George V. Reilly

Sprints

Sprints

Scrum and Agile revolve around sprints. At my previous employer, I spent two years working in one-week sprints. At my current job, I’ve spent another two years working in four-week sprints.

Each has their own rhythm. We ran the one-week sprint from Wednesday to the following Tuesday. Wednesday morning, we’d demo the previous week’s work and we’d plan, drawing up a series of task cards, measured in hours. With a one-week horizon, you couldn’t go very far off track. You can’t get a huge amount done in a week either. You need to have a bigger picture in mind that transcends several weeks. We released every couple of months.

On the first Monday of the four-week sprint, we review the sprint backlog and break down the features into finer grained tasks. In the fourth week, we look at the product backlog and prioritize the features to go on to the next sprint’s backlog. Features are measured as Small (1 week), Medium (2 weeks), or Large (4 weeks). On the fourth Friday, we have demos. We also estimate our velocity for the next sprint, based on how much we delivered in the current sprint. This determines how much we sign up for at the beginning of the next sprint.

With the four-week sprint, you build up momentum and you have enough time to deliver sig­nif­i­cant func­tion­al­i­ty. The planning is harder though.

I prefer the rhythm of a four-week sprint, but I could go back to the shorter one.

Today is the last day of a four-week sprint. We got a lot done, though it came down to the wire yesterday.

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