Scrum doesn’t inherently prescribe any set day to start a sprint. This begs the question if the topic bears any merit. And if yes, then what might be the best suitable day to start a sprint? We believe this is a topic of some importance, and will try to make my point through the next few paragraphs. Let’s take a two week sprint scenario as an example for the purpose of this exercise.
Teams consider Mondays best to start sprints, being the first day of the week. A point we don’t quite agree with. Let us look at this scenario starting backwards. Sprints planned this way end up on a Friday or “fun day”- prone to being lean on account of long weekends or planned holidays. This invariably leads to diluting the ‘sprint end day’ activities through poor participation. A situation far from ideal, given that the last day of a sprint is when the sprint is reviewed, and team achievements are showcased to a wider audience.
Here are a few points why Monday or Tuesday of the week may not be ideal days to start a sprint .
- Monday : people are usually in a weekend hangover mode and could experience Monday blues leading to lower energy levels or less focussed sprint planning. Starting sprint planning may be difficult as many are usually busy finishing the leftovers from Friday thereby sprint planning could be less productive.
- Monday or Tuesday : If a sprint starts on these days it must end on a Thursday or a Friday which again lands us in the same spot as mentioned in the previous paragraph.
After evaluating the reasons why Monday or Tuesday are not ideal it leaves us with Wednesday Thursday. Midweek is always more productive as the team is in the zone of finishing the work . Also Mon and Tues are enough to tie the loose ends and to get started with a new sprint on Wednesday or Thursday.
The reason why Friday is not an ideal option to start a sprint is simply that the upcoming weekend that follows Friday makes it difficult for the team to pick from where they left and getting the right momentum is generally difficult.
To Summarize all the above points, it is best to start a sprint on Wednesday or Thursday and end it on Tuesday or Wednesday.
Additionally, in our experience we have seen some really bad practices wrt to starting and ending a sprint. We have composed a few pointers which must be avoided while sprinting.
5 things to avoid while sprinting
- Dont cancel or stop the sprint midway unless the sprint goal becomes meaningless as the business has changed its direction
- Don’t change the duration of the sprint based on work intake of the team
- Don’t advance the end date to accommodate holidays instead reduce the capacity of the sprint
- Don’t extend the sprint if the work has not been completed
- Don’t shorten the sprint if the work items have been completed earlier than planned
Teams should think on the reasons shared for preferring a Wed/Thur as the start of the sprint.
Do let us know if you think there are other considerations which are important in your environment.
Please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org for any feedback, suggestions or questions