Effective Ways To Plan Agile Development Iterations

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Planning effective development agile iteration is key to successful agile development. The purpose of iteration planning is for the development team to complete the set of prioritized product backlog items, which were previously defined by the Product Owner. This commitment is time boxed based on the length of the iteration and development team velocity.

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The goal of the iteration planning meeting is for the team to commit to the completion of a list of items that has the highest ranking amongst the backlog items.

The iteration backlog is determined by this commitment and is based on the velocity or capacity of the team and the duration of the iteration time box.

Timeboxing relates to the act of imposing strict time limits on an operation or action. You may want to timebox a meeting to be 30 minutes long, for example, to help ensure that the meeting begins and finishes on time without exceptions.

Prerequisites For Planning Effective Iterations

There are some prerequisites for making efficient iteration planning. Below are a set of relevant factors that must be defined prior to planning to be effective:

  • The Backlog Items should have sufficient details for a good understanding of the requirements, otherwise it can put the iteration planning at risk.
  • Backlog items were previously sized and analyzed by development team. It is very important that the team is confident about the previously analyzed backlog items.
  • Prioritization of backlog items has been given by the product owner.
  • Besides that, it is very important to clearly define the acceptance criteria for each backlog item.

What Can Influence The Development Iteration Planning

Beyond the prerequisites listed above, you must take into account some important variables that can influence the success of planning and consequently the success of the entire iteration. So, pay special attention to the below variables when planning the iteration.

  • Complexity of backlog items to be developed: the complexity of backlog items selected to compose the development iteration is one of the most important thing to analyze in a development agile iteration. The backlog items should be decomposed into small parts (usually at the granularity of a work day or less) to possible provide the best accuracy of estimation and planning. Based on the estimation, the development team can select the backlog items that will be developed in the iteration. Each team has a fixed length of the iterations. If you are using Scrum framework, the iteration (also called sprint) is usually between 1 to a maximum of 4 weeks.
  • The Development Team Capacity: this variable is related to the availability of resources you have to compose the development team. Don’t forget to plan for the holidays and vacations for each member of the team. Usually, we can make a plan based on the percentage of working hours, for example, in a day of 8 working hours, we can plan 90% of the time for development tasks and 10% for planning and meeting tasks. There are tools that can be used to help with making the Team Capacity Plan. If you are using Microsoft Team Services, for example, the team capacity can be specified for each developer.

In addition, together with the Product Owner, selecting the items and setting a goal, the Development Team also create a plan of how the selected one will be developed. This plan is usually expressed by tasks to be performed during iteration.

What is an agile owner of a product?

The Product Owner (PO) is responsible for defining Stories and prioritizing the Team Backlog to streamline the execution of program priorities while maintaining the conceptual and technical integrity of the Features or components for the team.

At the most basic level, the leader responsible for maximizing the value of the products produced by a scrum production team is an agile product owner or scrum product owner.

Agile product owners are an integral part of any scrum team and take on several roles. Some of which include business strategist, project manager, product designer, customer liaison, and market analyst.


The primary goal of an Agile Product Owner is to represent the customer to the development team. Product Owner Responsibilities include:

  • Managing and making visible the product backlog or the prioritized list of requirements for future product development.
  • Evaluating product progress at each iteration. Makes the judgment call on the performance, deciding if the team needs to go back to the drawing board or if they can move on to the next steps.
  • Changing the order of items in the product backlog.
  • Being available to the development team to answer any questions team members have regarding the customer’s needs and the customer’s views of how the team is implementing a product feature.
  • The Product Owner Role is an essential member of any agile scrum team.
  • Anticipating the client’s needs to more effectively manage the development process.
  • Acting as primary liaison and link between stakeholders and teams. Make sure there’s buy-in from stakeholders on all major decisions and strategies and clear instructions and deliverables for the developers.

What is Agile Retrospective?

A retrospective occurs whenever your team considers the past to enhance the future. You can get retro on almost anything with the help of technical and non-technical personnel! We’re doing a public retrospective on agile software development right now. By contributing some of your thoughts to our board, you can help determine the future of agile.

An Agile retrospective is a meeting that’s held at the end of an iteration. During the meeting, the team reflects on what happened in the iteration and identifies actions for improvement going forward.

“The Agile retrospective is the opportunity for an Agile team to analyze itself and establish a plan for improvement to be enacted during the following Sprint,” according to the official description from the Scrum Guide. It brings together all active team members, including the Scrum master and product owner. And, if necessary, colleagues from other departments who contributed to the current sprint.

Agile Retrospective: the Ideal Format

The Ideal Format for an Agile Retrospective Retrospectives usually takes 1/2 to 1 hour. These three topics should always be included:

  1. Celebrate achievements such as a new client, a feature release, a historical action discovered at the last retrospective that resulted in the desired outcomes, etc.
  2. Take time to discuss and examine the concerns and irritants, from the simplest (the coffee is terrible) to the largest (additional funds are needed).
  3. Determine what activities should be taken to address these problems and irritants.

The retrospective occurs after the Sprint Review and before the next Sprint Planning.


To conclude, like any other activity involving project planning, regardless of the methodology used, it is important to learn to evolve with our own mistakes and successes. Don’t forget to use the Retrospective Meeting to take note of these items and work on the next iterations.

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