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​What is a Sprint and Why Are They Important in Agile Development?

If you've heard of the agile process, you've probably heard about it's value in developing quality software, but you may not actually know what it is or how to implement one. Simply put, agile software is a dynamic, iterative and collaborative approach to developing software. Rather than a linear line of development that is static and uncompromising (known as Waterfall), the agile process is a responsive approach that operates within the framework of your business plan or goal. It values individuals or teams who interact and collaborate over fixed processes and tools.

The agile process is based upon ceaseless and incremental development, within certain time periods called sprints.

This article answers what is a sprint in Agile development and why are they important for your business.


Sprints are one of the methods used in agile software development. The purpose of a sprint is for a team to develop demonstrable software under time constraints. The Product Owner alongside teams, decide what will be achieved and when it will be achieved by. Due to this time limit, software has only the most essential functionality and features.

Traditionally, scrum sprints were a month-long. However, team's today prefer shorter sprints taking only one to two-weeks. Always consider the length of the project to determine a sprint’s time-frame. Shorter projects call for short sprints. Also, if there are any new team members, they’ll adapt quicker to the regular meeting process if sprint’s are shorter.

Every team member should complete their task within the allocated time. The first sprint should set the tone for the rest of the scrum process, as well as determine which teams do what.

Sprint Meetings

During the sprint, there are 4 kinds of meetings:

  • sprint planning
  • daily stand ups, or Scrums
  • sprint review
  • sprint retrospective

First, there's a sprint planning meeting. It’s done at the start of each sprint and requires user stories to be prioritized. The Product Owner discusses with the teams which user stories will be accepted, how many, and the tasks needed to complete them.

Basically, sprint planning determines what will be done, and how it will get done. It’s important teams agree on the work they'll do and not go too deeply into the stories.

After the meeting is finished and the work decided, the Product Owner cannot add anything extra. However, it is possible the latter can cancel a Sprint, but this shouldn't happen often unless there is sudden change in business needs.

Scrum Meetings

During the sprint, team members host daily Scrum meetings. These meetings should last no longer than 15 minutes. Use a project wall and have your team stand up in-front of it.

Each team member should talk about their work and progress, answering:

  • What they did yesterday
  • What they’re doing today
  • and, about any barriers that are getting in their way

It’s important the Scrum is kept brief. However, make sure each team member sufficiently answers all the questions.

Review and Retrospective

The sprint concludes with the sprint review meeting, in the same way it began with the sprint planning meeting. The teams present their work to the Product developer. Stakeholders can be present, and if necessary, teams can explain which stories haven’t been finished and why.

From there, the teams discuss what worked, what didn't, and what can be improved. This is called the sprint retrospective meeting.

The Benefits of Sprints

Sprints foster teamwork and collaboration. Because everyone is involved, there is a shared commitment for the work. A report conducted by Frost & Sullivan found that companies which invested in collaboration technology and strategies had a 400% return on investment.

This collaborative note rings throughout the entire Agile process. Barriers are removed and title and job descriptions are left outside. Cohesive teams are working together to develop the most valuable product with the least time to market.

The sprint process also allows the Product Owner to properly articulate software requirements and discuss openly with the team to clear up any ambiguities. If done correctly, the sprint will get it right the first time.

However, it's important that the Product Owner during a sprint encourages developers to focus on short-term goals. This provides customers with a tangible taste of progress and what's to come. Though software release may require many sprints, each iteration builds off prior work, ensuring its success in the market.

To learn more about sprints or the agile process, and how it can benefit your business, contact us and talk with one of our professionals.

Posted By Dwayne McGowan | 2/20/2015 11:35:31 AM