Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Sprint 0 (0th Sprint)


What is it?

'Sprint 0' means the only sprint where we deliver 0 business value in scrum process. Recently I attended to a session @Exilesoft when Fincyka talked about 0th Sprint in projects and her team's experience with it. That was an awesome presentation and I was happy to be there because it made me to re think about this so called 0th Sprint.

How long is it ?

So if the 0th Sprint is a 0 business value sprint, how long this sprint should be ? If you search, you will find many sources which says its around 5 – 10 days sprint. But is it true?

I can remember Scott Amber ( IBM) mentioned in one of his talks @AgileIndia that, in average, the 0 sprint is 4- 6 weeks. Its based on his research.

I’ve seen many teams trying hard to fix their 0th sprint within this 5- 10 days time box. But my opinion is based on my experience with agile. I advise teams not to get in to this trap. I believe that 0th sprint duration should be completely depended on your project context. Only rule to remember is that if you do agile, you need to start producing some working software pretty fast. So if you understand the basic theory behind agility and your project context, these rules won’t matter anymore.

When we start 0th Sprint.?

Good Question.. J I have seen many new scrum teams trying to derive the backlog within the 0th sprint. Then they wonder what this scrum is all about. How do you get the idea of a huge system you got to develop within few days? At least how do you identify even enough epics within that time? Obviously something is wrong.

Usual scrum process starts from the time you have a product vision and a backlog. – Remember Ken
Schwaber once mentioned that the minimum requirement to start a Scrum project is to have a Product backlog and a product vision. So there you get the point.

My experience after practicing agile for many years (and still trying to understand it) is that 0th sprint is used mostly to do the agile modeling, be prepared for next few sprints with enough base to build up on, sometimes even writing a piece of code to prove some architecture aspect. To me, team modeling, team building and other pre-work should happen at the project initiation stage.

Only one '0 Sprint' or many of them?

Simply I don’t care what you learn during your CSM. Imagine a large project, which runs over 7, 8 months or sometimes years. You really need to have certain time in-between to do design revisits, refine the roadmaps, and do other work to be ready for next few sprints. So its obvious that you have these 0 business value delivery time boxes in between, aren’t they 0 sprints as well ?


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