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What to do you do when a sprint is cancelled?

20 Apr

Each minute of our life is a lesson but most of us fail to read it. I thought I would just add my daily lessons & the lessons that I learned by seeing the people around here. So it may be useful for you and as memories for me.

During my stint as a Scrum Master, I have experienced multiple cancelled Sprints. I have always tried to use these as learning opportunities.

Though Cancelling the sprint isn’t a frequent situation. In Scrum framework it’s at the discretion of the Product Owner(PO) to cancel the sprint if PO realize that the sprint goal and plan isn’t adding value to the product. In Scrum, only the Product Owner has the authority to cancel the Sprint, although he or she may do so under influence from the stakeholders, the Development Team, or the Scrum Master.

“Sprint cancellations are often traumatic to the Scrum Team, and are very uncommon.” — The Scrum Guide.

Sprint cancellations, might occur if the company changes direction or if market or technology conditions change. In general, a Sprint should be cancelled if it no longer makes sense given the circumstances. But, due to the short duration of Sprints, cancellation rarely makes sense. When a Sprint is cancelled, product backlog is updated with latest priorities any completed and “Done” Product Backlog items are reviewed. If part of the work is potentially releasable, the Product Owner typically accepts it. All incomplete Product Backlog Items are re-estimated and put back on the Product Backlog. The work done on them depreciates quickly and must be frequently re-estimated.

A Sprint may be cancelled in the event that an organisation has to adapt to an abrupt situation. In a way it enhances agility. It generally occurs when there is something more valuable or urgent that requires the team’s commitment and focus. A Sprint doesn’t get cancelled if the Scrum Team discovers it cannot meet it. Calling for cancellations often, reveals however that focus and commitment is lacking. Perhaps even the Sprint timebox is too long for the team to timely adapt to the changing conditions in the market. It could even reveal a lack of vision, or that the Product Owner’s vision for a Sprint isn’t respected by his or hers management.

Valid Reasons the PO Might Cancel A Sprint:

  1. A better technical solution is found that makes the current Sprint’s activity throw-away work.
  2. A major technology change occurs.
  3. Fundamental and urgent external changes invalidate the Sprint Goal or the Product Goal
  4. Company’s vision is changed
  5. Product strategy is changed
  6. Company’s business strategy is changed
  7. Market conditions are changed
  8. Customer needs are changed
  9. Product owner realize the value of the identified goal is obsolete
  10. Another poor reason to cancel a Sprint is when a Sprint Goal is already achieved early and there is still time remaining.

When Product Owner cancel Sprint, all the work done until that moment is evaluated and remaining work items are pushed to product backlog for further analysis. The time, efforts and at times work done might be considered waste and Product Owner takes the accountability of any such business impacts. 

When a sprint is cancelled, It is biggest challenge for Scrum Master to handle to situation. When a sprint is cancelled team morale is likely to drop off significantly. Team members are likely to have a negative reaction to the PO and the product. Its where Scrum Master communication skills comes to play.

Most teams are unlikely to be able to start a new sprint immediately. Instead opting to maintain a sprint heartbeat consistent with what they are used to.

If you came across similar situations , please share your experience in the comments section.

Please feel free to share your story and any lessons you learned, experienced, you came across in your life in the comments below. If you enjoyed this or any other posts, I’d be honored if you’d share them with your family, friends, and followers!

If you wish to follow my journey outside of my writing, you can find me on LinkedIn and Facebook

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2022 in Technical, Work Place

 

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