Starting with Purpose: The Importance of Sprint 0 in Project Development
I’ve seen projects struggle with success throughout my career, and I’ve concluded that it’s usually due to a lack of preparation at the beginning. In the hurry to get things started, we can overlook the fact that for every project to achieve its goals, certain groundwork should take place at the forefront. At Capmation, we call this phase of work Sprint 0, and we consider it the most important sprint in the project.
Sprint 0 involves the planning, preparation, and setup before the actual work on the project begins. Of course, before we get to Sprint 0, we’ve already completed a lot of foundational work.
Before Sprint 0 begins
We invest time and resources before Sprint 0 begins to uncover better ways for our clients to do business. We do this by asking bigger questions and conducting multiple white board sessions. From there we create important tools that set the project up for success. These can include:
The project vision is a high-level document that outlines the project’s objectives, scope and stakeholders. It’s usually created by the project sponsor or a business analyst and serves as the foundation for the project.
A business case is a document that justifies the need for the project and outlines its expected benefits, costs and risks. It’s created by the project sponsor or a business analyst and is used to secure funding for the project.
A stakeholder analysis is an assessment of the project’s stakeholders, including their interests, influence and level of involvement in the project. This analysis helps to identify potential risks and opportunities associated with each stakeholder.
A feasibility study is an assessment of the project’s technical, financial and operational feasibility. This study helps to determine whether the project is viable and worth pursuing.
Resource planning involves identifying the people, equipment and other resources needed for the project. This includes determining the roles and responsibilities of team members and identifying any external resources that may be required.
Project sponsorship involves securing a sponsor who will provide oversight and support for the project. This person is typically a senior executive who has the authority to make decisions and allocate resources for the project.
What occurs during Sprint 0 and why is it important?
After the foundational work is complete, it’s time for Sprint 0. This phase is especially important if you intend to apply any agile method. Sprint 0 allows us time to familiarize ourselves with our client’s technology, establish the team’s communication style and cadence, and proactively uncover and address issues that could add time and rework down the road. Here’s a list of activities that take place and why they position the project for success:
- Defining project goals and scope
The project team comes together to define the project’s goals and scope. This includes identifying the project’s objectives, stakeholders and the desired outcome. By doing this, the team can ensure that everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goals.
- Gathering requirements and prioritizing features
Knowing what needs to be done and in what order is critical to the success of the project. By gathering requirements and prioritizing features, the team can ensure that they are working on the most important aspects of the project first.
- Planning the project timeline and budget
Timeline and budget planning includes identifying milestones and deadlines, as well as estimating the time and resources needed for each task. By doing this, the team can ensure that the project stays on track and within budget.
- Setting up the development environment
Setting up the development environment includes configuring the software and tools that will be used throughout the project. This ensures that the team has the necessary resources to complete the work.
- Building team cohesion
Lastly, Sprint 0 provides an opportunity for the team to build cohesion and establish working relationships. This is particularly important for distributed teams or those that include members who have never worked together before. By doing team-building activities and establishing communication protocols, the team can establish trust and rapport, which is critical to the success of the project.
After Sprint 0 is complete, the project can officially begin. Having all of the preliminary work in place enables the team to hit the ground running.
Sprint 0 positions the project and the client for success by properly preparing the team and environment and by identifying risks and issues that may cause issues down the road. By defining clear project goals and requirements, prioritizing features, setting realistic timelines and budgets, preparing the development environment, and creating stronger communication and collaboration, the project is more likely run smoothly and provide the client with a better product and a better IT experience.