What is a sprint goal?

A sprint goal is a shared high-level objective that describes the key outcome for each sprint that a Scrum team undertakes. In the same way that a product vision guides the longer-term direction of a product, the sprint goal guides the development team on why it is building the current increment. It also covers why it is worthwhile undertaking the sprint, and what value it will deliver to the product owner.

A good sprint goal doesn’t reiterate the top priority user story for the sprint e.g. “the goal for this sprint is to deliver “US12345 Add Address to the customer record”. It should be at a higher level than that, describing the intention behind undertaking the sprint and should help the team understand the purpose and impact of the work they are doing.

Benefits

Sprint goals have several benefits:

  • Helps the Scrum team focus.
  • Drives collaboration within the Scrum team.
  • Helps with prioritization during the sprint.
  • Guides feedback from stakeholders.

The team could ask at the sprint review, “Do the stakeholders feel that they had completed the goal?”. It could determine who attends the sprint review in the first place based on stakeholder interest.

How to use

The sprint goal is a mandatory part of the Scrum framework. It is collaboratively created by the Scrum team during the sprint planning meeting. Its creation is typically guided by the product owner with the development team then deciding which functionality and technology it will implement to fulfill the goal.

Other things to consider:

  • Is it S.M.A.R.T (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound)?
  • Is it visible? If you use a physical task board then add it on a post-it to the top of the board, if you use a tool such as Jira then populate each sprint’s goal in the tool.
  • Is it referred to frequently throughout the sprint? The purpose of the daily scrum is to “inspect progress toward the sprint goal” and all of the typical three questions at the meeting refer to the sprint goal so it should be a constant topic of discussion for the team.

 


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