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Sprint Length In Scrum

by StarAgile

March 01, 2020
Category Agile and Scrum


We are well aware that all of us have the stamina to run 100 meters in one shot. Yes, it is because our focus and energy level will help us reach the goal in a short span of time covering the short distance. Unlike, longer the distance more is the distraction. Why am I talking about running here? Did you land on the wrong page? 

Don’t worry; you are here in the right place to know about the ideal sprint length to complete each iteration successfully. The very word sprint in scrum is referred to as a timed iteration to complete a particular task. 

We will not talk much about what is a sprint, who decides about a sprint and its benefits here. That is covered in our blog and you may refer to it to know about the sprint. In this section, we will educate you about which is the right sprint length in scrum.

Now that we have told about sprint is a short-duration event, you will have your question in mind. We do understand that you want to know how short it must be? One day, one week? 

Can sprint length be only one day? 

Let us evaluate the pros and cons to come to a conclusion if a sprint can last for a single day. If you have some experience in agile projects then you will know that a 2-week sprint is an ideal sprint. But, have you ever thought about why it is correct. Why not 1-week or 3-weeks? You simply don’t know because everyone talks about 2-weeks so you do. We shall come to that later. 

Before that understand the process involved in the sprint. There is planning required, then the consent of all stakeholders and finally starting the race. Do you think it is humanly possible to complete all in one day? According to me, it is a BIG NO. 

It needs time to break down the requirement and obtain a meaningful solution. However, rapidly you do it, it is advisable to not have a sprint length for one-day.  

Short Sprint Vs Long Sprint 

We will now go back to the sprint duration in scrum. There are two things we must know and they are shorter sprint duration and longer duration. First, know what is the exact time duration we call it shorter and longer. Then it will become easy to decide on the length. 

Short sprint 

Short sprint duration in agile ranges between 1 and 2 weeks. Let us explain what one will achieve by planning for a short sprint.

1. Quick feedback and continuous improvement 

The purpose of executing projects in the scrum way is to break down the work into iterations. This will help to reduce costs as identifying mistakes in every stage will prevent further damages in the end goal of the product. Thus when we use a short duration sprint the process of checking feedback becomes quick. When obtaining feedback happens rapidly, then it allows for corrections immediately. This constant improvement made agile methodology popular. 

2. Uninterrupted performance 

When the duration of the sprint is short, then measuring becomes easy allowing the team to work without any delay. This will enhance the performance of each individual and hence the entire team. 

3. Small failures 

Don’t feel negative about the word failure. Every methodology will have both plus and minus. However, small sprint length in scrum will identify failure before it creates a mess in the outcome. Therefore, when compared to allowing the failure to grow, it is good to arrest it at an earlier stage. 

4. Win competition 

Winning competition does not necessarily mean to deliver product successfully at the end and win over other players in the market. But it also means to cross every stage perfectly before your competitor does. Quick sprint will fetch immediate feedback and hence keeping an eye on the competitors becomes easy. 

5. Enhances the learning process 

A new team can learn the process when the sprint is planned for less than a week as they will get to know their progression. They will know whether they are on track, if not they can learn and correct mistakes. 

Long sprint 


Independent projects 

It is good to go for an agile sprint length of 3 or 4 weeks when you have a huge project and split each module as a mini-project. Here you can go for detailed planning and make it for a longer time. Every completion of a sprint will make sure that you finished a particular part of a project. This will be considered a small project itself. 

Effective sprint planning 

The time spent on sprint planning is 24 minutes in general. In the event of a one day sprint, it is not possible to afford to devote close to ½ an hour. On the other hand, a long sprint will allow good time to plan. Proper planning is the foundation for success in any project. The same is applicable to sprint planning as well. 

Retrospective 

Similar to planning, the retrospective also is important in the agile methodology. Therefore it is good to take some time and discuss the downfalls in the retrospective. The detailed talk will enhance the understanding of the team and hence correct product increment. 

Factors that decide sprint length

So far we saw about how a short duration sprint and long duration sprint contribute to the success of a project outcome in their own ways. Now, let us also explain to you about the other factors that help you to choose the right sprint duration. 

With this input, we will finally help you conclude the ideal sprint length. 

  • According to the guideline suggested by the scrum guide, it is not right to extend sprint length beyond 4 weeks. 
  • Never fix the sprint duration based on the product backlog size. It is must be independent as you can also break the items to fit into the shorter sprints. 
  • It is good to have a uniform sprint length for each team as that will help the team to follow a pattern and get used to the rhythm in tuning their mindset to complete work.
  • Experienced coaches and trainers always suggest for 2-week sprint duration. 

Final say 

In general, by practice and experience, every successful sprint has been accomplished when it was for 2-weeks. Therefore, neither too short (one week) nor long (4 weeks) sprint length is suggested. As a thumb rule, you can stick on to a 2-week sprint allowing the correct time for sprint planning and final review as well. 

It is good to split even a 4-week sprint to 2 two week sprints and complete work in stages. Only when the product increment cannot be accomplished in 2-weeks go for a longer duration. 

You can understand this when you gain experience and it is always good to follow your instinct once you become an expert working in scrum projects. 


If you want to learn in depth about the sprint length enroll for the scrum master certification at StarAgile or call us on +91 – 80502 05233


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