Scrum @ Rackspace – Sprint Planning

This is where it all begins. Sprint planning is where the team gathers to plan the next sprint’s worth of work. What is a sprint? A sprint is a fixed time period to complete defined tasks. The sprint planning meeting is where a team selects and commits to work for the next sprint.

What does sprint planning look like at Rackspace? It depends on the team and how the team plans. Guidelines exist on how sprint planning meetings should flow; however, there is room for teams to adapt the process to their workflow.

Of the scrum meetings, sprint planning is arguably the most important. This is where the stakeholders gather to discuss the importance of upcoming features and changes within a product line. We discuss the overall plan and dive into individual features, discussing both business and technical details. As you can imagine, this looks very different for our technical writing team than it does for the team that brings you Rackspace Email, and even more different for teams charged with ensuring spam and viruses stay out of your inbox.

Each team has its own set of tools.  Some teams use spreadsheets, we’ve tried enterprise software, open source tools, and some teams even use index cards taped to the wall. Depending on team size and topic, these meetings last from a few to eight hours. In the last meeting, the team walked in to the sounds of John Mellencamp’s “Jack & Diane,” doughnuts, and juice. After settling in, we spent over three hours hashing out what the team would be working on for the next 20 days.

After lunch, we reconvened and finished discussing each feature and the team decided what it wanted to work on. Team ownership is encouraged within scrum and sprint planning. Finally, the team discusses any external dependencies, the meeting ends, and I am off to make sure this plan is documented and communicated to interested parties. Tomorrow, the sprint begins.

Rex Card is a programs manager for Rackspace.


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