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Tips to Deal with Sprint Interruptions

Updated: May 12, 2022

Although the purpose of Sprint Planning is to define what can be delivered in time (Sprint) and how that work will be achieved, in real life, our work is not linear, work interruptions are unavoidable and as a consequence, many times the Sprint goals are not accomplished.

When the team is constantly falling short of completing the backlog items, it is essential to discuss what needs to be shifted, what are the learning opportunities, and how you can have a stronger focus to accomplish your goals in the next Sprint.

At ezTagile, we believe that when the Sprint plan is done correctly, it creates an environment where the team is motivated, challenged, and can be successful. Unfortunately, bad Sprint plans can derail the team by setting unrealistic expectations. Check the video below to learn how the Sprint planning is done in collaboration with the Scrum team.

To sum up, good Sprint planning focuses on the outcomes, not the work. It also considers five main factors:

  1. The What (Objective or goal)

  2. The How (Value and effort)

  3. The Who (Responsibilities )

  4. The Inputs (Capacity)

  5. The Outputs (Visibility)

How to Deal with Sprint Interruptions

Remember that you can't expect to change years of working habits overnight, but here are some guidelines as you benefit from the stability of Agile. We hope you will be able to implement small changes as you manage your work in progress.

  • It's critical to have well-groomed/refined stories prior to a sprint planning session. Refined stories allow the sprint planning session to flow smoothly.

  • Plan your Sprint with a moderate margin of safety

  • Set clear expectations and remind the team about when and how to add new tasks/stories into the backlog

  • Learn and ask for help as you re-prioritize tasks in your backlog

  • Determine if you will need to re-estimate your stories

  • Be realistic with new stories/tasks

  • Be honest and tell leaders the truth about how new work can impact team morale, capacity, and schedule

  • If new work is inevitable, this new work should be considered as a swap for work that is already in the sprint plan and not an addition.

We love to hear your thoughts! How do you handle interruptions on your Agile team? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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