Agile Sprint Planning and Tools To Improve Project Management

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Time is considered to be the most precious element in our daily life. Agile projects also are in consent with this and took a stand to save time and deliver quality output. That is when the time-boxed iteration called sprint came into discussion.

The success of sprint lies just not in the hand of the developers but with all the stakeholders. Yes, proper planning is the key to success. One needs direction to start any process. Therefore it is important to plan the goal and discuss how to implement all backlogs in the Sprint Planning Meeting (SPM).

Know what SPM is and understand how to effectively implement the same in your projects.

To get an idea of how to improve agile project management by the help of activities one should attend Scrum Master Certification.

What is it?

 The entire team meets across the table along with the product owner. The owner priorities product backlog and the team accept to work on it for every sprint. The scrum master is the facilitator of this meeting. Basically, the team together brainstorm and plan action to meet the goal of the project.

Frequency of SPM

 There are usually 4 weeks sprint which will have SPM during the start of every sprint. Which means, weekly one meeting lasting for one hour. It is a must to begin every sprint with a discussion to understand where the team stands and how to proceed further. It is not to discuss why things went wrong, but to manage time to move forward to the next sprint completing pending backlogs and accept the new task.

Participants

 The stakeholders attend based on the invite but the scrum team including the developers, master, owner, and the testers must be part of it without fail.

Outcome

 The output of the SPM is to understand the backlogs and assign the same with the team to work on the same.

Ok, this looks fine theoretically. But, when trying to implement practically there are a lot of roadblocks. It is not easy to get people in one platform to agree upon action item. Also, when the team size is big or the project is complicated, then manual planning will have its own limitation. That is when reliability on tools happens.

Find below two tools that help the master to execute SPM in the most effective manner. Know their features to use them appropriately in your projects.

1.Planning Poker – com

It is a digital card that helps the scrum team to set goals by collective planning and estimation based on mutual agreement. It is available for free and can be purchased on a monthly or annual basis. The free version will allow a team of 10 or fewer people to plan their teams sprint goal. Larger teams can invest in a paid version with rich features. It is like a game and hence enthuse teams to feel lighter to plan heavy tasks.

Features of Planning Poker in SPM

  •  It can be played in both PC and Mobile devices. Therefore teams distributed across locations can be part of the SPM.
  • The multiple pointing scale will allow you to choose and build a sprint matching the team size.
  • These are games yet offers protection from prying and you can log in to play from your personal space.
  • Scores can be edited and teams can be built on mutual agreement.
  • Larger teams can be accommodated by expanding the game room.
  • Stories can be exported to manage the sprint.
  • Team velocity can be monitored to keep a check on the team goal accomplishment.
  • Acceptance criteria and story details can be included for estimating accurately.
  • Quickly you can import your planning to TFS, JIRA, and VersionOne software.

How to plan using planning poker

Create an account with the help of the dealer and make necessary settings. Then the dealer will add the user story based on your need for estimation. Now, you get an invite from the dealer to play your turn. Discuss with your team about the active user story let all choose one card. After all, cards are selected the dealer will flip the cards.

Now, the planning poker will average the scores of the flipped cards. If you are fine with the scores, then move to the next user story, else edit the score discussing with your team. Planning happens in a more stress-free manner.

2.RealtimeBoard PlayBook for Sprint Planning – realtimeboard.com

This is nothing but a board used online to help your team plan the sprint activities. It is similar to the board that you are currently using in the office. It offers a free version that can be accessed by any number of people but with 5 editable boards. It can be integrated with slack.

Features of RealtimeBoard PlayBook

  • You might be aware of planning using excel sheet and now you can migrate to the online realtimeboard tool that offers several enhanced features.
  • This can be accessed from PC and Mobile devices (Android and iOS).
  • Paste all your backlogs from the spreadsheet to the realtimeboard.
  • Stay connected with users across the globe and share screens to discuss ideas.
  • Any number of files can be added in image, video, docs, or spreadsheets.
  • It can be integrated with JIRA.
  • Digital stickers and templates are premade.

How to plan using realtimeboard

 All backlog items must be imported to the board by adding the task using the digital stickers. Then arrange the backlog on the board using links, shapes, and frames. Make a decision of where to monitor the sprint and hence monitor the progress. Make sure to keep the details in a place that provides 3600 letting all participants view.

Suggestion to move forward

Thus, today you have learnt about two new tools to make your sprint planning effective than before. Start using these tools free version to master their features before you purchase.