What is a Sprint Planning?

Ruben Buijs

Founder & Digital Consultant

Written on Aug 10, 2023

3 minutes

Product Management

Sprint Planning is a crucial activity in the field of product management that helps teams effectively plan and prioritize their work for a specific period, known as a sprint. In this process, the product manager, along with the development team, defines the goals, selects the user stories to be completed, and estimates the effort required to complete them within the sprint.

Importance of Sprint Planning

Sprint Planning plays a vital role in ensuring the success of a project and maximizing the team's productivity. It offers several benefits:

  • Setting clear goals: Sprint Planning allows the team to define and align on the objectives for the upcoming sprint. This clarity helps everyone understand what needs to be accomplished and keeps the team focused.

  • Prioritizing work: During Sprint Planning, the team selects the most important user stories to work on during the sprint. By prioritizing tasks, the team ensures that the most valuable features are delivered to customers first.

  • Estimating effort: Sprint Planning involves estimating the effort required to complete user stories. This estimation helps the team allocate resources effectively and plan the sprint capacity.

  • Creating a shared understanding: Sprint Planning encourages collaboration and discussion among team members. It ensures that everyone has a shared understanding of the work to be done, reducing ambiguity and improving overall efficiency.

How to Use Sprint Planning

To make the most of Sprint Planning, follow these steps:

  1. Review backlog: Start by reviewing the product backlog, which contains a list of user stories or tasks. Evaluate new additions, remove outdated items, and ensure the backlog is up to date.

  2. Define sprint goal: Establish a clear goal for the sprint. This goal should align with the overall product vision and address the most critical needs of the users or stakeholders.

  3. Select user stories: Based on the sprint goal, the team selects a set of user stories from the product backlog. Prioritize them based on their importance and potential impact on the product.

  4. Break down user stories: Break down selected user stories into smaller, manageable tasks. Assign story points or effort estimates to each task to determine the overall effort required.

  5. Capacity planning: Assess the team's capacity and availability for the sprint. Consider individual workloads, vacations, or any other factors that might impact productivity.

  6. Create a sprint backlog: Compile the selected user stories and their associated tasks into a sprint backlog. The sprint backlog serves as a comprehensive plan for the sprint.

  7. Estimate task duration: Estimate the duration or time required to complete each task. This helps in identifying potential bottlenecks or dependencies and ensures realistic planning.

  8. Assign tasks and responsibilities: Distribute tasks among team members based on their skills and availability. Clearly communicate responsibilities and ensure everyone understands their assigned tasks.

  9. Define acceptance criteria: Collaboratively define acceptance criteria for each user story and task. These criteria act as benchmarks to determine when a task or user story is completed successfully.

  10. Review and finalize: Review the sprint plan with the entire team, seeking feedback and clarifying any doubts or concerns. Make any necessary adjustments or refinements before finalizing the plan.

Useful Tips for Sprint Planning

Consider these tips to enhance your Sprint Planning sessions:

  • Involve the entire team: Ensure that all team members actively participate in Sprint Planning. This promotes a shared understanding and commitment to the sprint goals.

  • Consider dependencies: Identify and address any dependencies between user stories or tasks early on. Understanding these dependencies helps in sequencing work effectively and avoiding delays.

  • Keep it focused: Sprint Planning meetings should be time-bound and focused. Encourage discussions but ensure they remain relevant to the sprint goals and planning process.

  • Regularly groom the backlog: Maintain a well-groomed product backlog by regularly reviewing and updating it. This ensures that the team has a reliable source of work items for Sprint Planning.

  • Revisit and learn: After each sprint, reflect on the effectiveness of your Sprint Planning process. Learn from the experiences and identify areas for improvement in subsequent iterations.


Sprint planning is a meeting held at the beginning of a sprint where the product team plans and prioritizes the work to be done during the sprint.
Sprint planning involves the product owner, scrum master, and the development team. Other stakeholders may also attend.
The goal of sprint planning is to define the sprint goal, select user stories to be worked on, estimate effort, and create a sprint backlog.
The duration of sprint planning depends on the length of the sprint. For example, a 2-week sprint planning might take around 2-4 hours.
A sprint goal is a short statement that describes the objective or outcome the team aims to achieve during the sprint.
A user story is a simple and concise description of a feature or functionality from the perspective of an end user.
User stories are prioritized based on their value to the customer, business goals, and dependencies. The product owner usually provides guidance on prioritization.
A sprint backlog is a list of user stories and tasks that the development team commits to completing during the sprint.
Ideally, no new user stories should be added during a sprint. However, if absolutely necessary, the product owner and the team may discuss and agree upon adding new user stories.
If the team determines they won't be able to complete all the planned work, they should collaborate and discuss potential solutions. This might involve adjusting the scope, negotiating with stakeholders, or seeking assistance from the product owner.

Article by

Ruben Buijs

Ruben is the founder of ProductLift. I employ a decade of consulting experience from Ernst & Young to maximize clients' ROI on new Tech developments. I now help companies build better products

Table of contents

  1. Importance of Sprint Planning
  2. How to Use Sprint Planning
  3. Useful Tips for Sprint Planning
  4. Related Terms

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