Nexus Sprint Planning is the scaled version of the Sprint Planning event from the Scrum Framework.
How does it work?The Nexus Sprint planning event is used to plan, coordinate and align the work to be done by the Scrum Teams in the current Sprint. It is another opportunity to identify and eliminate or reduce dependencies between Product Backlog Items so Scrum Teams can plan and work on them independently.
To begin the event, appropriate representatives from each Scrum Team will validate and make adjustments to the ordering of the Product Backlog Items, building on what has already been completed in Product Backlog Refinement events. The ordering will help reduce dependencies between Scrum Teams in the Nexus during the Sprint.
Product Backlog Items will be then be selected by an appropriate Scrum Team that has the skills required to deliver them with no (or minimal) dependencies on other Scrum Teams. The Scrum Team should have all the cross functional skills required to translate the Product Backlog Item into an integrated Increment by the end of the Sprint.
The Nexus Sprint Goal will be formulated in Nexus Sprint Planning. It will describe the purpose that will be achieved by the Nexus during the Sprint.
Once the teams have selected their Product Backlog Items, they will carry out their own separate Sprint Planning to plan their own work in greater detail. As new dependencies are discovered they will be shared, visualised and minimised via the Product Backlog.
The Nexus Sprint Backlog will be created during Nexus Sprint Planning. This will be a combination of the Sprint Backlogs created by individual Scrum Teams and will additionally highlight cross team dependencies.
Who should attend?Nexus Sprint Planning should be attended by all Scrum Teams and include all team members.
In reality it can be tough to coordinate this large number of people, so each Scrum Teams should nominate a smaller number of appropriate people to represent the team when planning discussions are carried out at the Nexus level.
Once individual Scrum Teams take their Product Backlog Items for Sprint Planning at the team level, all members of each Development team should take part as they would using Scrum.
The Product Owner will provide domain knowledge to clarify Product Backlog Items and will guide priority and selection decisions. This event may place excessive demands on the Product Owners time so may be an instance where they will need to have specialist assistance to represent them at the individual Scrum Teams level.
A Scrum Master will be needed to facilitate this event. With the number of people and teams involved, the facilitation skills of the Scrum Master will be vital to ensure the event is carried out effectively and can be completed within a reasonable time box without confusion and conflict.
What is the time box?The Nexus framework suggests that the duration of Nexus events be guided by the length of the corresponding events in the Scrum framework. So for Nexus Sprint Planning the target for the time box would be 8 hours for a 1 month Sprint.
Inspection and adaption may lead to this being adjusted over time as required. Depending on the number and location of teams in the Nexus and the level of dependencies being handled, the time required may vary significantly between Nexuses.
When and where does it take place?Nexus Sprint Planning should be held at a consistent time and place to ensure attendees have a clear expectation of when and where they need to be in order to take part.
Where possible, Nexus Sprint Planning will be held in a large space that allows all Scrum teams to come together and work in close proximity. This will allow the teams to communicate and share learnings during the event which will make it more effective.
What else do I need to know?Having a Product Backlog refined to “Ready” with dependencies reduced/eliminated and an indication of which Scrum Team will deliver each Product Backlog Item is likely to be an essential prerequisite to allow planning to proceed effectively.
Strong facilitation of Nexus Sprint Planning by a skilled Scrum Master will be vital to making this event constructive and allow its objectives to be met.
Planning at Scale using large numbers of teams and people can be a significant challenge. Scaled Professional Scrum introduces a number of additional practices to help make this effective.
The Scrum Master is Simon Kneafsey. Simon is a Professional Scrum Trainer with Scrum.org, the home of Scrum run by Scrum co-creator, Ken Schwaber. Simon offers Professional Scrum Certification training courses globally and works with clients to introduce Scrum to their organisations.
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