How to Make your Sprint Planning Really Agile

You know the drill – build a product roadmap in Jira, 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.

Easier said than done, eh?

Yes, well-planned sprints are what makes a great agile dev team even greater and more 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 is a time-box during which a “Done”, usable, and potentially releasable product Increment is created. Usually, a Sprint lasts for 2-4 weeks.

The next 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 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 software?

Here’s a step-by-step guide enhanced with pro tips on how to create a truly agile Sprint that follows best Jira practices:

Sprint Planning Meeting

Every upcoming Sprint needs to be filled with issues that cover necessary stories and functionality crucial to a successful release. That’s when the whole Agile Sprint 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. Therefore it is important for the PO to refine the backlog before the Sprint Planning Meeting. Story Points in Jira issues will be of great help in this regard as they will help you evaluate the complexity of every story.

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. You can even automate this process by applying Definition of Done to stories automatically with a checklist template.

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 in Sprint reports.

Create the Sprint in Jira

Create 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 Sprint name, define the Start and End date, or leave them empty for now.
  4. Optionally, you can add a goal you’d like to meet before the end of the Sprint.
Create a Sprint in Jira

Image source Atlassian Agile Coach

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. These meetings help with resolving blockers and certain dependencies allowing the team to be proactive through communication.

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 in your Jira Tasks to 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 much simpler. With Smart Checklist for Jira you can:

  • Add To-do lists to your Tasks with clearly defined action items per status
  • Edit these ToDo items in a full-screen editor and organize checklists with clearly defined assignees or dates.
  • Use Markdown to customize the look of your lists in an intuitive editor.
  • Set a default template for tasks that have repetitive, smaller items to complete.

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.

Create your stories with Smart Checklist for 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, canceled, or done
  1. Apart from that, you can also create different headers to make the list more scannable, like it would be in a Word or a 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 the work of the entire team go more smoothly. 

Try Smart Checklist for free

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: As part of Jira Sprint planning, though one that takes place at a later stage, it’s good to run a Sprint Retrospective meeting with the team after closing the Sprint. 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 all the provided Jira Spring planning pro-tips, will make you more able. After all, delivering great products is also about perfectly organized work.

Everything is simpler when the process is well-documented and the progress is visible at a glance. 

Help your team create and manage task lists with Smart Checklist!