Agile methods are used in one or another way in various areas of business. Many teams use these techniques for developing, marketing and organizing their work. One of the basics of every Agile method is Sprint. It is an iteration or cycle used in delivering work results. But it'll be wrong to think, that you can achieve something big just by dividing your work into periods. You should also plan these periods to achieve a win by the end of the Sprint.
Every Sprint is a period lasting from 2 to 4 weeks. It should have its own Goal, Definitions of Done, Backlog. To define values for this Sprint artifacts teams use an appropriate ritual: Sprint Planning Meeting.
To do proper planning you should have RRRight understanding of Roles, meeting Rituals and Results you pursue.
The initiator of the planning session is a Scrum Master. Holders of this role should organize and control processes during planning. That role can be identified with a referee in a sports match: the referee doesn't play, but he/she helps players to follow the rules. So the Scrum Master doesn't delegate tasks to team members, but he/she controls all planning processes, helps each member of the team to be heard. Also, he/she protects Agile rules and tries his/her best to let people make a consent that will suit the entire team and especially the stakeholders.
Who drives the meeting after initiating? A Product Owner has this role. The PO is responsible for bringing Product Backlog items with the highest priority to the discussion. He/she formulates and describes User Stories collected from stakeholders' feedback to the Team. The team includes every member who affects the projects. For example, in software developing not only developers take part in this meeting. Also database architects, designers and others who support the product delivery.
How long should the Sprint Planning be? The universal formula is 2 hours/per Sprint week. So if the duration of your next Sprint is 2 weeks, then a meeting shouldn't be longer than 4 hours. Scrum Master controls the meeting duration guiding a discussion to the conclusions.
The Sprint Planning Meeting consists of two parts. In the first part the Product Owner with the Team set a Sprint Goal based on the Product Backlog. Also, the PO is responsible for describing User Stories to executives. It's important to have a clear vision of WHAT stakeholders want, to formulate HOW to deliver this. When everything is clear, Definitions of Done are also written down.
The Scrum Master helps everyone to take part in the conversation and certainly keep to the rules. The second part of this meeting is up to the Executive Team. They should formulate a plan around Definitions of Done to achieve a Sprint Goal. This plan is called a Sprint Backlog.
The Scrum Master helps the team to focus on strategy before tactics. It means that the Team shouldn't write down day by day tasks with the estimated time. If the Team does so, they can lose priorities of Stories and focus on the estimated time. The Story Points represent the value and benefit whereas the time doesn't even measure a task difficulty.
Which results should you have after the Sprint Planning?
How do these results help the Team to stay Agile? When Team has a Goal, they can achieve it in different ways. Ways aren't imposed on the executives. Without Definitions of Done Team won't be sure about completing Stories and satisfying the Stakeholders. Other things can be easily changed due to some roadblocks on the Team's way.
Agile techniques and especially Sprints examples are connected to software very often. We want to change this tradition and tell you about us. This part of the article will show our variation of Sprint Planning that fits our needs.
Our mighty Project Manager, Alexander, holds the role of a Scrum Master. He initiates our content planning meeting. Vika, the most thorough marketing manager you can ever meet, has the role of a Stakeholder. An amazing SEO specialist, Vladimir, acts as a Product Owner in a content reality. He brings to the meeting some topics he definitely would like to see.
The executive team is represented by great Yana, Mark and his coffee, fabulous Valery. We discuss areas of our service use that will be promoted during this sprint. One marketing sprint usually takes one month. When the Goal is set, we talk over the main articles and projects we want to start. These are our Definitions of Done, basic points of the Sprint. Around these points we'll build another content.
Then we move to the second part: topic hunting. It's where the PO + Team are involved. We discuss the planned articles, make suggestions on how to improve them or add something to the list. Everyone in the executive team wants to light the hearts with burning words. So we are very excited to take part in the Sprint Backlog planning.
To make Agile Methods fit us, we created another interesting technique. Mark tells everyone that he's invented a new SMM method called Article Driven Content. Others think that he's at least formulated it well. The main point of ADC is: "Never lose researches done in the article writing process".
So once written, the article leaves an opportunity to do a lot of mentions to itself or to the sources used in the writing process. Mark and Vladimir use this method when they plan the Social Media Subsprint. It takes 2-3 weeks usually. The Subsprint bases on the Sprint Backlog and helps them to generate more traffic to articles, connect all media channels with useful content considering topics from different angles.
I hope that the article will help you to plan better, execute your sprints and make a profit.
If you want to know why the Article Driven Content is a great power, write "ADC" in comments and we'll see that you're interested in the article about it.