How to run Sprint Planning with collocated and remote teams

To address the need for agility, many organizations have adopted Agile Scrum or other Agile approaches. However, applying Agile frameworks to modern organizations is not as easy as it may appear.

The biggest roadblock? The application of outdated techniques and tools that can no longer adequately support development teams, especially distributed teams.

In this playbook, we will outline how a Sprint Planning event can be deployed by Scrum Masters using modern visual techniques and tools, regardless of team location. This use case is based on the article written for a RealtimeBoard guide to effective visual collaboration in Agile development. Check it out to help your team become more productive!

What is Sprint Planning?

Sprint Planning is an Agile Scrum Event that assists Development Teams in creating a transparent understanding of what can be built and how. During the Sprint Planning meeting, the team defines the goal, scope and norms for the Sprint. In this phase, the team agrees on how the Product Backlog brings Increments and commits to what should be implemented in the Sprint.

Sprint Planning key players

It is critical to include the right people in this Event. Here are the key players that should be included:

 The Scrum Master should act as the organizer and the facilitator of the Sprint Planning meeting;

 The Product Owner is the stakeholder in the Sprint, the decision maker whose problem requires resolution. The Product Owner also determines the success of the Sprint;

 Every member of the team should be invited and attend the Sprint Planning meeting. The “team” is the group of individuals whose input and skillsets are required to achieve the goals of the Sprint.

60

minutes teams traditionally dedicate to Sprint Planning for every week of the Sprint. This time is used to assign Backlog items for the upcoming phases of the Sprint based on the team’s velocity and the length of the Sprint.


The Sprint Planning glossary


Sprint Goal

A clearly defined outcome for the Sprint.

User story

A short description of the product need from the end-user perspective.


Product Backlog

An ordered list of everything that is known to be needed in the product.

User story mapping

A popular method for estimating and prioritizing each user story.

The RealtimeBoard Sprint Planning playbook

Our customers’ experience has taught us that the value of visual collaboration, especially for distributed teams, cannot be underestimated. Our customers’ overall results improve when visual techniques are deployed for Scrum and other frameworks. To demonstrate that, here is a step-by-step guide for Sprint Planning design using RealtimeBoard.

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Step 1. Advance Backlog refinement

Before the Sprint Planning commences, the Product Owner should ensure that the Product Backlog is healthy. This Event is known as Backlog Grooming or Backlog refinement. An updated Backlog sets the stage for the Sprint Planning. Backlog refinement includes the following tasks:

 Remove completed stories;

 Redefine and confirm remaining stories;

 Prioritize each story;

 Review the estimated time required for each story.

Whichever practice the team uses to prioritize the tasks – user story mapping, feature mapping or any other the standard features for this session in RealtimeBoard typically include:

 Different Backlog import types: physical sticky notes, cells from spreadsheets or Jira issues;

 Pre-made templates;

 Tags;

 Jira integration.

Backlog refinement steps in RealtimeBoard:

1. Create a new board and invite your team members by opening the “Share” settings. When they accept the invitation, every individual edit is viewable and saved.

Sharing the board with a team

2. Add a user story map template from our template library. Simply press the “plus” icon on the left toolbar > Templates > User story map. Or create a custom template using sticky notes.

User story map template

3. Fill in the template by using digital sticky notes.

User stories estimation using tags

4. Estimate user stories with digital stickers and tags.

5. Does your team use Jira? Before starting your session, ask your Jira admin to connect RealtimeBoard to Jira. You can import issues to the board, convert stickers to Jira cards or create new cards right on the board.


Read how Ron Lichty, an Agile expert, estimates user stories in RealtimeBoard with digital stickers and tags.

Source: managingthe unmanageable.net

6. Divide tasks into sub-tasks and reflect these in Jira. To do so, simply create a new card using the card picker.

Backlog refinement using Jira integration

7. Convert stickers with user stories to Jira issues. With the click of a button, the RealtimeBoard stickers are converted into Jira cards and automatically synced.

8. Keep your backlog visible on the board or move it to Jira or another preferred tool. To keep the Backlog on the online board, organize content using frames, shapes and links.

Useful tips

Connect your offline whiteboard with RealtimeBoard

If you did a previous Backlog refinement session on a physical whiteboard using sticky notes, simply transfer the results to RealtimeBoard. Open the RealtimeBoard mobile app for iOS or Android and choose the “capture notes” feature to take a picture of the paper sticky notes, which will then be recognized as digital stickers on the online whiteboard.

