What is a Sprint Goal?

Sprint goal is a high-level summary of the goal the product owner would like to accomplish during a sprint, frequently elaborated through a specific set of product backlog items. A Sprint goal can help:

  • Scrum Team deliver value every Sprint
  • Development Team stay focused
  • Product Owner determine priority

A sprint goal is a short, one- or two-sentence, description of what the team plans to achieve during the sprint. It is written collaboratively by the team and the product owner. The following are typical sprint goals for an e-Commerce application:

  • Add, remove and update quantities for the shopping cart
  • Develop the checkout process: pay for an order, pick shipping, order gift wrapping

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How Does Sprint Goal support Sprint Planning?

While it’s easy to gather a bunch of Backlog Items to work on in a Sprint, it’s a little harder (but much more valuable) to have a set of Backlog Items that fit together and in this way, provide more business value. The following list of Product Backlog Items (PBIs) which has been selected during the Sprint Planning session: with a sprint goal of “Profile Management” for a User Forum Development Project:

  • Change profile description;
    Binding e-mail Account;
    Binding Mobile Phone No;
    upload a profile image;
    Delete account.

These product backlog items would fit the sprint goals, providing the whole team with a shared perspective on what to do in the current Sprint.

Who Set the Sprint Goal?

According to the Scrum Guide:

“During Sprint Planning the Scrum Team also crafts a Sprint Goal.”

Thus, the Sprint Goal is determined by the Scrum Team. Product Owner, Development Team and Scrum Master together.

Note That:

  • The Product Owner is responsible for maximizing the value of the product and he/she manages the Product Backlog. During Sprint Planning the Product Owner suggests the objective of the upcoming Sprint and proposes which Product Backlog Items will help achieve this objective. But the suggested objective is NOT the same as the Sprint Goal.
  • The Scrum Master is a servant leader who helps the self-organizing Development Team. The Scrum Master certainly does not determine the Sprint Goal.
  • The Development Team should determine how it aims to achieve the Sprint Goal and create the increment. They do not determine the Sprint Goal on their own.

(Source: Willen-Jan Ageling – Who Determines the Sprint Goal?)

Sprint Goal and Sprint Backlog

The Sprint Planning Meeting is attended by the product owner, Scrum Master, and the entire Scrum Team. Outside stakeholders may attend by invitation of the team, although this is rare in most companies. Two defined artifacts that result from a sprint planning meeting as shown in the Figure Below:

Sprint Planning Meeting
Sprint Planning Meeting

The Sprint goal is typically define in the first part of the Sprint Planning Meeting in the following main steps:

  1. Product owner presents the ordered backlog items to the team.
  2. Team discusses and understands the work for this Sprint.
  3. Team forecasts and commits on the items that can be done.
  4. Team creates the Sprint Goal for this Sprint.
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