When Should a Sprint Goal Be Created?

In the Scrum framework, Sprints defined as short and consistent periods of time in which the Scrum team creates a Done increment of value representing a concrete step toward achieving a Product Goal. Each Sprint the Scrum Team focuses on a smaller goal: the Sprint Goal. But when should a Sprint Goal be created? The short answer: each and every Sprint. 

What is a Sprint Goal?

To answer the question “when should a Sprint Goal be Created?” we need to build up a bit more context on what a Sprint Goal is. While Product Goals describe a larger goal lasting many Sprints, Sprint Goals provide focus toward the incremental steps to accomplish them. Essentially, it creates a tangible objective to be accomplished in a Sprint, which are anything under a calendar month usually lasting one to four weeks. 

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Depending on the industry, Sprint Goals can be quite different. Regardless of industry, Sprint Goals establish a reason for the team to work together rather than separately, create focus toward business objectives, and create the boundaries necessary for a Scrum Team to self-manage.

Examples of Sprint Goals include:

  • Build a basic payment system for our website.
  • Allow tenants to remotely open their unit door.
  • Ensure our K-4 students can recite the alphabet.

Why Do We Need a Sprint Goal?

Sprint Goals give Scrum Teams focus on a small business objective. They give teams a filter to run work through that helps them avoid doing anything unnecessary that Sprint. Sprint Goals help Scrum teams work together rather than on separate things pulling the team apart. Sprint Goals create transparency into business objectives and why teams built what they did in their Sprint. They also serve as a target for Sprint Planning. A single Sprint Goal is a required commitment to the Sprint Backlog and is created each Sprint. With that out of the way, we can now answer the question “when should a Sprint Goal be Created?

When Should a Sprint Goal Be Created?

When should a Sprint Goal be created? Let’s formally address the question. A Sprint Goal is created during Sprint Planning. It’s common to use the Product Backlog and the Product Owner’s wishes to influence the Sprint Goal, but the entire Scrum Team creates and commits to delivering on this Sprint Goal. While the Sprint Goal represents a commitment by the Scrum team, it provides flexibility, allowing individuals to figure out how they can best achieve the goal through the work that is done. 

Sprint Goals create transparency. They do so by making clear what high-level problem the Scrum Team is working on and why they are working on it. During the Daily Scrum, your Sprint Goal will be the main topic of conversation as you measure progress toward achieving it and adapting your plan for the next day. Each Sprint Goal accomplished gets you one step toward achieving the Product Goal. Just to recap: when should a Sprint Goal be Created? Before Sprint Planning ends.

How the Sprint Goal and Sprint Backlog Work Together

To build on the answer to the question “when should a Sprint Goal be Created?” its helpful to see how the Sprint Goal and the Sprint Backlog work together. In the same way that the Product Goal represents a commitment to the Product Backlog, Sprint Goals are a commitment to the Sprint Backlog. In short: a Product Backlog has a Product Goal while a Sprint Backlog has a Sprint Goal.

The Sprint Backlog is a highly visible, constantly updated picture of the Scrum Team’s work, one that allows team members to inspect their progress during the Daily Scrum. The forecasted work and the plan to deliver that work can change throughout the Sprint as more is learned. The Sprint Goal does not change throughout the Sprint. Its established in Sprint Planning by the Scrum Team and the team adjusts the forecasted work throughout the Sprint to ensure the Sprint Goal is accomplished and a Done increment is made available by the end of the Sprint. 

Let Us Help

So then when should a Sprint Goal be created? I hope we have you covered there. At its core, Scrum provides a way for product development teams to creatively and productively deliver products of the highest value. Through the five events, three artifacts, three commitments and three accountabilities the framework helps organizations increase business agility and mitigate risk.

Responsive Advisors has a long track record of helping organizations (and leaders within them) transition to more nimble and sustainable problem solving methods. We create and deliver curriculum that helps you build knowledge about Scrum and the complimentary practices that help make it work in your organization. 

If you’d like to learn more about how we can help, we invite you to have a look through our website and contact us with any questions.­­­

Greg Crown

Likes baking, craft beer, whisk(e)y & beaches.
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