Agile Scrum, Part 6, Sprint Length


In the previous article, we discuss the Sprint and how to perform it on a day to day basis.

This this article, we’ll talk about Sprint length. Should it be one week or two weeks?

With short sprints, 1 or 2 weeks, teams are able to adapt to change easily, in the transitions between sprints. We keep the sprint sacred; we’re inflexible during Sprint time, and then very flexible in each transition. The shorter the Sprint, the more adaptable to change. Longer sprints means less time doing ceremonies, so theoretically can get more work done, but then less adaptable to change.

Since adaptability to change is a key tenant of Agile, we favor shorter sprints.

Longer sprints also means longer grooming, planning, demo and retrospective ceremonies. Long planning sessions can be a real drag on the team.

Many teams need longer sprints at first to get used to the Scrum process. In my experience, two week sprints start out slow and then ramp up in intensity at the end to race to the finish line. When a team switches to one week sprints, the intensity level is high the whole time. This results in a velocity of about 75% of the two week sprints, in half the time.

Recommendation: if you’re new to Scrum, start with two week sprints, then, after four to six sprints, switch to one week sprints. Give it 4 sprints in one week style and then ask, is one week better? I’ve seen this work multiple times. I’ve seen a team try it too soon and go back to two week sprints, then later come back to one week sprints with success.

In the next article, we’ll cover holding Demo, where the teams shows off its accomplishments in the last Sprint.