Why Have Sprint Zero?
2 September 2016
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I realize that the concept of a Sprint Zero is a controversial one. And in my initial days of Agile, I was surprised by the importance given to it where I worked. I thought that we would have knowledge-transfer sessions while we did the work, so why did we need to have a separate sprint? But later I realized the importance of Sprint Zero at the organization in which I work. I will not claim that all teams need it, but here is why it is useful for us.
Sprint Zero action items apply to the entire release. We can call it the Initial Sprint, Iteration Zero, or Inception Sprint. In my experience, Sprint Zero is a timebox of one week only.
The team reviews the overall release items and what work must be completed in each sprint. While reviewing each sprint item, the team identifies the areas for which they do not know the requirements, whether they are hardware, architecture, software, or technical.
After the team has glanced at the prioritized epics/features from the product backlog, it has to note the epics and prepare to take the grooming sessions from the product owner. The team must understand the environment and code required for the product backlog features, regardless of whether the code is simple or complex.
The reason for introducing Sprint Zero is that you don't want to unnecessarily extend time to understand the grooming sessions or conduct knowledge-transfer sessions from Sprint 1 onward. So we take one week to prepare the team before starting the sprint backlogs.
Thanks to Agile, we are given the opportunity to learn in a short time. The team will groom in a calm way, with no undue pressure.
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