Sprint Goals: What Are They & How to Meet Them

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When working in a scrum framework, it’s important to have a roadmap of when your project will be complete — and how you’ll get there.

Sprint goals are a crucial part of ensuring your team completes projects on time and gives developers measurable milestones to make sure they’re on target.

Here’s what you need to know about what sprint goals are, their benefits, and how to write smart sprint goals.

What Are Sprint Goals?

Sprint goals are specific, measurable outcomes that lay out what should be completed within each set period of an overall project.

For example, there may be four sprints — each two weeks long — to complete a project or feature that’s goaled to launch in eight weeks.

Each sprint would have those measurable goals to ensure the project is completed on time. These goals help each developer know how the tasks they’re working on contribute to the overall project.

As problems arise, developers determine what is necessary to complete the sprint on time. Other tasks are moved to later sprints. This helps ensure all developers can work together to complete sprints on time and keep the project timeline on pace.

Note: While it’s important to give developers measurable goals so they know how their individual work contributes to an overall sprint or project, don’t give too much detail. Leave room for flexibility to ensure they can meet those goals, and they’re not overwhelmed and bogged down with too much detail.

Benefits of Sprint Goals

There are many benefits to using sprint goals in a scrum framework.

  1. Ensure Projects Are Completed On-time

Setting sprint goals helps ensure that each sprint and the overall project are completed on time.

If developers were to fix every minor issue as it comes up, what was supposed to be a two-week sprint could take two and a half weeks — either giving your team just one and a half weeks for the next sprint or pushing back the entire project timeline.

Forcing your developers to prioritize what’s essential and see the importance of getting smaller tasks done within a sprint keeps your team on time and accountable.

  1. Establish Flexibility and Encourage Decision-making Under Pressure

As you lay out the goals for each sprint, it will force your developers to prioritize what’s most important and think creatively when problems arise. What is absolutely necessary to complete the sprint, and what can wait until later?

Having a guide for what’s essential to complete the current sprint will encourage your developers to consider:

  • How can I solve this bug in the most time-efficient manner without causing more delays?
  • Are there smaller problems that I can address at a later date to ensure this sprint’s goals are met, and the timeline is still on track?
  • How can I adjust my current plan of work to address this issue and still meet the sprint goals?

While sprint goals should serve as measurable markers that show a developer their role in completing a project, they should offer individuals enough flexibility to adjust their work to meet them as necessary.

  1. Give Developers a Clear View of Their Role in Projects

Without having a clear understanding of how their day-to-day tasks integrate into a larger project, it can be confusing and demotivating for developers.

However, sprint goals help each developer see how their work contributes to each sprint and the overall project.

This helps them:

  • Stay motivated to complete projects on-time
  • Determine how to execute tasks most effectively
  • Get excited to get projects into production
  • And more

Examples of Sprint Goals

Sprint goals may vary depending on each overall project and what you want to achieve. Here are some sprint goals examples you can have on your team.

Scrum Sprint Goals

Let’s say you’re a company with an established, well-functioning website in the U.S. For your next project, you want to launch a U.K. version of the site.

The first sprint would focus on getting that site to launch with minimal features, while the following sprints would add additional features until the site is in complete running order as your company desires.

Sprint 1 Goals:

  1. Build the framework for the U.K website.
  2. Create the ability to list U.K-specific products and track inventory.
  3. Make payment systems compatible with pounds instead of U.S. dollars and ensure proper conversions.
  4. Create a landing page that leads customers to the U.S. or U.K. site depending on their location.
  5. Put the site into production for U.K. shoppers.

For the next sprint, you would create sprint goals on implementing new features and fixing any issues that arose within the first launch — like adding a buy now pay later (BNPL) option, adding additional product description dropdown menus, implementing a company blog, etc.

How To Write Sprint Goals

Here’s what you need to know about writing sprint goals and meeting them effectively.

1. Create a Timeline for a Larger Project

Whether it’s the initial launch of an app or website, an overhaul in the redesign of your app interface, the implementation of new features, or something else, determine the end date at which that project should be complete.

2. Break the Project Into Several Sprints, and Set Timelines for Each

Once you’ve identified the end date for your project, you can break it down into sprints with a smaller project for each.

The length of sprints can vary based on the story points that will be required for each. Some may be longer than others, depending on the tasks to be completed for each sprint.

3. Identify Measurable Impacts for Each Sprint

This is where you write sprint goals for your team to see as you identify the steps that go into planning each.

Anticipate risks and plan for bugs when possible. However, as mentioned, don’t go into too much detail.

  • What do developers need to know to complete each sprint?
  • How do you define goals without leaving room for interpretation?

4. Adjust as Necessary

As your developers work on tasks in each sprint, problems will inevitably arise. Allow room for re-prioritizing certain tasks, and focus first and foremost on what’s essential to completing each sprint’s goals on time.

Then, as you complete that sprint, you can evaluate the tasks you left for later and weave them into the next ones.

5. Eliminate Technical Debt as You Go

As you finish each sprint, determine where there’s unnecessary work that could be eliminated.

  • Were there specific tasks that could have been prioritized differently to save your team an hour of time?
  • Would implementing a new tool, system, or methodology save your developers time consistently?

Eliminating technical debt will help your team ensure each sprint and the project is completed on time. It also ensures you’re not spending time on tasks doing unnecessary work.

The Bottom Line

In a scrum framework, sprint goals are necessary to ensuring your project stays on its timeline.

Lay out your sprint goals. As problems arise, work with developers to determine what’s necessary to complete the sprint and what can wait until later.

This way, you’ll ensure your team prioritizes the essential tasks to complete a sprint and keep everything on its timeline — without wasting time on unnecessary aspects that can wait until later and would make the project late.

FAQs

Here are some answers to FAQs about sprint goals.

What are agile vs. scrum sprint goals?

While you may hear the terms “agile sprint goals” and “scrum sprint goals,” they are actually the same thing. Sprints are associated with scrum, which is an agile framework.

Why are sprint goals important?

Sprint goals are important because they give you tangible milestones. They help ensure your software development project is on track beyond having team members complete individual tasks.

Especially when things don’t go as planned, it helps team members cut back on unnecessary work so the project — and all the necessary tasks to complete that project — can still get done.

Are sprint goals necessary?

While you could manage without explicit sprint goals, team members will fill in the blanks with their own ideas about what the goals should be. This can result in people working toward different goals, which is likely to complicate things and put your project behind schedule.

Sprint goals force your team to agree on how to prioritize the most important tasks. When something unplanned arises, your team will re-evaluate what needs to be done first and what can be put off until later to ensure your sprint goals are still met, and your project makes it to production on time.

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