Agile Development: Sprint Zero or Not Sprint Zero?

Officially, No Sprint 0

In SCRUM time-boxed events perspective, it is not a valid sprint. It is usually the name given to do initial activities like refining > product backlog, architecture envisioning, prioritization and release planning etc. Thus, there is no Sprint 0.

Ken Schwaber (one of the Scrum Founder) offered the following observation in reply:

“Exactly … sprint 0 has become a phrase misused to describe the planning that occurs prior to the first sprint … and since planning creates artifacts that often change, it should be minimized prior to the first sprint, and then occur every sprint at the sprint review/sprint planning meeting (just in time planning)”

Why Sometimes Sprint 0 is Applicable?

There are no one-size-fits-all ways to work, but some agile teams consider Sprint 0 is necessary in many cases. It can be used to mitigate many of the common risks and save resources in software development projects. They believe Sprint 0 can help to plan for more accurate budgets and timelines, increased accountability, and reduced waste. Sprint Zero, unlike pre-planning, is not a requirement for agile projects. Quick and efficient Sprint teams may not have any use for Sprint Zero procedures.
spike 0 in scrum

Sprint Zero for New Agile Team

Having a Sprint zero is only compensating for the level of maturity of your team in its ability to deliver requirements to an iterative, incremental executing development team. You have to deal with where you are today and not hope for people to change overnight.

According to Manifesto.UK:

“Sprint zero might also be used in some organizations to train and coach a team that is entirely new to Scrum so that they’re familiar with the basic concepts, can experience the new working rhythm etc. It might also be used to populate the product backlog with a few high-level items in preparation for the first sprint planning meeting.”
scrum framework

In Sprint 0, we shouldn’t try to get too much accomplished, it is recommend a let the new team to run-in by doing the following kind of activities:

  1. Start backlog refinement early to prepare the team for coming initial sprint.
  2. Ensure that the working environments are set up such as whiteboard, team workspace and hardware equipment, software, meeting place and etc.
  3. Establish your test approach (test frameworks, process, etc.).
  4. Put any required automation and best practices in place, i.e. continuous integration, automated releases/deploys, etc.)


For a new agile team has never worked together before, the Sprint 0 could help the team set up and get to know each other, which will help them at the sprint planning of Sprint 1. Although, most of the agile practitioners consider Sprint 0 does not offer real value (or shippable) to the stakeholders, which is true. However, it might also be the case that there will be not much real value yielded from a Sprint 1 causing by the lack of preparation.

Ready for Agile?

Want an agile tool that can manage your scrum projects well? Visual Paradigm features a user story mapping tool, Affinity Estimation tool, sprint management tool, and task management.

Try it Free

Turn every software project into a successful one.

We use cookies to offer you a better experience. By visiting our website, you agree to the use of cookies as described in our Cookie Policy.