Sprint Zero – Fasten your seatbelt

The german version of this post can be found here.
If you start a new project with a customer you often need to organize the project environment by yourself. At least you have to make sure it fits your needs. Especially in Scrum projects you don’t want to waste time dealing with organizational stuff but start implementing nice features starting with the first sprint. Nevertheless I’m often surprised how badly prepared some teams get sent on the road and into their first sprint. It’s so easy to give your team a good start – just have a Sprint Zero before your first sprint and get all the organizational stuff from your plate. You avoid the usual problems like having no access to development servers, a developer who wants another screen, chairs that hurt your back and so on. Of course there’s no general Sprint Zero for all companies and projects, but perhaps the following example from my daily work provides an insight into what can be achieved.

Example

A Scrumteam was supposed to start developing a new system in two weeks. The Product Owner and the Scrum Master were already assigned and the development team should consist of eight persons, one half of internal colleagues, the other half of externals. The externals were supposed to join the team two days before the start of Sprint 1 to attend the initial estimation meeting. To ensure we would be able to start developing on the first day of Sprint 1 the colleagues already on site met two weeks before Sprint 1 and planned a Sprint Zero. We thought about which preconditions had to be met to be able to have a good start. A lot of things came up, which we took care of during the following two weeks. Below you find a checklist.

Workplace

  • teamspace available
  • chairs avaibale
  • desks available
  • computer available (connected to the network)
  • switches
  • networking cable
  • power outlets
  • screens
  • mice
  • keyboards
  • light

Dev Environment

  • server available and configured
  • root-access on dev machines
  • licenses available
  • access do development servers and databases
  • client software licensed and installed
  • Wiki-space configured and accessible
  • tracking tool configured and accessible

Teamspace

  • enough keys for the teamspace
  • coffeemaker
  • planning boards, needles, cards
  • post-its
  • flipchart, pens

Access

  • ID’s to enter the building
  • NDA’s prepared for signing
  • access to all needed systems at least prepared in a way that it just has to be activated after signing the necessary papers

We organized all of these tasks on a simple taskboard on the wall (open, work in progress, done), met once a day for a daily standup in front of the taskboard and cleared task after task. Actually we covered everything necessary to start on day one. We received a great deal of praise from our external colleagues: They never joined a customer team which was as well prepared as we were. Usually they had to spend days or weeks to take care of organizational stuff. Do you have equivalent experience with a Sprint Zero? Perhaps you covered other areas we didn’t need here? I’m eager to get your feedback.

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