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Sprint Pledge

Salient rules for effective sprint execution

31 August 2016

Abhijeet Verma
Softcell Technologies Ltd.

As humans, we have a tendency to forget things — or sometimes completely ignore things — if they don’t interest us or offer little to no value. This is sometimes deliberately done and other times not.

In terms of effective Scrum execution, important discussion points can vaporize quickly, losing their essence, but then can arise later to become a major hurdle while we are trying to achieve the sprint goal. Subtle points, even though communicated regularly, often skip peoples' minds and are not reflected when they are performing various tasks in the sprint. Many of these points are then mentioned in the sprint retrospective meetings, but they are still not acted upon.

Every team faces this challenge; we too had been wrestling with this problem. To control these oversights, we came up with a remedy by using the Sprint Pledge during our retrospective sessions. The team reviews and unanimously responds (yes/no) to each of the Sprint Pledge points. The items mentioned on the Pledge sheet are generic, but it is a way to make sure that the team follows the golden rules of sprint execution and includes them in their daily routine.

To incorporate the Sprint Pledge ceremony, we divided the sprint retrospective session into two parts:
Sprint Pledge
For the first part (10 minutes) the team members go over the Sprint Pledge. For the next 40 minutes, participants perform the retrospective ritual as usual. Following the pledge, every sprint gave us effective results.

Pledge example

The Sprint Pledge has the following column headings:
  • Pledge Points: The golden rules by which the team abides in every sprint.
  • Accomplished: Yes/No/Not Applicable for each release and sprint.
Serial No. Pledge Points Accomplished (Yes/No/NA)
(Release 1.15 Sprint 4)
Accomplished (Yes/No)
(Release 1.16 Sprint 1)
Accomplished (Yes/No)
(Release 1.16 Sprint 2)
1 Try to enter as much information as possible against hours in the daily task tracker.

Here is the checklist of what can be entered:
• Adequate description and explanation of changes
• Mention of people (external/internal) involved with the PBI (Product Backlog Item/User Story) and their views about the PBI
• Guide for others if they want to jump in and try themselves in case of production issues
• Mention of things that the code does not support
Yes Yes Yes
2 You need to have control over sprint commitment so as to keep a good rhythm and high level of team morale.

Suggested way:
• Break large stories (typically 8 points and above) into smaller chunks, then develop, test, and deploy them within same sprint.
Yes Yes Yes
Try to give early builds to QAs.

Some suggested ways are:
  • Commit a build date against each PBI to be developed during the sprint planning session.
  • Stick to the build plan.
  • If you encounter any risk, please report early.
Yes Yes Yes
4 PBIs with external dependencies should not be picked up in the sprint unless the team is absolutely sure of their early resolution. Yes Yes Yes
5 Before the grooming session, the team members need to discuss and understand the upcoming PBIs regarding their technical approach and feasibility.

The team will get the following benefits by doing so:
1. Point more stories
2. Avoid extended discussions in the grooming meeting
3. Save existing work from reestimation
Yes Yes Yes
6 Any work related to prerequisites and dependencies shall be identified and completed first (like setup, groundwork for environment, research, analysis), and then story needs be committed to the sprint. Such prerequisites can be completed in form of spike tasks.  Yes No Yes
7 It would help the team tremendously if they have steps to reproduce the issue when a production issue is raised. The team should pick the item for development only when they have clarity. Yes NA No

I would encourage you to try this with your Scrum teams and see whether it is effective. Please share your results and thoughts.

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.

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