What makes Sprints so powerful?
Sprints are one of the pillars of Agile development methods, which our team at Askida has been using for over 10 years now to supercharge the development cycle and develop high-quality software solutions. Sprints allow the development team to divide projects into intervals of time (usually 4 weeks, but a project can be divided into longer or shorter intervals, depending on your needs). At the end of a Sprint, the team evaluates the work that has been accomplished during the Sprint and does a retrospective before starting a new Sprint. This analysis can help the team identify potential adjustments and areas of improvement from one Sprint to the next.
While the concept of a “Sprint” may seem simple at first glance, Sprints possess many advantages that make them surprisingly powerful. Sprints give teams a solid, reliable structure, a clear direction and positive momentum, while also providing flexibility. It’s easy to see why the Scrum guide describes Sprints as “the heart of Scrum.”
Here are 5 key advantages of Sprints:
Easier to control size and scope of the project
Sprints divide projects into intervals of time, and planning is usually done according to these intervals. In other words, Sprints require decision makers to work in collaboration with the development team to figure out how the different functionalities and modules that need to be developed can fit into the number of Sprints the budget allows. This structure encourages transparency and regular communication between all members of the team and the Product Owner. Thanks to the structure that Sprints provide, team members usually know exactly how the module or functionality that they’re developing will fit into the project as a whole.
Sprints are consistent, which allows the development team to measure how fast they’re progressing and determine its velocity as a team. Over time, the team understands better its capacity to accomplish certain tasks and the way the different specialists are working together, allowing the team to predict with more precision when a functionality or a module will be delivered. As a whole, Sprints allow the team to optimize its predictions over time.
This stability also makes it easier to manage budgets and scheduling. For example, a Product Owner could decide mid-project that an unplanned module or functionality will have to be added. Using information such as the team’s velocity, it’s possible to determine how many additional Sprints would be required to develop the requested functionalities, how this would affect the budget and if the proposed functionalities would generate enough business value to justify this additional investment.
Shielding the team from chaos
Without a reliable structure in place, software development can be incredibly chaotic. Priorities change along the way, new ideas are introduced, etc. There are plenty of software development horror stories out there. When asked to talk about software development, the independent consultant and writer Bent Adsersen usually cites roman emperor Augustus, whose maxim was “Festina lente,” which means “Hurry slowly.” In other words, panic and chaos can be disastrous for the development team.
Sprints involve defining concrete objectives, which are stable, transparent for the entire team and do not change during a Sprint. At the end of a Sprint, the team can assess new information or new business needs before determining the objectives of the next Sprint. This continuity makes Sprints both stable and flexible, giving the team a built-in structure for changes. As a whole, Sprints shield the team from a chaotic development cycle while also allowing modifications to occur.
Some projects involve unknowns, and theories or ideas established at the beginning of a project can turn out to be incomplete or inefficient. If necessary, Sprints can allow the team to explore a new solution, a new technique or a new direction without disturbing the entire project. Sprints can structure this exploration by limiting its impact to the duration of a Sprint. Sometimes, the team has to hit a wall to figure out the ideal solution to a concrete problem. In this kind of situation, Sprints allow the team to get answers quickly and efficiently and acquire new knowledge.
In the end, dividing a project into intervals of time, knowing the velocity of the team and having a built-in structure for changes allows the team to make better decisions more confidently. The team ends up producing more business value not because programmers are working faster, but because each line of code is a better investment since every functionality was developed in close collaboration with the Product Owner using Sprints as a structure for the project.
Agile development methods can also mean agility at the level of business practices. To quote Ken Schwaber, the founder and president of Scrum.org, agility allows organisations to “harness change for competitive advantage.” If your organisation is in the process of transitioning to Agile development methods, Askida’s experts can facilitate this transformation by accompanying your team and helping you put into place the best development methods. With Sprints and agility, your organisation can reach new heights.