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Sprint: the Heartbeat of Scrum

A Sprint, as described in the Scrum Guide, is a time-boxed period of one month or less during which the Development Team works to produce a “Done” product increment — a useable and potentially releasable product.

One Sprint starts as soon as the other finishes; there is no gap between Sprints for additional work to happen. This continuity means that each Sprint must contain all the other Events in Scrum: the Sprint Planning, Daily Scrum, development work, Sprint Review and the Sprint Retrospective.

Each Sprint may be considered a contained piece of work that lasts no more than a calendar month.

This constraint means the Sprint includes:

  • a Goal of what the Scrum Team is aiming to deliver
  • a plan of how to achieve the Goal (including some form of design)

This helps focus the work to reach the Goal and the incrementally improved product to provide the value.

Shorter is better

The limit of a single month for a Sprint, while hard to achieve for some organisations at first, delivers several significant benefits for the product development.

  • we can remain responsive to changing customer needs
  • breaking down work, (often called slicing) to fit comfortably inside the time constraint reduces complexity
  • it helps to expose risks and assumptions
  • the total cost at risk is only the length of the Sprint itself

A few other rules surround the Sprint to ensure success:

  • No changes can be made that will endanger the Sprint Goal
  • Quality remains mandatory; you can not reduce quality to deliver more quantity
  • As a Scrum Team learns they may re-negotiate or clarify scope with the Product Owner

If you are interested in learning more about Scrum, please see our training pages.