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What About The “Sprint Goal”?

A sprint goal describes the main purpose of a sprint.  It provides a shared common objective, ensures focus and flexibility, and explains why it’s worthwhile implementing the sprint and helps the team with determining the Definition of Done.

If you have a clear sprint goal and you’re still struggling with constant changes during the sprint, you may want to ask the following questions:

  • Is the sprint goal too big?
  • Are we splitting focus and not allowing much flexibility?
  • Are development team members doing other work outside of your team?
  • Is the Product Owner changing the sprint goal during the sprint?
  • Are we discovering diverging perspectives on what a product backlog item actually means during the Sprint?

Here’s a sample of unclear Sprint Goals and the modification to make them clearer:

Unclear Sprint Goals Clearer Sprint Goals
Enhance shopping cart functionality. Streamline purchasing process to enable an increase in conversion rates.
Improve performance. Decrease page load time by X%.
On-board new market segment. Enable new market segment to purchase Service Y.

Table Credit: Stephanie Ockerman

The team should work with one shared goal, this will ensure that everyone is moving in the same direction.  Make sure at the end of the sprint if the goal has been met.

Some of the benefits of a sprint goal are:

  • It supports prioritization
  • Helps to obtain relevant feedback
  • Creates team focus
  • Makes it easier to analyze the feedback

When writing a good sprint goal, a sprint goal should be SMARTER. When you develop your KPI’s, you can add Evaluate and Review to the acronym to progress from SMART to SMARTER.

  • Specific – Applies to a clearly definable component of the project that is objective and not open to subjective interpretations
  • Measurable – The associated metric is objectively derived from a source other than the project team (software application or standardized reporting)
  • Attainable – The KPI is well within the promised capabilities of the project team, and does not represent a stretch goal
  • Relevant – The KPI represents a natural and meaningful outcome of the process that is worthy of being measured and tracked
  • Time-bound – The KPI specifically cites the required measurement and/or completion period
  • Evaluated – The key indicators need to be measured as they can be effected even though they may not be part of the contract with the supplier
  • Reviewed –  Long term effects and external changes need to be reviewed as changes to the business occur

Remember that when trying out new things will require failure, which is OK – don’t stress! Failure creates the empirical data required to make informed assumptions about what should and can be done next.  Failing early will help you succeed in the long term.

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