What Is Sprint Goal and How to Come Up With Good One

Max 5min read

What Is a Sprint Goal?

Those not immersed in the software development world may wonder what a sprint goal is. Well, let us break it down for you in simple terms.

Sprint Goal Definition:

A Sprint goal is a clear set of goals and objectives to be achieved in a particular sprint when the task is implemented. These goals are collaboratively decided by the product owner and the development team right at the beginning of the sprint. Sprint goals should be specific, clear, and measurable to deliver strategic objectives. 

Clear goal setting gives direction for a sprint. – If the work diverts from the sprint goals at any point, it acts as a torch bearer to keep track and return to the original path. A practical sprint goal can also help manage the stakeholders

A sprint goal is the overall objective or focus for a sprint, typically a 2-4 week timeframe in which a development team works to complete a set amount of work. Setting a clear sprint goal is essential as it provides direction and alignment for the team.

Some key things to know about sprint goals:

  • The goals should be focused but be more specific. A good sprint goal may be “Improve user onboarding experience” rather than “Fix bugs.”
  • Sprint goals must be measurable. The team should identify when the goal is complete versus just working indefinitely.
  • They represent a “what,” not a “how.” A sprint goal defines the outcome, not the process to get there. It’s the team’s job to determine tasks and workflow.
  • Goals should motivate the team. Don’t just choose technical items – pick outcomes that will be meaningful to real users.
  • Reevaluate goals during daily standups. As work progresses, priorities may shift. The goal should be to adapt to new information.
  • Communicate goals clearly to stakeholders. Share the sprint focus so others understand objectives and can provide proper support.

Setting a practical sprint goal helps your team stay organized and efficient. It creates a shared understanding of what success looks like. Give some thought to defining that vision – you’ll be glad you did!

Examples of Sprint Goals

Setting a good sprint goal is vital to keeping your team focused during a sprint. But coming up with the right goal can be tricky – what makes for a practical sprint goal? Lets shed light on that through examples.

Here are some examples We’ve seen work well:

  • Design a new homepage layout: This goal targets reworking a core piece of the user experience to be more intuitive.
  • Improve checkout speed by 20%: A specific, measurable metric makes progress easily trackable.
  • Roll out authentication for our API: Launching a new feature by the sprint’s end achieves a concrete objective.
  • Optimize loading times below 1.5 seconds: Setting user experience benchmarks as goals drives performance gains
  • Allow multi-step form entries to be saved: Solving an important user pain point increases satisfaction.
  • Pilot a mobile app prototype: Exploring new platforms expands your offering.
  • Add reporting for three key metrics: Equips stakeholders with insights for better decisions.
  • Deploy a job posting module: Integrating a new capability expands your service.
  • Resolve the top 5 bug reports: Addressing specific issues improves quality.
  • Gather feedback on a redesign concept: Gaining early input helps validate direction.

The best sprint goals have clarity of purpose and determine success unambiguously. They address user, business, or technical needs. We’ve also seen visualizing the end goal help galvanize teams.

How To Come Up With a Good Sprint Goal (Actionable Steps)

creating effective sprint goals

Developing the perfect sprint goal can be challenging – where do you start? Keep reading, as below are a few actionable steps that can help you.

Here are some practical steps to help you formulate a goal that will rally your team:

  • Brainstorm potential goals with your team. Bounce ideas off each other and write down all suggestions, no matter how small.
  • Review your product or company roadmap. Your goals should help progress critical long-term objectives.
  • Prioritize top issues from the backlog. Draw from bug fixes, features, and technical tasks already identified as priorities.
  • Consider customer and user research. What do your users need most? Interviews and analytics reveal goal-worthy pain points.
  • Involve stakeholders. Chat with other departments about their priorities, too. Collaboration yields well-rounded goals.
  • Filter ideas by impact and effort. Circle goals that will be most meaningful but also reasonably achievable this sprint.
  • Draft your goal as a statement. Keep it focused on the “what,” not “how.” Share with your team for input.
  • Set expectations around progress. Define how you’ll track success so it’s measurable by the end.
  • Re-evaluate if needed mid-sprint. Daily standups help refine goals if priorities shift. Be bold and update your goal.
  • Communicate the goal externally. Inform stakeholders and partners so they understand your objectives.

