How to create an agile sprint in Jira Software

Scrum is one of the most popular agile methodologies. Many development teams use Scrum to organize their work and deliver better results, faster. Fortunately, agile teams can take advantage of Scrum-ready tools like Jira Software to enhance their processes, boost productivity, and deliver tangible business value. 

One of the most important elements of the Scrum framework is a sprint. Jira Software allows teams to work with sprints in unprecedented ways, customizing their workflows to reflect the way they work and taking advantage of sophisticated features that make sprints even more rewarding. 

Read on to learn how to create an agile sprint in Jira Software and make the most of this tool for your agile team.

But first, what is a Scrum sprint? 

A sprint is a repeatable, fixed timebox during which the team creates a product of the highest possible value. Sprints are the core of the Scrum methodology. They are an event wrapping around other Scrum ceremonies like daily standup meetings, sprint retrospectives, and sprint planning. 

During the sprint, development teams set a time frame during which they commit to completing a specific item of work. That work needs to reach the “done” status and be ready for review. Every sprint begins with a planning meeting during which the product owner and the development team agree upon what work will be completed during the sprints. 

It’s critical that the development team accurately determines how much work it can realistically accomplish during one sprint. The product owner will have more influence over the criteria that need to be met for the work to be accepted. The Scrum Master determines the duration of the sprint. 

Most of the time, a sprint lasts two weeks. Once the sprint begins, the product owner needs to allow the team to do the work on their own. During the sprint, the team meets every day for the daily standup meeting to discuss problems and come up with solutions to challenges. 

At the end of the sprint, the team meets again for a sprint retrospective. That’s when team members get to analyze what went wrong and what went well, coming up with solutions for improving future sprints.

Here’s how to work with sprints in Jira 

So, you created your Jira software account and a new Scrum project. Your project backlog is filled with issues. Now it’s time to create a new sprint.

Step one: Create a new sprint 

Go to the backlog of your Scrum project. You will see the Create sprint button at the top of your backlog. Click on it, and you will be transported to the screen for creating a new sprint. Remember that you can create more than one sprint at the same time. For example, if you’re planning work several weeks in advance, it’s a good idea to create a few sprints right away.

Step two: Fill the Sprint with stories from your backlog 

Once your sprint is ready, you can fill it with issues coming from your backlog. Before doing that, you need to organize a meeting with your team and discuss which work they are going to commit to completing during a given sprint. Make sure that you add enough work to engage every team member for the entire duration of the sprint. 

If you’re doing this for the first time, you might not be sure how many issues you need to add. There’s no need to worry – this is something teams usually figure out over a period of time. With every sprint, you will learn how many issues estimated with story points your team can deliver. 

Thanks to Jira Software reports, your team will be able to accurately estimate the amount of work they can commit to during one sprint. That’s how you get started: you need to have your team estimate the issues in your backlog. Once the sprint is over, you will be able to see how much of that effort the team actually delivered. Over time, you will learn more about your team’s capacity for work and plan future sprints more accurately. 

Note: One of the best estimation methods for Scrum teams is story points. Instead of using time, have your team assign different story points that reflect the amount of effort required for a given task. Go through every task in your backlog and see whether the team agrees on how much effort it will take. Once you reach consensus, you’ll be able to estimate your sprint correctly. 

Step three: Add stories to your sprints

Now it’s time to navigate to the backlog. You can drag-and-drop issues from the backlog into your sprint. Moreover, you can add an issue to your sprint by editing an issue and updating the sprint field.

Step four: Start your Sprint 

Once all the issues are ready in your sprint and your team can start working on them, it’s time to start the sprint. You can only start a sprint if you haven’t started one already. Sometimes you may want to have more than one active sprint at the time, and it’s possible to do that in Jira. You will need to implement Parallels Sprints features for that.

You can also only start a sprint if that sprint is at the top of your backlog. If you want to start a sprint which is located lower down on your list, you will first have to move it to the top.

To start a sprint, go to the backlog of your Scrum project, find the sprint, and then click Start sprint. If you need to, you can add a sprint goal and change the sprint’s name at this point. You can also select the start date and end date of the sprint. 

Most of the time, sprints last two weeks – this is a good amount of time if you’re only beginning to adopt the agile methodology. In general, it’s long enough for your team to accomplish something but short enough to allow your team to get regular feedback.

Step five: Monitor your team’s progress 

As your sprint goes by, it’s a good idea to monitor your team’s progress to make sure that everything is going well. Jira Software allows doing that thanks to the sprint report. In general, during sprints teams come together to complete stories they committed to at the sprint planning meeting. 

Since they usually require collaboration, it’s a good idea to stick to another Scrum ceremony: standup meetings. If you organize them every day, you’ll know what every team member is working on and whether they are encountering any blockers that prevent them from completing tasks smoothly.

Step six: Close the sprint 

Once your sprint is over, it’s time to close it. You can do that by navigating to the active sprints of your Scrum board. You can also select the sprint you want to complete from the sprint drop-down list. If you have multiple sprints located in the active sprints of your board, you won’t see the complete sprints back on until you actually select one of the sprints. 

Once you click the button, all the completed issues will be moved out of active sprints. However, if your sprint has something incomplete issues, you will need to move them to the backlog, a future sprint or a brand new sprint. 

Watch out for these patterns

Is your team finishing sprints early? They might not be committing to enough work during a single sprint.

Is your team missing their forecast sprint after sprint? That’s because they might be committing to too much work to be completed during one sprint.

Have a look at your burndown chart – do you see a line making steep drops rather than more gradual burndown? That’s because you haven’t broken down your work into granular pieces.

Also, remember that adding or changing the scope mid-sprint is a serious mistake.

Key takeaway 

Jira Software is an agile-ready tool that helps teams following agile methodology such as Scrum to organize work and be more productive. Sprints are the most important part of the Scrum framework, and teams depend on them to deliver work regularly. 

That’s why it’s a good idea to equip your team with a tool that helps to keep at all the sprint-related information in one place. 

Are you looking for Jira Software experts to help you configure the tool to match the unique requirements of your Scrum team? Get in touch with us; we help organizations take full advantage of Atlassian software for their agile teams.

Katarzyna Dorosz-Zurkowska

Katarzyna is a real Capitan of the Deviniti Spacecraft. She manages our astronauts and does it in a cosmic way. In Deviniti she loves how much everyone can develop themselves. She is really proud of the fact that more than 2 million people from companies such as Samsung, Deloitte, Comarch, Allianz, HSBC, and Credit Agricole have trusted us. In her free time, she likes to bake muffins, play with Legos, and do jigsaw puzzles.

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