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Quick Guide To Define An Ideal Sprint Length

Quick Guide To Define An Ideal Sprint Length

Sprints are the soul of Scrum methodology within agile project management. The whole concept revolves around the fact that risks are minimized, requirements are filtered and clarified, product roadmap shaped and business-driving outcomes are delivered at the end of each sprint.

In other terms, a product increment helps perform specific and desired business functions.

However, Scrum Masters, Product Owners, Stakeholders, and Scrum Teams always have a challenge in defining the ideal sprint length.

Scrum guidelines state that Sprint lengths shouldn’t exceed 4 weeks and it is ideal to have 2-week sprints.

Now, to understand why exactly sprints should be within 2-4 weeks maximum, let us look at the basic approach behind the scrum project management approach.

Understanding Agile Scrum

Understanding Agile Scrum with Orangescrum

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Development teams globally have been practicing incremental product releases for over a decade now and more vigorously in the last few years.

The reason is, it offers a holistic view of the product roadmap and the journey ahead.

From a strategic and business standpoint – stakeholders have frequent and inexpensive opportunities to improvise the product before committing significant resources (time, budget, and teams).

So, considering you ran a 2-week sprint and the outcomes weren’t as expected or don’t prove to be business worthy, your cost exposure is of just those 2 weeks.

But, any such decision can only be taken at a very later stage in the waterfall model which makes adaptability a huge challenge, and course correction is too time and cost-intensive.

On the other hand, agile scrum project management is all about adaptability.

I would go as far as to state that agile offers adaptability at all levels of the organization.

  • Stakeholder
  • Business strategy
  • Product roadmap or vision
  • Development team (read execution)

In plain terms, whether it is about initiating, planning, executing, or monitoring. You have ample scope for improvisation and course correction just at the right time with minimum risks and cost exposure.

And primarily the reason why agile project management is the default preferred methodology of the marketing, product, engineering, and development teams.

What is Sprint and Sprint Length?

Scrum deploys some of the most mature time-tested guidelines. And one of them is time-boxing your development cycle.

Enters, Sprint!

As it suggests Sprint is about getting things done swiftly within a short period of time.

The whole concept of the sprint is to identify User stories that the scrum team would work on and complete within a specific sprint duration. Typically known as the sprint length.

We all know that Sprints can be 1, 2, 3, or 4 weeks long at the max. Anything beyond 4 weeks is never agile scrum project management.

Sprint Length is the defined interval within which the team delivers an incremental workable solution that meets the definition of done and therefore acceptable to the customer. In a developer’s words – “ready to ship or release to the customer”.

Why So Much Confusion Around the “right sprint length”?

There has been a lot of furor on adopting the right sprint length. And there are no perfect answers.

As with all things, working with what works best for the project or the scrum team should be accounted for to define the sprint length.

The project complexity, agile maturity of the team, company, and stakeholders as well as customer priorities play a role in defining the sprint length.

Smart and mature scrum teams always go after the 2-week Sprint Length.

It is considered to be the ideal sprint length!

But then, you should identify what works best for the team. 4 or more 4 weeks for one sprint is never advisable.

Remember the main objective behind adopting the agile scrum project management:

  • Minimizing risk
  • Greater stakeholder engagement
  • Clarity around the definition of done or acceptance criteria
  • Reducing efforts and cost exposure
  • Polishing the product roadmap
  • Identifying the root cause of issues promptly that delay or lead to product/project failure

All of the above 6 points have strategic and tactical benefits associated and confirm why you should have 2-3 weeks as your sprint length at all times.

  • 2week cycles create and maintain a sense of urgency within the scrum team.
  • Backlog refinement improves to ensure stories are broken down enough to be covered within 2 weeks.
  • Clarity of the product backlog ensures robust sprint planning thus pre-emptively addressing facts that might cause delay or derail the product itself.
  • Well-engaged between Customer and product owners
  • Customer feedback and reviews are promptly leading to all-around clarity of the product vision.
  • Scrum Teams gain a better understanding of the user stories and customer requirements.
  • If sprint lengths are of 4 weeks then the chances of the teams losing focus or wandering away is higher.
  • Issues may be skirted to not addressed until absolutely required which is the exact opposite of agile scrum.
  • Also if you vary the sprint length with every other sprint, then the team isn’t disciplined or self-organized enough.
  • Random occurrences are ok, but ideally, your Sprint Length must remain the same.
  • Sprint review and retrospectives are far more meaningful when you have 2-week sprints.
  • Shorter sprints help to prevent the scope creep
  • The Scrum team’s performance becomes consistent with a predictable sprint velocity which sets the tone for the project end date.
  • Only improved certainty project’s completion on time and with quality

Concluding Words

Defining the sprint length is entirely the team’s prerogative. But 2 important scrum project management guidelines must be followed

  • Never change an active sprint
  • Follow a fixed sprint length

Why are these guidelines crucial to having a mature agile project management practice?

  1. Have a highly self-organized team.
  2. Reduced Uncertainties.


We do not live in a perfect world. Product features will be considered a tech debt tomorrow.

Plus there is the universal scenario of requirements not being clear.

And lastly, competition and business priorities must be taken into consideration too.

It may seem like agile is kind of rationing your project execution. Practically, it ensures greater control of the project at multi-levels. Customers, scrum masters, and scrum teams they all know

  • What should be done
  • Why and how
  • When

Thus, you minimize friction and collaborate seamlessly toward a common goal.

Adaptability becomes easier across the board leading to faster agile maturity of your organization!

How agile are your teams today? Start today, with Orangescrum an all-in-one agile project management tool that allows you to

  • Plan your agile projects
  • Create, manage and prioritize your backlog
  • Run parallel sprints
  • Measure team velocity
  • Monitor sprint progress with burndown and sprint reports

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