Paste your Backlog from a spreadsheet

If you keep your Backlog in a spreadsheet, copy Backlog items from the spreadsheet and paste them on the board as sticky notes, where each sticker represents a single cell.

Validate your ideas with customers on the board

You can connect with users or customers remotely via the online whiteboard, share screens and discuss the ideas that need to be validated freely.

Step 2. Debrief

Before starting the Sprint forecast, the Scrum Master will lead a brief overview of the relevant Retrospective results. This is also the time for the Product Owner to share news, perspectives and market changes so that team is all current and everyone is on the same page.

RealtimeBoard debrief features:

 Editable sheets for Google Docs or spreadsheets;

 Pre-made templates;

 Website image copy-paste;

Debrief steps in RealtimeBoard:

1. Add your previous Retrospective results to the template by using digital sticky notes. You can find a Retrospective template in our template library. Simply press the “plus” icon on the left toolbar > Templates > e.g. “Start, Stop, Continue.” Or create your own Retrospective template using shapes, sticky notes and text to present the most important Retrospective results.

2. Add any files you need to support your team debrief: Google Docs or spreadsheets, images, web page captures or video.


Build any layout as Bobbie Manson from Mingle Analytics demonstrates in this article.

Source: mingleanalytics.com

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Step 3. Setting the Sprint forecast

Next, it’s time to get to work. The Sprint forecast is the list of stories the Product Owner has requested the team complete in the Sprint. Depending on the complexity of the Sprint and the experience of the team, the velocity of the project will be assessed and adjusted in this phase.

RealtimeBoard features:

 Jira integration;

 Digital stickers;

 Pre-made templates;

 Screen sharing.

Sprint Planning steps in RealtimeBoard:

 Import the Backlog items to the board. If you use Jira, import Jira issues into your Sprint Planning board. If you don’t use Jira, add tasks to the board using digital stickers or paste Backlog items from the spreadsheet;

 Organize your Backlog on the online board using frames, shapes and links.

 Decide where to track the Sprint. Track your progress on the board to keep the details in one place so that a 360-degree view is available for the team and stakeholders. Simply add a Scrum/Kanban template from our template library or create your own template using shapes, sticky notes and text. Or you can move the meeting results to Jira or another preferred tracking tool.

Scrum board vs. Kanban board. What’s the difference? Follow the link and learn about 11 major differences.

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Scrum/Kanban board template

Online Sprint Planning with a distributed team

We’ve heard from customers that it can be challenging to establish an efficient Agile process with distributed teams. Remote team members can’t see the whiteboard, but even more importantly their participation is limited because they cannot put pen to paper or attach a sticky note to the board.

Video conferencing is a common alternative, but it can’t replace the feeling of physicality and is subject to its own problems such as camera failures and bad audio connectivity. This alternative still limits engagement due to the inability of the team to fully participate.

Online whiteboarding tools offer all the benefits of traditional whiteboards, while giving every participant an unhindered view along with the ability to add and edit information in real time. An online whiteboard can be used in a single location on a shared computer, but has even more value as a tool for remote users.

For teams that want to roll out or improve their Agile processes among distributed teams, RealtimeBoard provides a solution.

 Team members can actively participate by leaving notes, creating sticky notes and listing ideas right on the online whiteboard in real time.

 Increased visualization improves engagement, team collaboration and camaraderie.


Read how Nikos Raptis, a Scrum master, adapted a retrospective ceremony for his new distributed team members

Source: twitter.com

 Virtual ice breakers are an important part of the process for remote teams, especially if they are new teams. A virtual ice breaker exercise can help to overcome many of the challenges these teams face, particularly trust and distance.

 The results can be held on an endless board, and the team can come back to them when needed.

These short ice breaker games help the team get to know one another and develop camaraderie, which is critical to the success of the Sprint.


Many companies have already learned personally the benefits of using visual collaboration techniques and tools for Sprint Planning. It not only amplifies the results for all organizations moving to an Agile approach, but also helps to overcome the challenges that remote teams face.

Why our playbook contributes to successful Sprint Planning

Many Scrum Masters face the same challenge: the need to establish, enhance or scale modern Agile processes. Time and time again we have seen companies struggle to use Agile processes because they are reliant on outdated tools. Stop wasting valuable time and energy throwing outdated solutions at modern processes! It is time to embrace the next level of technology to match the evolution of the Agile process. We hope you will find this Sprint Planning playbook useful for your next Sprint. And we’d like to hear from you. Let us know in the comments below how this approach worked for your team.

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