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How we do Sprint Planning 2

Many people think Sprint Planning 2 (the second half of the Sprint Planning meeting) is just about creating and estimating the list of tasks for the selected product backlog. This cannot be a bigger over-simplification! Here is simple approach to conducting an effective Sprint Planning 2 Meeting.

In Sprint Planning 1, the Implementation Team and the Product Owner negotiated which "stories" would be implemented in the coming sprint. The team made sure it understood the stories, in particular the acceptance criteria (I recommend agreeing on 'How to Demo').

During Sprint Planning 2, the Implementation Team must figure out how to solve the problem it took on in Sprint Planning 1. This consists of two parts:
  1. A solution concept - a design, architecture or whatever, which explains how the problem is to be solved/feature is to be realized.
  2. A list of tasks - what steps must the team do to get each selected backlog item to the state 'done'.
The goal is not an absolutely perfect design or task planning. It's about getting a clear enough concept that the team can start work.

In my coaching, I have found it effective when the team members work in pairs in a solve-present-solve-present sequence. They brainstorm the technical concept, then present it to the team. Depending on the feedback, they may need to enhance, modify or possibly even rethink the concept. Again working in pairs, they then create task cards, showing the route to "done." Finally, each pair presents these tasks to the entire team.

Let us assume the team has committed to 6 stories, that there are 6 team members, and that the team is doing 2 week sprints. So the Sprint Planning 2 is time-boxed to 2 hours. The team forms 3 pairs and each pair works on two stories. So the agenda for the meeting is as follows:

Agenda for Sprint Planning 2

14.00 - 14.05 Start - pair off and divide the stories among the pairs.
14.05 - 14.35 Concept - each pair brainstorms on the technical concept (producing a diagram, text or something which can be presented to the rest of the team)
14.35 - 15.05 Present - each pair presents their solutions to rest if the team. The presentation and Q&A time for each story is time-boxed to a total 5 Minutes (30 Minutes / 6 Stories )
15.05 - 15.35 Tasks - each pair creates a set of tasks to get their stories to 'done'. Each task represents a goal for the day. The tasks are not estimated, but should be completable in one working day or less. This saves a lot of effort!
15.35 - 16.00 Present - again, each pair presents the tasks needed to get their stories to done. In the course of discussion, they may discover missing or unnecessary tasks. Each story is time-boxed to 4 Minutes (25 Minutes / 6 Stories ).

This approach ensures that at least 2 people have thought intensively about each story. It gives structure to the meeting, so the team can accomplish the meeting within the time-box. And by presenting and discussing the solution within the whole team, the rest of the team is much better positioned to help out during the execution of the sprint.


Unknown said…
Hello Peter,

I've translated your interesting post in french :
Comment réaliser le Sprint Planning 2

Regards, Fabrice
Peter said…
Merci Beaucoup, Fabrice!
Anonymous said…
Hi Peter. I consider the sprint planning 2 both difficult and crucial, so I appreciate your advice on this.
I wonder though whether it is really possible to present, ask&answer questions about a solution for a story in 5 minutes, let alone to present the tasks for a story, discuss them and discover missing/unnecessary ones
in 4 minutes.
Peter said…
Hi Lukas,


The short answer is: Of course you can! Just set and stick to the time box. When the time is up, the time is up.

The goal of the Sprint Planning 2 is not an absolutely perfect design or task planning. It's about getting a clear enough concept about how to move forward that your team can start.

This approach is somewhere between an individually produced concept and planning poker. By getting the relatively large and diverse team thinking about the story, you get people with differing perspectives to look at the problem and provide feedback.

I would suggest you try it and see how it works (and post a comment here to share your experience)! Sometimes trying is more effective than discussing!
Anonymous said…
ok, thanks, i will.
Dov TSAL SELA said…
I like the idea of pair analysis! Thanks!
Unknown said…
Great post. Very helpful! I will try to apply this principle in my next Planning
Anonymous said…
Still relevant mid 2019. I share this post very commonly still.
One thing I've added/changed:

When the teams present to each other I really trigger them to look for flaws and try to "break the solution" that was presented. This has 2 benefits:
1. I've found that developers always have critical feedback and want to share that
2. It makes it more fun

Offcourse you need to create the right environment for this (trust), but it can bring Planning part 2 to a next level!
Peter said…
Thanks, anonymous! That's a nice tip!
Hi - I tried this but my team creates desktop applications where almost all the Stories have similar tasks (wireframing, coding, testing, code review, UAT). When I tried the above approach, the team felt the exercise was a bit forced. Perhaps we werent approaching it correctly. thanks for any advice
Peter said…
Dear @The Agile Paradigm

This is really good question.

Rather than go to the internet to look for the answer, I would have a conversation with the team to find a better answer, one that the team believes in. Here are a couple of questions you could ask:

* What is happening now? What is the pain or frustration we are feeling?
* What benefit do we want from task planning?
* What are five other ways we could get this benefit?
* Which approach would we like to try in the next sprint?

It's entirely possible that you'll find that your stories are small enough and simple enough that you don't need task planning. Maybe your stories are too small or overspecified. Maybe you'll discover you are better off with some kind of task planning.

My advice would be to treat each approach as an experiment, give it a try, and evaluate how well it worked after a sprint or two. That is what the retrospective is there for!

Good luck, and I'd love to hear how you solve this.

Anonymous said…
Thank you. That makes sense

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