An easier way to manage your agile teams and sprint capacity planning

sprint capacity planning

It’s a pretty fundamental question – but one that many people fail to answer.

Will we have enough resource capacity to get this done?

Trying to figure out what work your next few sprints will contain without considering your resource capacity is like jumping out of a plane only to realize you don’t have a parachute.

And that only ends one way – badly. That is why you need sprint capacity planning.

Table of contents

What is sprint capacity planning?

Sprint capacity planning is a technique used to work out how much work an agile team can take on in a sprint. There are two alternative approaches capacity based sprint planning and velocity based sprint planning.

Without getting into the woods too deeply, here is a summary of the approaches:

In velocity-driven sprint planning, the team selects backlog items (normally estimated in points) and considers the sprint full when the points equal their average velocity.

In capacity-driven sprint planning, the team selects backlog items, roughly estimates them in days or hours and stops when they think the sprint is full. The capacity of the sprint is based on the number of team members and how many days they work.

Sprint capacity planning vs velocity driven planning

At Kelloo we think velocity-driven sprint planning is great for longer-range sprint planning. The effort involved is minimal and the results are good enough for high-level forecasting without getting into too much detail.

Capacity-driven sprint planning has advantages when planning near-term sprints and will likely end up with a better understanding of what you can realistically achieve in the sprint.

So the approach ends up a little like this.

1. Move items from your backlog into the upcoming sprint. 

2. Compare the work vs the capacity of the sprint.

3. If full, move work into the next sprint or back to the backlog.

Note below how sprint 1 is planned in days, but sprints 2 and 3 are in points. But if you want to plan all in days or points, that is fine – whatever works for you.

Sprint capacity planning

Here is a good appraisal of both approaches – see what you think.

The good news – you can do both velocity and capacity-driven sprint planning in Kelloo.

Kelloo's agile resource management tools

Resource planning, forecasting and reporting in one place. We help you get the most from your projects and people.

How to calculate sprint capacity

Velocity-driven sprint planning is based on the assumption that the amount of work a team will do in upcoming sprints will be about the same as the amount of work completed in prior sprints. So most folks calculate an average based on the last two or three sprints. Then make adjustments for example if a team member has left or an additional member has joined.

With capacity-driven sprint planning, the team estimates the work in days or hours and compares this to the number of days / hours available in the upcoming sprint.

This is a calculation along the lines of:

Number of team members X number of working days in sprint – vacation time / time off.

This gives us an approximate number of days available in the sprint. Some teams will then adjust the number down a little to take into account other things people do (meetings, downtime etc).

The estimating process should not be too in-depth – rough estimates are enough. They are just being used to decide when the sprint is full.

How to do sprint capacity planning in Kelloo

Ok, let’s take a look at how to do sprint capacity planning in Kelloo (and if you like what you see, why not try a free trial of Kelloo).

The first thing we do is create our sprints. For each sprint you enter the expected capacity of the sprint – this is a best estimate of how much work you think you can achieve in the sprint. You can enter this in days or points.

You also assign resources, in the example below we have just assigned the Development Team, but you can assign as many resources as you wish.

A neat feature is that Kelloo works out the capacity of each resource over the period of the sprint (taking into account vacations etc). So we can use this as a guide when setting the overall sprint capacity.

Create sprint

You then lay out approximate timings for your sprints and start estimating the work for each. In the following example, we have three two-week sprints scheduled.

Sprint capacity planning

You can break your work down into user stories and provide an estimate for each, or just enter an overall estimate for the sprint.

Sprint user story estimates

The sprint capacity indicator shows which sprints are full, have too much work or still have available capacity.

Sprint capacity indicator

When planning your sprints, you can estimate your work in days, points or FTE.

days or points

If a sprint has too much work allocated, you can move some work into another sprint or return it to the backlog for future consideration.

move work to next sprint

You can also check the capacity of your resources on a week by week or month by month basis to check if there are any resource hotspots or constraints in your plans.

This is useful if people work on sprints and other work at the same time. The sprint may not be over capacity but individual teams or resources may be over allocated due to commitments on other projects.

sprint capacity planning heat map

To help you get a handle on when everything is happening and communicate your plans, use the roadmap.


Sprint capacity planning in Jira or other agile tools

While tools like Jira, Rally, Pivotal Tracker, and Version One are great for day to day management of the agile process, they are less suited to capacity planning and forecasting. A typical use case is to use Kelloo for high level and longer range forecasting and a tool like Jira for day to day management.

Sprint capacity planning in Excel or spreadsheet

While it is possible to perform sprint capacity planning in Excel or a spreadsheet, Kelloo is purpose built for the process. So you will find a bunch of features that will make your sprint capacity planning faster, easier, and more accurate.

Ready to try Kelloo with your team? Kelloo offers a whole lot more than sprint planning. Head over to Kelloo for a full rundown of the features and capabilities. You can also sign up for a free trial.

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