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Only take on what’s possible

For your development team to have any chance of success in their Sprint, the Scrum Master needs to ensure that they only take on as much work as they have time to complete.  To determine available time for the Sprint, as Scrum Master you’ll need to create a capacity planning chart.  The chart will be used to identify how much time each team member has for what we call “hands on keyboard”.  The chart will include the following columns:

  • Name – the name of each team member
  • Days in Sprint – indicates the total number of days in your Sprint
  • Hours in Sprint
  • PTO – this number indicates any Paid Time Off (e.g. vacation time) a team member plans to take during the Sprint
  • Other Allocations – this number indicates any time that the team member has committed to other work outside this Sprint (e.g. special projects, training, etc.).
  • Buffer – the buffer is used to allow team members to check email, complete status reports, fill out time sheets, provide production support.  For new teams or team members this number should start out high (e.g. 50%) and be fine tuned as the team matures.  If your team members are required to provide production support this number may remain high.  Our highly experienced Scrum team members do provide production support so their buffer remains at 30%.
  • Net Capacity – indicates the amount of “hands on keyboard” time the team member has for the upcoming Sprint.  This number is calculated  by subtracting PTO and Other Allocations from the Hours in Sprint and then multiplying by the Buffer percentage.

Once you have the net capacity you need to ensure that no team member has taken on more work than their net capacity.  Most team members will find this to be a welcome change where they have not been allocated for more work than they said they can do.  So do not skip this important step in your Sprint team planning meetings – in fact – it should be the first thing you do.


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