.

Smart Checklist for Jira is a powerful add-on that, when added, makes creating custom, professional-looking to-do lists in your Jira Tasks a breeze – not manual monkey work. With Smart Checklist for Jira you can:

As soon as you install Smart Checklist, simply go to any Issue and you will see it available right below the Description. You can now start adding actionable checklist items.

Click on the Pencil icon to open the editor in full-screen mode. Or, start adding list items in the input one after another.

Customize Your Smart Checklist in Jira

With the Markdown feature supported by Smart Checklist, you can easily create a checklist for your own needs, such as:

  1. Every item on the list can have a different status: to-do, in progress, cancelled, or done
  1. Apart from that, you can also create different headers to make the list more scannable, like in a Word Google Doc.
  2. You can even highlight a person responsible for a specific item on the list or make the deadline for it visible.
  3. Better still – Smart Checklist for Jira also allows you to create Custom Statuses for your list items. The predefined statuses are: To-do, In Progress, Skipped, and Done. You can add your own statuses on top of them. 

These and many more features in Smart Checklist for Jira can make work of the entire team go more smoothly. 

Close a Completed Sprint

So four weeks have passed, you reached the end of your Sprint and your team has completed all their issues? It’s time to close it.

  1. Go to your Active sprints in your Jira Scrum board.
  2. If you have many active Sprints, you will need to find the one you want to close.
  3. Select your Sprint and click the Complete Sprint button. 
  4. If there are any incomplete issues, they can be moved back to the Backlog or a new Sprint.

Pro tip:

After you have closed a Sprint, it’s good to run an Agile Retrospective meeting with the team. Such meetings, also known as Retros, are great opportunities for Scrum Teams to evaluate their work and create a plan for what to improve in any future Sprint.

Key Takeaways

As said at the beginning of this article, a well planned-out Sprint is the backbone of every Agile team, making it work like a well-oiled machine. We hope that with all the provided pro-tips, making your Sprint planning more agile will be easier than ever. After all, delivering great products is also about perfectly organized work.

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