You can nail your sprint goal from the start with proper preparation. Just be sure goals are ambitious yet realistic – you’ll keep everyone engaged and motivated!

Characteristics of Great Sprint Goals

Characteristics of Great Sprint Goals

We’ve all been there – two weeks into the sprint, you realize your goal wasn’t quite right. So, what separates a practical sprint goal from one that falls flat? 

Let’s dabble on to that now,

Here are some attributes We’ve noticed with goals that motivate teams to shine:

  • Specific yet flexible. Clearly defines the what without dictating the how. Allows room for scope changes along the way.
  • Measurable. Has criteria for checking progress so you know when it’s complete, not just working on it forever.
  • Challenging but realistic. Pushes the team to be attainable in the timeframe.
  • Adds value. Solves an actual problem or satisfies a real need for users/customers. Not just checking boxes.
  • Inspiring. Appeals to the team’s interests to generate enthusiasm around tackling it.
  • Timeboxed. It can be achieved within a one- or two-week sprint without crunch.
  • Aligned. Jives with overall company strategy and priorities from roadmaps/backlogs.
  • Communicated. It is not just set internally – it is shared with stakeholders for visibility and support.
  • Evolving. We will revisit and adjust if the initial understanding was off or dependencies shifted.
  • Celebrated. Gives the team a definite sense of accomplishment at completion to feel good.

The best goals are ambitious yet feasible. They energize teams and produce satisfaction upon delivery. Getting that delicate balance right ensures the sprint flies by!


When should a sprint goal be created?

Ideally, your team will create the sprint goal at the start of the sprint planning process. This is usually your first meeting to kick off a new 2-4 week iteration. Defining the overall objective upfront gives direction to your task and workflow planning sessions. You can also use the goal to guide what gets prioritized into the sprint backlog. Occasionally, adjustments may be needed during daily standups if dependencies shift – but crystalizing that initial goal at the planning stage is critical for aligning everyone on the same page from day one of the sprint.

Can the sprint goal change?

Absolutely, a sprint goal can change during the sprint under the right circumstances. No plan survives contact with reality, as they say. When your team is in the thick of development, things may shift compared to what you expected at the start. By having daily standups, you can jointly decide if updating the goal would be better. A dependency may have fallen, or a roadblock emerged – being flexible means you can refocus efforts elsewhere. Just be sure to communicate any changes. Overall, the goal should still align with higher objectives, but tweaking it can get the sprint back on track.

Who creates sprint goals?

The product owner typically leads in defining sprint goals. After all, they’re responsible for maximizing the value the team delivers each iteration. But it’s always a collaborative process that involves the whole scrum team. We’ll work with the developers, tester, and other roles at our sprint planning meeting to discuss what matters most for the upcoming weeks. We’ll brainstorm ideas and then refine them down to one focus. From there, we can build out our tasks and make sure everyone understands our collective target. It’s a group effort to set ourselves up for success each sprint.

What is responsible for setting the sprint goal?

The team is responsible for setting the sprint goal, but the Product Owner typically leads the discussion. The responsibility of setting a sprint goal lies in the hands of the scrum master. At our sprint planning meeting, we’ll huddle up and brainstorm possibilities based on the most important for customers and the overall product roadmap. The PO will gather our ideas and priorities to propose an initial goal statement. Then, it’s open discussion as we refine it. We want something that motivates everybody while being realistic in scope. Once we land on one, the whole team is fully accountable for delivering it. It takes all of us rowing in sync to cross that goal line!

Why is a sprint goal important?

Sprint goal gives a clear direction to a sprint; whenever the work diverts from this path, it helps to bring it back on the original track. It helps to set priorities and enhance team building. Stakeholder management is also a result of the sprint goal.

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