One of the hardest item that Product Owner has to define is the Sprint Goal that is a powerful agile practice.
What is the Sprint Goal?
A Sprint goal shows the desired outcome of an iteration that provides a shared goal to the team.
A Sprint goal has to be define before the team starts the Sprint in order to focus to get this goal.
On the ideal situation, every sprint should have one goal. This ensures that everyone is in the same page. When the goal has been chosen, the team have to work to implement it.
First of all, the Product Owner has to define clearly the objective (or goal) of the Sprint. Then the team has to implement it in order to build a “Product Increment” and last but not least the stakeholders have to validate the goal and provide their feedback.
I used to work with a new Product Owner (who used to work as manager) who doesn’t know very well his role and he needs many iterations to understand the benefits of setting an Sprint goal.
According to Roman Pichler there are five benefits to establish a Spring goal:
A shared sprint goal facilitates prioritisation: It makes it easier to determine which stories should be worked on in the next cycle. Here is how I do it: I first select the goal. Then I explore which epics have to contribute to it, and I break out small detailed stories from the epics. Finally, I order the new ready stories based on their contribution to the goal.
Creates Focus and Facilitates Teamwork
Sprint goals create focus, facilitate teamwork, and provide the basis an effective sprint planning session. A shared objective guides the development work, encourages creativity, and enables commitment. Teams don’t commit to individual stories in Scrum; they commit to the sprint goal.
Helps Obtain Relevant Feedback
Employing a sprint goal makes it easier to collect the right feedback. If the goal is to evaluate the user experience, for instance, then it is desirable to collect feedback from actual target users. User representatives should therefore attend the sprint review meeting. But if the goal is to reduce technical risk by evaluating different object-relational mapping tools, then it is probably more appropriate to invite an experienced developer or architect from another team to discuss the solution.
Makes it Easier to Analyse the Feedback
Working with a sprint goal helps analyse the feedback obtained. If the team works on several unrelated stories in the same sprint then it can be tricky to relate the feedback to the right user story. This makes it harder to understand if the right product with the right features is being built.
Supports Stakeholder Communication
Finally, imagine meeting the big boss in the elevator and being asked what you are working on. Chances are that without a sprint goal, the boss will be bored to death, jump onto a specific story, or he will have left the elevator before you are finished listing all the things you do. Using a sprint goal helps you communicate the objective of the sprint to the stakeholders. This allows them to understand what the sprint is about and to decide if they should attend the next sprint review meeting.
Without Sprint Goal team members won’t be focus to reach anything in particular!!!
If you want to discuss this topic reach me at twitter (@metlucero), gmail (metlucero [at] gmail [dot] com) or Skype (metlucero)