What is a sprint goal?

A sprint goal is a shared high-level objective that describes the key outcome for each sprint that a Scrum team undertakes. In the same way that a product vision guides the longer-term direction of a product, the sprint goal provides guidance to the development team on why it is building the increment for the current sprint, why it is worthwhile undertaking the sprint, and what value it will deliver back to the product owner.

A good sprint goal doesn’t simply reiterate the top priority user story for the sprint e.g. “the goal for this sprint is to deliver “US12345 Add Address to the customer record””, a good sprint goal would be at a higher level than that, describing the intention behind undertaking the sprint and should help the team understand the purpose and impact of the work they are doing.

Sprint goals have several benefits; a good goal will facilitate focus and collaboration on the team, help with prioritisation within the sprint and guide feedback from stakeholders e.g. the team could ask at the sprint review whether the stakeholders felt that the goal had been completed as planned, or the sprint goal could determine who attends the review in the first place.

The sprint goal is collaboratively created by the Scrum team during the sprint planning meeting. Its creation is typically guided by the product owner with the development team then deciding which functionality and technology it will implement in order to fulfil the goal.

Other things to consider:

  • Is the sprint goal S.M.A.R.T (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound)?
  • Is the sprint goal visible? If you use a physical task board then add it on a post-it to the top of the board, if you use a tool such as Jira then populate each sprints goal in the tool.
  • Is the sprint goal referred to frequently throughout the sprint? The purpose of the daily scrum is to “inspect progress toward the sprint goal” and all of the typical three questions at the meeting refer to the sprint goal so it should be a constant topic of discussion for the team.

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