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Agile Development – How Long to Sprint

Monica Colombo

Steve Mezak

August 16th, 2013

Sprints are a crucial component in Agile development to completing tasks on time and hitting relevant benchmarks. Projects made up of these short bursts – usually 1 to 4 weeks – will give managers optimal ways to evaluate progress. Sprints are a great way to monitor what’s working, what needs adjusting and how teams can pivot to achieve more success. How long you should sprint, however, is not a universal truth.

Agile developmentA sprint length depends on the client and more specifically the business requirements of the client. Belatrix gauges each client’s urgency to get the deliverable in their hands, and the sprint length is set to exhibit the progress being made.

When it comes to timetables, Belatrix advises an average of two weeks, but sprints can go up to four weeks. We don’t recommend going beyond four weeks because that long of a time would be contradictory to the Agile moniker.

If there is a very large task that necessitates extending a sprint, time should be allotted so that quality does not suffer. We recommend informing the team and the client that an extension is necessary, or that the task be broken into smaller parts. We also have an honest conversation with the client to explain how the extra time will be used, for the sake of an improved deliverable. That said, as a client you should challenge your team to be very proactive. Having an extended period of time in a sprint is not an invitation to relax. The team should feel some moderate pressure to keep the project moving in a forward direction.

When gauging time in the beginning, one guideline for determining sprint length is the information available at the start. The initial sprint is used to create a backlog of work, which includes tasks to start the team in motion. If the client’s requirements are pretty well understood and well documented, then you can have a shorter sprint because your tasks are to pick and pull features, and implement them. But if the requirements are vague and not well defined, then you should build in more time for a longer sprint — both to get clarity before all the programming work starts, and to deal with issues as they arise.

At the very beginning of the relationship with the client, sprints are discussed and defined. For us, this happens during what we call our kick off process. We define sprint durations and other factors like communications and how we will work with client tools.

No matter what sprint duration our team chooses, the important thing is you make sure everyone buys in and then runs with it. If your people are well informed through open communication, and timetables for the sprints are clearly identified, Agile development can take place for the long haul with a total team effort one sprint at a time.

If you need guidance on the best way to conduct sprints, contact Belatrix. We can help you oversee a sprint schedule that fits your group’s size and skills. When it comes to your outsourced software development needs, Belatrix will work with you to hit your project’s goals.



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