Sprint Planning – Why are Sprint goals important?

In a organizational level Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) complex projects, there are multiple Agile Release Trains setup and operated to cater to the different needs of business. The portfolio level epics are broken down into features and features are then broken down into stories. Though we set objectives for the team to work for next 10 weeks during PI-Planning, sprint goals are outcome of sprint planning and still more important for various reasons. Let's dive into those reasons in this post.

  1. Creating Focus and Direction
  2. Incremental delivery
  3. Planning and Flexibility
  4. Transparency and Accountability
  5. Motivation and Empowerment

Creating Focus and Direction:

While PI objectives provide goals for 10 weeks or so, sprint goals for a sprint length of 2 weeks creates a great focus and clear direction for the team. Setting sprint goals aligns the team's efforts to a common objective so they can streamline their work and adjust their direction as and when needed.

Incremental delivery:

One of the core principles of Agile development is delivering incremental business value to the stakeholders. The sprint goal should be such that, the expected business value out of the current sprint is clear defined in a SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely) way. Often, teams tend to set the goals by just ticking of few important stories of the sprint backlog which doesn't work well all the time. Instead of serving as a checklist for the sprint, sprint goals should be defined such that by achieving it, we deliver an increment in the end of the sprint.

Planning and flexibility: 

Sprint goals should be well defined and should not be changed unless product owner decide to make the sprint obsolete. How is it called "flexible" then? Well, the team's work should revolve around the sprint goal. But that doesn't mean their sprint backlog cannot be adjusted. During Sprint planning, team loads the sprint with the items based on their capacity, ranking and business priority. While sprint goals provide a concrete focus on items to deliver, it allows us to plan and adjust our sprint backlog throughout the sprint without jeopardizing the goal as such.

Transparency and Accountability:

Setting sprint goals promotes transparency and accountability in the team. Every member of the team knows what is the set-goal for the sprint and everyone are made accountable in sprint planning to achieve it. It allows for increased collaboration within the team and support each other when needed to drive the team towards achieving the goal.

Motivation and Empowerment:

Having well-defined sprint level goals can significantly enhance team motivation and empowerment. Clear goals provide a sense of purpose and allow team members to see the direct impact of their work. The satisfaction of accomplishing sprint goals boosts morale and encourages a sense of ownership and responsibility for the overall project.

In a nutshell, Sprint level goals serve as building blocks for successful Agile development. By setting clear and meaningful goals for each sprint, teams can enhance their productivity, deliver high-quality outcomes, and ultimately achieve project success.

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