Frequent dilemma: what sprint duration is best for your team

sprint durationEveryone might agree with the fact that Scrum is the most popular methodology in Agile development. Many organizations use Scrum due to its simplicity and flexibility. In Scrum, work is confined to a regular, iterative work cycle, known as a sprint. Most of the time one sprint lasts from one week to 4 weeks, but in some exceptional cases sprint might take up to two months. Each scrum team can face such challenge – decide upon sprint length.

First of all, before choosing the length of a sprint, team must weigh the advantages and disadvantages of shorter or longer iteration. No doubts that decision depends on a specific company development environment and team maturity. Some people agree and some argues that if Agile process is a new experience for a team the best idea would be to take short ones. For this reason, team is able to validate and learn faster. Another reason, to use short length iteration is the goals of projects. Sometimes the aims of projects are vague, that’s why chosen length should be shorter. Thus, this could help to tackle the uncertain scenario.

To continue, long term iterations are more realistic if your team has less possibility to meet stakeholders or investors in order to do progress report and capture resulting feedback. Also, projects with considerable ‘architecturally significant’ amounts of functionality as well as software development projects. Otherwise, investors might be concerned about early stages of a project and try to avoid risk choosing shorter sprints. The abundance of reasons seems to be endless. The choice of iteration’s duration may also affect risk education, improvements in service levels, how often progress should be measured, balance intensity and even more factors.

Considering about ideal sprint duration is necessary to find out the goals of a project in the first place. Further steps depend on project specifics. There are teams which prefer short iteration instead of long ones, hence one week. Moreover, we are able to find teams who work efficiently when they have a longer plan ahead – plan effort for 4 weeks and isolate from the surrounding environment for efficient and fast paced work. But eventually, there is no common answer that could suit any scrum team. End with the best advice: plan, measure, react, repeat!

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