Author: Daniel Gullo

What’s Done Is Done – Sprints

In the first installment of the ‘What’s Done Is Done series, we talked about what “done” means in terms of User Stories for various stakeholders in an Agile project. There are two aspects of “done” that are of primary concern: Completion Criteria and Acceptance Criteria. For this article, we will explore what “done” means for iterations, commonly referred to as “sprints” in Scrum.

Sprint Planning takes the form of a meeting involving the Product Owner, Scrum Team and Scrum Master. The Product Owner discusses the current Product Backlog, with a focus on the top-priority User Stories. The conversation involves the Product Owner’s explanation of the Stories, including the Acceptance Criteria and the Scrum Team seeking clarification so that they may make informed choices with respect to estimating and what they will commit for the Sprint.
The Scrum Team then provides estimates for the Stories, often in terms of Story Points using Planning Poker, and will then commit to what they believe is within their capacity for the Sprint. The product of this meeting is a committed Sprint Backlog, which represents the User Stories that the Scrum Team will work on for the Sprint.

The Scrum Team also uses this opportunity to create Tasks for the User Stories. This activity takes place during the second half of the Sprint Planning meeting and may or may not involve the Product Owner. As the Sprint progresses and User Stories are completed, they will be demonstrated to the Product Owner who then confirms that each User Story is “done.”

It may seem superfluous to have a discussion about “done” when dealing with Sprints, which are defined as time-boxed iterations. One might ask, “Isn’t a Sprint ‘done’ when the two weeks (or whatever duration) are over?” The short answer is “Yes, a Sprint is ‘done’ when it has run its originally scheduled duration.”

The sticky part comes into play when the Sprint is over but there are User Stories that have not been completed. Does the Scrum Team get credit for partial Story Points completed? Do the full amount of points carry over with the User Story to the next Sprint (or whatever Sprint the User Story is moved to)? Can the Sprint be extended if the Scrum Team was “close”? Before we answer these questions, let’s look at the initial commitment by the team, since this will ultimately impact what is completed within the Sprint.

When a new Scrum Team is formed, there is no collective past history to draw upon that indicates how much this team typically accomplishes. As time goes on, this “Team Velocity” tends to emerge. Let’s say that we are looking at Team Sigma and their velocity after 15 Sprints is 17 Story Points (SP). Initially, in Sprint 1, Team Sigma didn’t know that its