Proven and Successful Agile Sprint Delivery Strategies for Success: 156 Sprint Milestones with Twycis

13 Mar, 2024 | 5 minutes read

In the fast-paced world of agile development, the key to a successful sprint lies in a strategic plan, a prioritized backlog, and a clearly defined sprint goal. Central to this process are the sprint planning meetings, where our development team collaborates closely with the product owner and scrum master to align on the objectives for the upcoming sprint. The prioritization of user stories in the product backlog by the product owner sets the direction and focus for the sprint backlog, paving the way for targeted efforts. 

Our collaboration with our esteemed client, Twyics, is a prime example of this methodology in action. Together, we achieved a remarkable milestone of 156 Sprints to Success, showcasing the power of effective teamwork and agile principles in reaching sprint goals. As each sprint drew to a close, both our team and stakeholders eagerly anticipated the outcomes and prepared for the next set of challenges. The sprint retrospective sessions played a crucial role in this cycle, offering a moment for introspection, learning, and refining our practices for even greater efficiency.

Leveraging tools like Jira for tracking progress and ensuring transparency, we’ve navigated the complexities of project management with ease. This journey with Twyics stands as a testament to the strength of agile methodologies in driving continuous improvement and securing significant achievements in the software development landscape. Dive deeper into our agile journey and discover more insights in our following blog.

What is a successful Sprint?

In the common agile way or working used by many teams today, at the end of the sprint, the team tells the client how much of the work the team delivered and how much work was postponed for the next sprint.

The disadvantage of this way is that it is not reliable and predictable, it leads to creating dependency and delay for other teams who are unable to plan around or trust in the delivery of promised work.

How do we operate and make sure the sprint plan is completed on time? 

Our goal is to always deliver 100% of the sprint that we committed to do. In our sprint review meetings, we demonstrate and confirm that we have delivered a fully functional system, which has been thoroughly tested and verified by our team.

Navigating the complexities of delivering agile sprints successfully is a challenge for any team. In two weeks, many challenges can occur that can impact the sprint delivery like: shifting priorities, unexpected production issues, team member unavailability, delays from dependencies from other teams, wrong estimations, etc. all of which can jeopardize sprint outcomes if not carefully managed in sprint planning meetings. 

SCRUM process

Despite these obstacles, the Java team at @IWConnect managed to accomplish what may seem impossible: Deliver 156 successful sprints without a single delay on a single project and still doing it every day, every week. This remarkable accomplishment may sound like fake news, but it is a true achievement. 

Here, we share our strategies and insights that significantly improved our sprint delivery success rate: 

Stable Sprint Scope 

Once the client approves the sprint planning, we lock in the sprint scope and estimations, ensuring the sprint backlog is clear and actionable. The only exception is critical production issues that require immediate attention. In such cases, we reassess the situation, act and estimate the production issue, then place stories from the current sprint to the next sprint and recalibrate our focus.

Rigorous Agile Sprint Planning

Our planning and grooming sessions include detailed discussions on potential risks and dependencies for each story, which are vital parts of our sprint planning meeting to ensure a realistic sprint backlog. If a story relies on functionality/dependency from another team, we can mock the functionality (API) and proceed with development, temporarily removing the dependency, integrating the actual functionality once available in the next sprints. 

Clarity and Measurability to stay Agile

Each story features a detailed description and acceptance criteria that can be easily measured, simplifying the verification process for our Quality Assurance (QA) team and making it easier to incorporate into the sprint backlog. 

Documented Specifications 

We base our stories on detailed business specification documents, which are always verified and approved by the client. Without this approval from the product owner, work on a story does not begin, ensuring alignment with the upcoming sprint goals. 

Dedicated Demos

We conduct two sprint demos: an internal review at the end of the sprint and a client presentation following the end of the sprint, which are crucial components of our sprint planning meeting. The initial internal demo allows us to identify and fix bugs before time, ensuring a smoother presentation to the client. 

Strategic Team Composition

Our team includes developers, QAs (Quality Assurance), business analysts, project managers, a delivery manager, and a scrum master, each with defined roles and responsibilities. Our collective goal is the successful delivery of each sprint. 

Emphasis on Quality

By following strict quality and coding standards, we minimize production bugs. This focus helps us avoid distractions that could impact sprint delivery, this is why we are heavily invested in UI automation and integration testing to meet our sprint goal efficiently.

Proactive Problem-Solving

We take any blockers to sprint progress seriously and work collaboratively as a development team to resolve them. If a story is blocked due to a dependency or lack of information, we escalate the issue through the project hierarchy until a resolution is found, ensuring the upcoming sprint is not jeopardized. 

Continues Improvements for effective sprint planning 

Following each sprint, we dedicate time to retrospectives, identifying challenges and mistakes noticed by the team, as a result we are outputting lessons learned and action points that will improve the team in the future.

By adopting these approaches, we have not only improved our sprint delivery process but also promoted a culture of efficiency and reliability within our team. Effective agile sprint planning is crucial for the success of agile development, setting clear, achievable goals at the start of each sprint. Through careful selection of backlog items during the sprint planning session and ongoing refinement, the development team, led by the product owner and scrum master, ensures that each task is aligned with the sprint’s objective. Regular sprint reviews and retrospectives allow the team to assess progress and adapt for future sprints, maintaining momentum and focus throughout the agile process. This disciplined approach, underpinned by best practices and continuous improvement, is key to achieving successful outcomes in each sprint and the overall project.

The client consistently receives what we have promised, on time and without any surprises, while the team takes pride in their work. Every sprint delivery is celebrated with a team gathering at a local bar, acknowledging the hard work of the software development team. The result is testament to the Java team’s hard work, dedication, and strategic thinking. 

This is why our way of working is called “Happy Sprint Machine”, after every sprint everybody (client and dev. team) is happy.