Why You Should Work in Sprints

Kasper Nymand
3 min read

Working in Sprints is part of the agile project management methodology. Basically, sprints introduce a way to organize your workload into smaller packages. In other words, instead of having a never-ending list of to-dos directly in your workflow, you have a backlog of tasks, and then the organized sprints with a defined sprint length.

The sprint length is a set period of time, often 14 days, in which the selected tasks have to be implemented. If anything is blocking a task from progressing, and you reach the end of the sprint, the task will either go back into the backlog or move on to the next sprint.

Benefits of Working in Sprints

Working with Sprints is great if you manage more complex projects, and projects that are prone to experience changing demand and requirements over time. It adds an extra level between your Statement of Work (SOW) and the actual implementation. Smaller work chunks mean that it is easier to make changes along the way if anything goes wrong, or if something seems off from the demand of the end customer.

Some examples of companies that can highly benefit from running Sprints are, e.g. software development companies, digital agencies, hardware design, and in general product groups that are under continued development with new trends and needs coming from the customers. But why structuring work in sprints actually helps them get more done? 

“It’s not just about speed,” writes John Zeratsky, the best-selling author of Sprint and Make Time. “It’s also about momentum, focus, and confidence.” The companies who use sprints, in Zeratsky’s opinion, see consistent results from the process. Here are some reasons why it happens:

Sprints pull teams from abstract to concrete thinking. Running a sprint on a particular question means breaking the work down to the smallest pieces, which in turn allows you to think about the issue in a more tangible way. 

Sprints prompt teams to focus on what’s important. Starting the next sprint is all about building a shared understanding of the challenge. After everyone knows what to work on, teams become laser-focused and spend their time on the right things.

Sprints sharpen the decision-making process. Transparency at all levels is another thing sprints promote in the workplace. As teams start to participate in the decision-making process, they understand how choices are made and where key decisions are coming from. 

Sprints incite faster follow-ups. Considering that teams have a fixed time frame to solve the problem, they’ll have to collaborate closely to get work done. Sprints will move everyone away from wandering in thoughts to doing things.

Tim Casasola, a Product Strategist at Sanctuary Computer and a former partner at The Ready, a consultancy that helps Fortune 500 organizations, elaborates on another benefit of working in sprints, saying that sprints help teams expend energy in a maximally effective way.

I think there is something to be said about expending energy in a way that is most effective. I agree that work isn’t about running as fast as you can, but sprints, to me at least, means channeling your energy in a way that is most productive for your work and your own well-being.

So we’ve explained the why, but what’s so specific about the sprint planning process? Usually, a sprint starts with a planning meeting and ends with a retrospective.

Sprint Planning

Planning the sprints is often done during the so-called sprint planning meeting. This meeting is often held in cooperation with the client, or directly with the consumer in mind. The previous sprint is reviewed, tasks are prioritized, and then added to the next sprint. Collaborating with the client and consumer during sprint planning ensures that you create the greatest possible value for the end user while avoiding the risk of missing the actual demand or desire.

Sprint Review

At the end of each sprint, a working demonstration of the newly implemented features are presented to the Product Owner, and perhaps the rest of the team. During the meeting, the team compares the results to the commitment given at the beginning of the sprint. If everything seems to be alright, the sprint is completed.

Retrospective

After a couple of sprints or immediately after every sprint, depending on your desire and needs, most businesses will have a Retrospective meeting. The retrospective is meant to look back on the previous sprints. What went well, what didn't go as planned, what could be changed to improve, any general questions, and how is the team environment functioning at the moment? Also, if any significant feedback or suggestions have been received this is shared with the team.

Want to Learn More?

We hope this short introduction to Sprints, within the Agile with Scrum methodology, has given you some insight and potentially some clearance of what to do. If you want to learn more, we also have our full guide, looking into applying Agile with Scrum in your project team:

beginner's guide to agile with scrum

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