What Is the Best Day to Start a Sprint?

2 April 2014

Paulo Dias
Bank of New York Mellon


I have worked for three years on a particular Scrum project where we always started the sprint on a Wednesday and ended on a Tuesday. It worked very well and we never had a problem.

I have recently moved to another project where the sprint starts on a Monday and ends on a Friday, and for the first time it made me think about whether it is a good idea to start on a Monday.

Unfortunately, I can see more disadvantages than advantages.
  • If you are practicing Scrum where part of the team is based in the United Kingdom and the rest is elsewhere, the U.K. has at least four Mondays a year that are always holidays. This is a problem, because if your sprint starts on Monday, the UK-based team members will not be able to participate in the sprint planning meeting -- which is not ideal for any Scrum team.
  • Some holidays also fall on a Friday (Good Friday, for example), which means that possibly ending the sprint on a Friday is not a good idea. And remember that Friday is a nonworking day in the Middle East region.
  • My experience of team members based in India and others offshore is that many team members leave early on Friday to go back to their home cities for the weekend (they sometimes travel to other states and need to leave early). As we know from Murphy's law, if anything can go wrong, it will go wrong on the last day, when half of your team planned to leave early for the weekend.
  • Friday being the last day of the week means that people are usually tired and not so able to concentrate to finish the sprint (they just want to go home for the weekend).
  • Starting the sprint on Monday will tempt teams to work over the weekend to finish stuff that was not finished on Friday. In certain circumstances this can be acceptable, but in the long run, it is not good for any team to know that they have the weekend as a buffer to complete the sprint before the code snapshot on Monday morning.
If you start a sprint on a Monday, the only benefit I can think of is that the team had the weekend to relax and therefore would be in a good position to concentrate and commit to a new sprint.

I am convinced, however, that the disadvantages outweigh the benefits. I personally feel that the best day to start a sprint is indeed the Wednesday, where concentration levels are usually very high.


Opinions represent those of the author and not of Scrum Alliance. The sharing of member-contributed content on this site does not imply endorsement of specific Scrum methods or practices beyond those taught by Scrum Alliance Certified Trainers and Coaches.



Article Rating

Current rating: 4.8 (4 ratings)

Comments

Prabhakar Gumma, CSP,CSM, 4/2/2014 10:50:22 AM
I completely agree. A very good thought provoking article.
Khurram Mahmood, CSP,CSM, 4/2/2014 2:18:51 PM
Good article, I totally agree with this.
Charles Cain, CSP,CSM,CSPO, 4/2/2014 3:03:37 PM
Good Article Paulo. The team that I work with the most starts their 2 week long sprints on Wednesdays and ends them on Tuesday. This give us Monday to do sprint planning, Tuesday for review and Wednesday to start fresh.
Steve Lewry, CSM, 4/3/2014 8:32:50 AM
Good article!! Within one of the teams I am a Scrum Master we agreed to work by having the Sprint Planning on the Thursday followed by a week of no meetings apart from the daily Scrum. The following week we have the Product Refinement meeting on the Monday, Sprint demo/review and Retro on the Wednesday and then Sprint Planning again on the Thursday, which all works well for the team.
Tim Baffa, CSM, 4/8/2014 3:53:31 PM
Yes, very good points Paolo. In my experience, mid-week sprint starts work best. Most Sprint ceremonies occur either at the start or end of a sprint, which would be on a Monday or Friday if you adopted that model.

Also, it is unwise to have a team come in on a Monday and immediately begin working on either a new sprint or the Sprint Planning process. Better to have them start the week with a clear idea of the near-term team objectives.
Vishal Gupta, CSM, 5/13/2014 5:52:54 AM
Good article.
William Oleksy, CSM, 5/29/2014 3:15:44 PM
Good article. I have seen Monday - Friday sprints work and fail for many of the reasons you stated. If it is a highly motivated team and high functioning then I do think it can work well, I have had a number of teams of people who can be categorized as workaholics (weekend workers) that have told me they really enjoy Monday - Friday because ending before the weekend gives them a feeling of freedom where they don't have to worry about missed goals, and getting everything done before the weekend is a good motivator for them, and pass or fail they are done. For these people if a sprint spans the weekend such as a Wed-Tuesday sprint they will feel pressure to work on the weekend to make sure they meet their goals.
Most of my teams have moved to a model where they go from Sprint Review directly into the Sprint Planning “What” meeting followed by retro, so on a Monday-Friday sprint they finish with a clear idea of what the new sprint goals are but don't do the how/tasking till Monday when they are fresh and ready to go. They also get to finish their Friday with a nice retro and then maybe some personal learning and growth before they leave for a few days.
Since my organization is all located in one place we don't have to worry about holidays as much but where we do have an issues is that the most taken vacation days are also Mondays and Fridays so a sprint can really be affected since the whole team is not always available.
Amy Meyers, CSP,CSPO, 5/29/2014 4:11:45 PM
In my experience the Wed -> Tues sprint schedule has been most successful. Too many holidays, vacations, etc around the weekends. In addition, if sprint planning is Monday, many team members feel inclined to work the weekend if work was not finished prior to the sprint close.
Helen Skillern, CSM, 7/2/2014 9:16:28 AM
I agree. I Scrum Master a team in India and Sprint planning on a Thursday works well for us.

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