February 02, 2021

What's a Sprint Board and How You Can Use It in Agile Sprint Planning

In agile theory, you plan only one single sprint ahead. But as we all know — theory and practice don't always align. The sprint board is designed to overcome this potential limitation. This blog post deals with the idea of the sprint board and approaches on how you can make the best use of it in agile planning.

Gerald Aquila

Gerald Aquila

605 words • 6 minutes

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First, we should clarify what a so-called sprint is in agile planning. A sprint is a cycle or a period of time in which a team completes tasks. Typically, a sprint lasts about 1-4 weeks, but the team decides how long a sprint should last to create a good working rhythm. These sprints are then represented on the sprint board. If you want to learn more about this agile method from scratch, read our article about Scrum.

The sprint board is a special kind of Kanban board where each column represents a sprint in an agile project.

The sprint columns are organized in a temporal sequence so that the board "grows" over time to the right. Each sprint column includes the stories in prioritized (ranked) order. The rightmost column is special in that it contains the project backlog, i.e., all open stories that are not yet assigned to a sprint.

Agile-Sprint-Board Figure 1: Agile Sprint Board

The intention behind this sprint board's layout is that it suddenly becomes easy to drag & drop stories between sprints — making multi-sprint planning much clearer and more efficient. It also gives you a significantly better overview of which stories are currently scheduled for which sprints.

But why would you want to drag & drop sprints since the agile theory clearly states that you only plan one sprint into the future?

The answer is simple: because it often makes a lot of sense from a product management/project coordination point of view. For instance, you might have to deal with shared resources in sprint planning, even though this should not be the case in agile theory. (But please raise your hand if you have never had to deal with this problem.) Another reason may be that you have technological dependencies between stories, and you want to make sure that you schedule those with lots of dependencies in early sprints. Or you want to keep track that the sprints are finished early enough.

Agile Resource Management with Sprint Boards

Because of the seamless integration of resource management in ONEPOINT Projects, our sprint board gets a unique feature: the background color of sprint columns dynamically changes its color displaying the current utilization of the sprint when you drag stories in or out of it. This utilization provides you with a useful indicator of whether your sprint planning is realistic or not.

With ONEPOINT's sprint board, resource management becomes possible for agile project planning.

ONEPOINTs-Sprint-Board Figure 2: ONEPOINT's Sprint Board

The colors of the sprint board's columns indicate:

  • Blue: You still have a lot of capacity
  • Green: Denotes good capacity utilization
  • Orange: You might be too optimistic
  • Red: There is a good chance that the team won't be able to complete all stories in this sprint.

Sprint utilization is automatically calculated based on the sprint team's available capacities. The team velocity is based on the last three sprints, and the story points are computed based on all stories in the sprint.

Learn more about our resource management integration in our features.

Summary

In summary, the sprint board helps you get a more transparent overview of your sprint planning and allows fast and efficient replanning. It even supports you with lightweight resource utilization planning (when needed). Sprint boards are a perfect companion to structure your work and be more effective.

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Relevant Project Management Terms

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