Iteration Zero and Scrum (Sprint Zero)

Sprint Zero is a dedicated time given to a project team to prepare itself for the actual development of the product. Peter Schuh in his book “Integrating Agile in the Real World” says it this way:

“An iteration zero does not deliver any functionality to the customer. Instead the project team focuses on the the simple processes that will be required for the adoption and use of most agile practices.”

I see several goals to a Sprint Zero, and this list not exhaustive:

1. Set the development environments for the entire team
This post is a great example of what can be achieved to prepare development environments. This will basically reflect the process you decided to follow within the team or organization.

2. Analyze the current Product Backlog and clarify obscure stories
At this stage the Product Backlog should contain the initial set of stories prioritized by the Product Owner. The development team can already go through every story and prepare questions. Having the big picture will also allow the team to make better architectural decisions.

3. Get familiar with the code or current system architecture
In an organization with a large number of developers and an even larger number of intranet tools, it might often be the case that developers have never worked on a particular tool. In order to flatten the learning curve a little, the Sprint Zero is be the perfect opportunity to analyze the code and DB structure.

4. Start the team dynamics before development starts
It’s the perfect opportunity for everyone to get to know each other and also repeat the Scrum processes (define Scrum times, “done” criteria etc.)

I put this into practice about 1 month ago and had an amazing feedback from the team. The application was a CRM tool which we now need to support. As it was previously developed and maintained by another business unit, none of the developers had any knowledge whatsoever about the tool – no real documentation was either available.

The next 3 Sprints we have worked on since then have always delivered 100% of the points taken during the Sprint Planning.

Note that this could also be used for external companies contracted for a specific job in order to learn the in-house code conventions, internally developed frameworks and so on.

Interesting links:

some posts that may be related

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