What is Sprint Refinement?

by StarAgile

October 27, 2020
Category Agile and Scrum


Introducing Sprint refinement

A continuous process of updating backlogs in an organized fashion is called sprint refinement. It is called as product backlog refinement. This process is done during every sprint and hence called a sprint refinement as well. 

You can go for the CSPO certification online with StarAgile to learn more. Please read through the article for your knowledge purpose. Does the diagram show what our product backlogs, sprint backlogs, and definition of done are?


What is Sprint refinement meeting and it’s purpose? 

The owner of the scrum team is the product owner. He is responsible for making user stories and in the product backlog and oversees the sprint backlog. The backlog refinement meeting is done at the beginning of the product backlog processes. This meeting which is overseen by the product owner is done to decompose the highest priority items in the product backlog to be included in the sprint backlog. This meeting is facilitated by the scrum master along with the other scrum meetings and overseen by the product owner. It enables the scrum master to see the representation of what is valuable, feasible, and good user experience. You can learn and explore more by doing the product owner certification 

It is called by 2 different names such as backlog grooming sessions and backlog management meetings. The benefits of having the sprint refinement meeting are as follows, it allows the reduction of the long sprint planning meeting at the beginning of the projects. Next, it also enables one to reflect upon the product backlog items before committing to the sprint backlog or the sprint goal. It also enables the team to look further or look ahead in the project.

The items discussed during the sprint refinement meeting are as follows, 

  • EPICS that means they are larger features that must be broken down.
  • User stories
  • Look at bugs and solve it
  • Look at spikes which are like research for the development which does not have a value as such.

The sprint refinement meeting enables the product backlogs to be formed with good user stories. The user stories must be small tasks that have a value and fit comfortably into a sprint.

The bugs and clusters of bugs are broken down into smaller constituent elements.

During the sprint refinement meeting, the team looks at the product backlogs and decides whether further decomposition is required or it can be included in the next sprint.

This process continues until the team finds a good collection of the user stories in the product backlog to be included in the sprint backlog.

The team has to estimate the relative sizes of the user stories to track the velocity of the scrum teams. There are 2 scenarios whether the estimation should take place in the sprint planning meeting or the sprint refinement meeting. If you have a separate meeting that is conducted for this then it takes up the development time. If the estimation is included in the sprint refinement meeting then the team is free in sprint planning and focuses on how the work is to be done. If it is included in the sprint planning then the team can focus on how much work they are taking on so that there is no overburden or under commitment of work. Where ever the estimation is done it is a calculative guess of the relative size of the small task at work.

Benefits of Sprint backlog grooming

The benefits of sprint refinement meeting are as follows,

  • It helps to remove the user stories which are no longer relevant
  • Creating new user stories for the newly developed needs
  • Sequencing and reassessing the relative priority of the user stories
  • If the estimation is done during the sprint refinement meeting it helps to estimate the user stories
  • It helps to correct the estimates in the context of changes in the user stories
  • Breaking down the user stories which are large and cannot be included in the sprint.
  • Ensure that the sprint backlog and the product backlog are populated with the items.
  • Make the items detailed, relevant, and estimated.
  • Help make a sufficient number of user stories for the next iterations.
  • Helps to define value in each of the user stories

Do you see how important is to learn sprint planning and sprint refinement meeting is, so to take advantage of both of them and to explore more do the product owner training with StarAgile institute?

Sprint backlog refinement meeting 

The sprint refinement meeting is done to understand and break down the large epics into smaller sprints. The team takes time out from the sprint execution to prepare the product backlog in the meeting and assemble sufficient sprint for the next execution.

In the meeting the large items are split and classified also estimation is done for the same.

A skilled scrum master can help the team to identify the tasks that have business value and promoting the more thorough definition of "done" which includes the proper testing and refactoring.

The meeting is important to make the epics that are large items converted into value-added small user stories in the product backlog. 

Is there a difference between Scrum sprint refinement and sprint planning? 

Yes, there are differences between the sprint planning and sprint grooming or the sprint refinement meeting.

Let's see what a sprint planning meeting is,

A sprint planning meeting is done to agree on the goals for the next sprint and set the sprint backlogs. It involves making decisions on the sprints by learning and considering suitable options.

Sprint planning consists of 2 components; they are as follows, one prioritizing the next sprints and second agree on the number of sprints based on the capabilities and numbers of the resources.  

  • The first one is the work of the product owner 
  • The second one is the development decision on how much load they can handle successfully

Whereas sprint refinement meeting is to split the big items into smaller ones and keeping the product backlog items readily available for the next sprints. This enables the refinement of staying flexible and for incremental product delivery. It is mandatory for the whole team to participate and discuss the parameters and to contribute during the sprint execution.

Final recommendation - How to understand Sprint refinement agenda

  • As discussed the sprint refinement agenda are simple,
  • To break down the epics into smaller and value-added user stories.
  • To discuss the bugs and how to handle these
  • Make user stories in the product backlogs
  • Make available sufficient user stories for the next sprint backlogs
  • Estimate the relative user stories for the development team to work on.
  • Control spikes which are non-value-added work such as research to promote work
  • To clarify the user stories to the development team

Finally, If you are interested further, we recommend you to take up the certified scrum product owner online training with StarAgile. You can learn more about how to create user stories and do the refinement meetings and planning meetings on scrum to successfully manage the products. StarAgile offers much training on agile and scrum.