How Much Time Should Teams Spend on Sprint Execution?

This is the seventh and final blog post in the “How Much Time Should Each Scrum Practice and Meeting Take” series. This posting focuses on sprint execution.

In Scrum, a sprint refers to the entire period of time, between one week and a calendar month, when the Scrum team is focused on producing a potentially shippable product increment that meets the Scrum team’s agreed-upon definition of done. Sprints begin with sprint planning and end with the sprint retrospective; they include product backlog grooming activities as well. As such, some portion of each sprint is necessarily allocated to the designated Scrum practices and meetings, but the bulk of the team’s time should be spent executing the work of the sprint—what I refer to as sprint execution.

Sprint execution involves planning, managing, performing, and communicating the work necessary to create working, tested features. Sprint execution takes up the majority of the team’s time: 80 to 85 percent of each sprint.

How long should the sprint execution last?

How much time teams should budget for sprint execution

Sprint execution begins after the Scrum team finishes sprint planning and takes as input the sprint goal and the sprint backlog that we generated during sprint planning. The output from sprint execution is a potentially shippable product increment, which is a set of product backlog items completed to a high degree of confidence—where each item meets the Scrum team’s agreed-upon definition of done. Once the sprint review has begun, sprint execution is over.

To illustrate how much time a Scrum team spends in sprint execution, let’s calculate the time remaining for sprint execution during a two-week-long sprint after we account for all of the other practices.

The team should spend the majority of time each sprint executing the work of the sprint, as shown by the time remaining after product backlog grooming

So, based on this math, we see that sprint execution will take ~80% (64 hours) to ~85% (68 hours) of the total sprint time.

If you want to learn more about sprint execution, please see Chapter 20 in the Essential Scrum book.

The previous post in this series is “How Much Time Should Teams Budget for the Sprint Retrospective?