Best Practices of Successful Sprint Grooming

Sprint Grooming is an essential part of the Scrum process.  Understanding what Sprint Grooming is all about and how to run sessions routinely and effectively is critical.  Here, we will dig deep into exactly what Sprint Grooming events are, who completes them, and figure out how best to execute the activities.

What is Sprint Grooming?

 Sprint Grooming

Sprint Grooming is an Agile event that is part of Scrum.  The goal of Sprint Grooming is to take a look at the backlog and come up with improvements to the content of it.  Sprint Grooming and backlog refinement go hand-in-hand.  It is a collaborative effort where the team comes together to prioritize the work in a Sprint, break down User Stories into manageable chunks of work, and comes up with a plan to execute.

Who Attends the Events?

Attendance at a Sprint Grooming event is usually going to include the Product Owner, as well as the Scrum Master.  On top of these individuals, the Agile squad will be there, along with potentially one or two stakeholders, if they are available and have an interest.

The Scrum Master has the role of facilitating the Agile event, driving it towards the goal.  The Product Owner, and potentially one or two stakeholders, will go over the priorities and detail out the items that exist in the product backlog and the sprint backlog.  

The Agile squad or team will define the work necessary to meet the goals of the Sprint, to complete the User Stories embedded within the backlog.

Preparation Before the Event

Before the Sprint Grooming session there needs to be detailed planning beforehand for it to be successful.  The Product Owner has look through the backlog and prioritize each of the items there.  The highest priority items are what should get a pull into the next Sprint, with the basis of feedback from management and stakeholders, customers.  

Sprint Grooming will take User Stories that are ready, so it is essential to have User Stories that have a mark of ready or not ready.  If something is not prepared or requires more research, it may not be time to do grooming.

Time for Sprint Grooming

During the Sprint Grooming, you want to be sure a few key factors get tackling.  

  • Estimate the User Stories - The items in the Sprint have to have an estimate next to them, representing Story Points.  The Story Points are agreed on by the Agile team overall.  You want to be cognizant of the team's velocity or capacity throughout.

  • Acceptance Criteria - Establish clear and measurable Acceptance Criteria for each User Story.  The Acceptance Criteria must seek agreement between all parties, inclusive of the Product Owner and the team overall.  

  • Incorporate the End User - Each of the User Stories also has to incorporate the user at all times.  “As a (user), I want (this feature) so that I can get (the value).”  Writing User Stories in this manner will allow for the entire Agile squad to fully understand the task at hand.

  • Size the User Stories - Be sure that sizing of the User Stories is appropriate.  A User Story needs to be small enough for one day of work; if it is not, break into smaller User Stories! 

Sprint Grooming is an achievable Agile event and one that carries high importance in Scrum.  Effective execution can lead to a successful Sprint and implementation of business value.