What Is a Sprint Plan?

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Explore what a sprint plan is in Agile project management, why it matters, and information about careers that use it.

[Featured Image] A project manager and their team member are reading over a document and discussing the process of a sprint plan for their latest project.

In project management, a sprint plan is a document that details a set of activities that a development team will accomplish during a specific span of time known as a "sprint." A sprint plan is part of the Scrum framework, a popular Agile methodology for managing and executing projects. Sprint plans are often used in technology environments, particularly for software development.

What is sprint planning?

Sprint planning is a process that breaks big projects into smaller parts common to the Scrum framework. The sprint takes place for a short duration, such as two-week sprints, and encourages a team to focus on specific objectives to drive adaptation. The main goal is to deliver incremental results frequently. Team members will identify a list of tasks that need to be done, prioritize them, and work together to accomplish the objectives by the end of the sprint.

By taking a sprint approach, a development team can produce high-quality software more quickly.

Team capacity is an important concept in sprint planning. It refers to the amount of work a team can realistically accomplish during a sprint. What is each team member's availability in terms of working hours? How many members make up the team? During a sprint planning session, take team capacity into account to plan your upcoming sprint effectively.


Read more: What Is Product Management: Definition, Types, And Responsibilities

Benefits of sprint planning 

A sprint plan can help a Scrum team get things done on time and on budget. Facing a six-month-long project, for example, can be daunting; following a sprint plan makes the project more manageable. 

Other advantages include:

  • Motivating teams to be productive, by assigning tasks that are doable in the time allotted for the sprint

  • Fostering a sense of accomplishment as team members achieve goals more regularly

  • Offering transparency into what everyone is doing to help balance the workload

  • Encouraging greater employee engagement through collaboration, which can support an organization's retention efforts 

Phases of sprint planning 

To better understand sprint planning, learn about the different stages of a sprint cycle. Typically a sprint has four phases:

1. Planning involves the team collaboratively deciding the sprint’s goal.

2. Checking in often during the current sprint happens daily in short, stand-up Scrum meetings, in which participants share what they’ve accomplished and what they’ll be working on next. If any challenges arise, team members can share them.

3. Reviewing is done at the end of the sprint. Again, everyone is involved as they share what was completed, what wasn’t, and what obstacles need to be addressed. Actual output could be demonstrated at this stage.

4. Retrospective is completed before the next sprint planning session. The team meets to collaboratively discuss what should be continued or changed to make the next sprint more successful.

How to create a sprint plan: Quick checklist 

Every sprint begins with sprint planning. With this quick checklist, you can keep sprint planning focused and productive.

Gather data. 

The sprint plan starts with the team gathering data, including:

  • Product backlog: list of what a product needs, in terms of functionality, to be improved or completed

  • Historical data: information about what was completed in the previous sprint

  • Sprint goal: the objective or value the team hopes to deliver during the sprint

  • Risk assessment: a list of risks that may have an impact on the sprint and assessment of the potential consequences

Select backlog items for the sprint.

To determine which backlog items will be included in the current spring, consider these factors:

  • The sprint goal

  • The items that are ready and can contribute to the goal

  • The duration of the sprint?

  • Team members who are available to be on the sprint team

Assess team capacity and skills.

After considering who is going to be available (considering vacations, holidays, and other conflicting activities), you’ll want to assess the skills and capacity at your disposal. These will affect how the work gets delivered. Do you have a balance of skills? What skill gaps do you notice? Which team members are best equipped to complete different tasks?

Establish when a task is completed. 

Once the team divides the work into functional increments known as user stories, you’ll need to define what completes each story. A user story is complete when certain criteria are met. Having these criteria well-defined helps team members know how to fulfill their tasks effectively.

Create an interactive process to earn investment.

Encouraging collaboration is part of a good sprint plan. Give product owners the opportunity to share the vision since they’re typically the project’s key stakeholders. Collect stakeholder feedback often. Offer the team the chance to estimate how long something will take, and choose how much work gets done in that sprint.

Team roles

Effective sprints will involve everyone on the project team. This helps keep the goals achievable and improves process transparency. At the same time, everyone will have different roles to prepare for the different stages of sprint planning.

Project Manager/Scrum Master

Average annual base salary (US): $134,972 [1]

The Scrum Master or project manager is responsible for reviewing the team’s capacity against the project timeline. A successful sprint has a leader who ensures the project is moving forward and is tracking the overall deliverables and expectations. They will also estimate the necessary amount of time and budget to complete each item on the sprint plan.

This role will track the sprint cycle by setting agendas for group meetings, removing distractions, and providing needed supplies. They’ll also facilitate collaborative discussion and invite questions and answers before people return to their tasks.

Product owner

Average annual base salary (US): $125,816 [2]

The product owner is usually the project’s key stakeholder. They have a holistic view of the product’s users, a vision of the marketplace, competitors, and relevant trends. Their point of view can help give shape to the team’s goals and inspire productivity.

A product owner’s job is to:

  • Define the project vision and goals

  • Prioritize the list of what needs to be done 

  • Oversee the product development from start to finish

  • Communicate with other stakeholders and teams

  • Know what the client needs

  • Evaluate progress

Team member

As a team member, you can prepare for sprint planning, check-ins, reviews, and retrospectives by going over your own tasks or sprint assignments. Be ready to discuss what you’ve been working on as well as any hurdles. 

The success of a sprint depends on everyone collaborating. Contribute concisely to the meetings. It’s always a good idea to ask for help along the way too.

How to build your expertise in sprint planning

Effective sprint planning takes a good understanding of Scrum and Agile methods. You can expand your understanding of what happens in a sprint, product backlog items, user stories, and the process of iteration planning in various ways.

Read more: Agile vs. Scrum: How to Choose the Best Method

Bachelor’s degree program 

Agile project managers and Scrum Masters usually have a bachelor’s in business, computer science, or electrical engineering. According to Zippia, 62 percent of Agile project managers have a bachelors, and 66 percent of Scrum masters have one also [3, 4]. Team members may have computer science, software engineering, computer programming, or information technology degrees.


If you’re interested in being a Scrum product owner, you might get certified by the Scrum Alliance or Scrum.org. Certifications or professional certificates are a great way to learn more about project management methodologies and to enhance your resume. 

  • Project Management Professional (PMP): If you have a few years of relevant professional experience working on projects, further your career with the PMP credential offered by Project Management Institute (PMI). This certification can help you succeed in sprint planning.

Read more: 10 PMI Certifications to Level Up Your Project Management Career 

Gain project management experience with Coursera

Taking online courses can be a great way to gain experience in project management and build job-ready skills. Consider Coursera's offerings, such as The Introduction to Scrum Master Training, which helps beginners learn the foundations of Agile Scrum. Learn Agile project management, including the Scrum framework and sprint planning, from Google’s Agile Project Management course. If you’re just getting started, you may want to start your journey with the Foundations of Project Management.

Article sources


Glassdoor. “How much does a Project Manager/Scrum Master make?, https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/project-manager-scrum-master-salary-SRCH_KO0,28.htm." Accessed September 15, 2023. 

Keep reading

Updated on
Written by:

Editorial Team

Coursera’s editorial team is comprised of highly experienced professional editors, writers, and fact...

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.