How Should Scrum Teams Plan Work To Be Performed Within Sprints?

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Scrum teams should plan work within sprints by conducting a sprint planning meeting involving the Product Owner, Scrum Master, and development team members. They collaboratively establish a sprint goal that aligns with the product vision and provides value to the stakeholders. 

Preparing for Sprint Planning

Before engaging in sprint planning, Scrum teams should properly prepare to ensure a productive meeting and well-defined sprint goals. This preparation process involves multiple steps that set the groundwork for successful sprint execution. To prepare for sprint planning, teams should consider the following:

  • Review and update the product backlog: Ensure it is well-organized, prioritized according to the needs, and items near the top have clear descriptions, acceptance criteria, and estimates.
  • Determine team capacity: Assess the team’s availability for the upcoming sprint, considering vacations, holidays, and other commitments, to understand how much work they can commit to.
  • Gather necessary inputs: Collect any relevant information, such as customer feedback, analytics data, or technical documentation, and make it accessible to the team.
  • Invite stakeholders: Identify and invite key stakeholders to the sprint planning meeting, including the Product Owner, Scrum Master, development team members, and others who can offer insight or expertise.
  • Set the agenda: Create a clear agenda for the sprint planning meeting, with time allocations for each section (e.g., backlog review, sprint goal discussion, task breakdown) and share it with participants beforehand.
  • Prepare tools and resources: Set up tools for backlog management, task tracking, and estimation (e.g., JIRA, Trello, or a physical task board), and ensure all team members have access and familiarity with their use.
  • Establish ground rules: Set expectations for the sprint planning meeting, such as timeboxing discussions, active participation, and respectful communication.
  • Review the Definition of Done: Ensure the whole Scrum team has a shared understanding of the Definition of Done (DoD), outlining the criteria a product backlog item must meet to be considered complete.

By following these steps, Scrum teams can conduct efficient and productive sprint planning meetings that foster clear communication and set achievable sprint goals. This, in turn, helps the team work more effectively and ensures smoother collaboration, ultimately resulting in improved project outcomes.

Managing Unplanned Work and Adapting Within Sprints

Scrum teams must be prepared to manage unplanned work and adapt within sprints as changes or unexpected tasks arise. To manage unplanned work and adapt effectively within sprints, teams should:

  • Assess the impact: Evaluate the urgency, priority, and potential impact of the unplanned work on the current sprint goal and the team’s capacity.
  • Communicate transparently: Encourage open communication among team members, the Product Owner, and the Scrum Master to address any new issues or changes as they arise.
  • Make informed decisions: The Product Owner, in consultation with the development team and Scrum Master, should decide whether to include the unplanned work in the current sprint or defer it to a future sprint. Consider factors such as the sprint goal, team capacity, and potential risks.
  • Update the sprint backlog: If the unplanned work is added to the current sprint, update the sprint backlog accordingly. Remove or adjust lower-priority tasks to accommodate the new work, keeping the team’s capacity in mind.
  • Re-estimate: Re-estimate the remaining work in the sprint to ensure that the team can still achieve the sprint goal and maintain a sustainable pace.
  • Enhance visibility: Ensure that any changes to the sprint backlog and plan are visible and transparent to all team members and stakeholders. Update the task board or project management tool accordingly.
  • Monitor progress: Regularly track the team’s progress during daily stand-ups and address any challenges or impediments that arise due to the unplanned work.
  • Learn and improve: Use the sprint retrospective to discuss the unplanned work, identify the root causes, and determine ways to prevent or better manage similar situations in future sprints.
  • Foster a flexible mindset: Encourage the team to embrace change and adaptability as an inherent aspect of the Agile approach, while maintaining a focus on delivering value to the work.

By incorporating these practices, Scrum teams can successfully manage unplanned work and adapt within sprints, ensuring work continuity, effective collaboration, and timely project delivery.


Conducting a successful sprint planning meeting is equally important to maintain an agile work environment. Remember to set aside ample time for the meeting, encouraging open discussion and clear communication among team members. Managing unplanned work and adapting within sprints is a crucial skill for Scrum teams, as it allows for quick response to unexpected changes or challenges, further improving overall performance and boosting the team’s ability to deliver high-quality results.

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