Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Sprints at Scale: Working with 10, 100, 1000, or More Sprints in A Scrum Project

A Sprint is a mini-project and usually has a length of 2 weeks, though it can vary from 1 to 4 weeks. While running Sprints for a big project using Scrum framework, one can run 10, 100, 1000, or more Sprints. The number of Sprints goes-up when the Sprint length is shorter – say 1 week. This scenario highly possible.

Do not confuse Sprints at Scale with Agile at Scale, where multiple teams can work on multiple Sprints.

Now, questions can be:

  • How do you manage so many Sprints?
  • If you are using a software tool, how do you manage them?
  • Is it possible to have the current Sprint being shown first in the tool?
    (with all other Sprints)
  • Is it possible to show the work items for the current Sprint first?
    (a view showing all the Sprints)

These questions are very pertinent for any Scrum Master, Product Owner or an Agile Project Manager. In fact, recently I received such questions from Agile practitioners, who have been using my courses.

Let’s see how to manage a large number of Sprints and the answers to the above questions. 

Our Plan with Epics and Features

Our current plan is shown below and at a high-level:

  • There are 5 epics, from Epic 1 to Epic 5.
  • Each epic is broken into 10 features. In total, there are 50 features.
  • These features will be associated with the respective Sprints. 
  • One feature will be completed in one Sprint. For example, feature 50 will be done in Sprint 50. 

This is shown below in the Gantt Chart view of MS Project. 

These you can add in the Gantt Chart view or you can use the Sprint Planning Board or Sprint Planning Sheet views. 

As shown, we have features numbering up-to Feature 50. When you switch to the Sprint Planning Sheet, you will get the following view. 

Plan for the Sprints

To associate with Sprints, we need to create the Sprints first. These can be done using Project tab > Properties group > Manage Sprints command. 

As you can see, we have 50 Sprints planned now. 

Associate with the Sprints

One can use various possible views to associate the feature items with Sprint, but the most used ones (and recommended by my courses) are the Sprint Planning Board and Sprint Planning Sheet views of MS Project Agile software tool.

Using the Sprint Planning Board, for example, I’ve associated a number of features items as shown.

You have to simply drag and drop the items from the No Sprint column to the respective Sprint column. But then we have some constraints here!

  • When it reaches Sprint 5, then the board view on the left does not show the feature items. If you have to associate with Sprint 50, then you have to drag it all the way up-to Sprint 50, which is on the extreme right.
  • If you want to see only the last 3 Sprint items, i.e., Sprint 48, Sprint 49 and Sprint 50, then we also have to use the horizontal scrollbar to the end.

Hence, the better view to use in this case of having a large number of Sprints will be the Sprint Planning Sheet view. This is shown below. 

As shown, you have to just scroll down and associate the Sprint in the popped-up, drop-down or show-up list. Isn’t is very easy this way?

Show the Latest 3 Sprint Items first

Another issue is to show the last 3 Sprint items first. This cannot be done using the Sprint Planning Board view as the filters, groups are disabled in this view.

But you can circumvent it using the Sprint Planning Sheet view and applying the built-in Sprint group.  

Do note the change in order from from Ascending to Descending. That way, the latter Sprints will be shown on top. 

Sprint Grouped View

As you apply the above modified Sprint group, you will have the latter Sprints and the associate work items shown on top. The initial Sprints such as Sprint 1, Sprint 3 or Sprint 5, will be shown towards the bottom.  

Another Way to Show

Some of you may not want to apply to the Sprint group, but just want to see the latter Sprint items on top for quick usage. In that case, you have to change the sorting and sort it by Sprint ID as shown below. 

The Sort command dialog box can be seen by going to View tab > Data group > Sort > Sort By... command. 

Do note the change the order of sorting to Descending. That way, the latter Sprints and associated work items will come on top. 

When you apply this sorting, the Sprint Planning Sheet will come as shown below. 

As shown:

  • The work items for Sprint 50, Sprint 49 and Sprint 48 are shown on top.
  • The work items for Sprint 1, Sprint 2 etc. are towards the bottom.
In this case, we didn't apply any group, but just sorted items with Sprint ID field.


[1] Online Course: Mastering MS Project Agile, by Satya Narayan Dash 

[2] Certification Course: Certified Hybrid-Agile Master Professional (CHAMP), by Satya Narayan Dash 

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