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How to set your sprint planning meeting duration: A guide for product leaders
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How to set your sprint planning meeting duration: A guide for product leaders

Discover what the ideal sprint planning meeting duration is and how it can help your teams boost productivity and effectiveness.

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Companies like Spotify excel at Agile development by using a Scrum team or "squad" structure to constantly refine and evolve its product in sprints. For example, features like Discover Weekly, Spotify Wrapped, and various user interface improvements came from understanding the end user and their shifting needs—and finding ways to keep up.*

Strong product teams like the ones at Spotify know sprint planning meetings are essential for setting goals and reaching alignment on upcoming product sprints. But having too many meetings, or meetings that consistently run over, can limit productivity and lower morale. That's why leaders of highly collaborative teams need to understand the sweet spot for sprint planning meeting duration, so they can build and collaborate effectively.

In this article, you'll learn how to determine your sprint planning meeting duration based on your team's capacity and working style. Then, we'll dive into some ways you can save time planning your next sprint—including using Switchboard as your single source of truth. 

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How long should a sprint planning meeting be? 

The duration of a sprint planning meeting can vary depending on the length of the sprint itself and the complexity of the project. But, according to former product manager Matthew Goldman, managing member at Totavi, "It does tend to take 45-55 minutes to get through sprint planning because people are going to have questions." 

But, "If you can't get through all the tickets you're planning to discuss, then you're probably not prepping the sprint properly, either," says Goldman. 

The Scum Guide suggests allocating up to two hours of planning for each week of sprint duration. This means:

  • For a one-week sprint, the sprint planning meeting should last up to two hours.
  • For a two-week sprint, up to four hours.
  • For a four-week sprint, up to eight hours.

However, there are a few factors that can impact how long sprint planning takes, as well as what makes the most sense for your team and product. Let's get into it. 

Sprint length

The length of the sprint directly impacts the duration of the sprint planning meeting. Longer sprints need more detailed planning to outline upcoming work. This is because there's more time to complete tasks and potentially more complex projects to manage. 

For example, a product team working on an ecommerce platform with four-week sprints might spend up to eight hours in sprint planning to meticulously discuss features like shopping cart enhancements or payment integration. This makes sure all aspects are covered for the extended timeframe.

Team size 

The size of the team can also significantly impact the duration of your sprint planning meetings. Larger teams might need longer meetings because there are more opinions, questions, and logistical considerations.

For example, a large team working on a cloud storage service might need additional time to ensure that every team member is clear on their responsibilities. This is especially important when coordinating across different components like backend infrastructure, frontend UI, and security features.


The frequency of sprint planning meetings is typically tied to the sprint length but adjusting the frequency can also impact meeting duration. 

Teams that operate with shorter, more frequent sprints might make sprint planning meetings shorter and more focused, since the scope of work is narrower. A mobile app development team working on bi-weekly updates to an existing application might streamline sprint planning meetings to just a couple of hours every two weeks, focusing on small, incremental improvements and bug fixes.


Teams that invest time in backlog refinement and set clear goals before the meeting may find that they can accomplish more in a shorter amount of time during the actual planning session. 

Imagine a software development team working on a project management tool. They might use the time before the meeting to refine their backlog, including clearly defined user stories and acceptance criteria. With priorities out of the way, the team can efficiently use their planning time to assign tasks and set sprint goals, making the meeting more productive and shorter.

Experience and efficiency 

Experienced teams with a history of working together can quickly understand each other's capabilities, anticipate potential issues, and efficiently allocate tasks.

For instance, a veteran team developing a meditation app might leverage their familiarity with the product and each other to swiftly navigate through planning. Thanks to their established communication, teamwork, and decision-making processes, they can sail through introducing complex new features.

Pro tip: Make adjustments to the meeting length based on feedback, team dynamics, and sprint retrospectives, to find the right balance. This lets you thoroughly plan and get more done in sprints—without wasting anyone's time. 

Above, we discussed some factors that influence sprint planning duration. Next, we'll get into other metrics that help teams forecast work, manage resources, and stay productive over time

Velocity vs. capacity-based team planning

Let's take a look at two ways that help you estimate sprint planning duration: 

Velocity-based planning 

Team velocity planning involves looking at the team's historical performance over previous sprints and helps them predict capacity based on past achievements. The team considers its average velocity to understand the amount of work it can realistically commit to in the upcoming sprint. It helps set expectations regarding your team's ability to deliver user stories or tasks.

Teams should take into account their historical velocity when planning the meeting duration. If the team has a high velocity, more time may be needed to ensure thorough discussions and effective planning.

Capacity-based planning 

Capacity planning is where you assess the team's overall availability and capability to work on tasks during the upcoming sprint. It takes into account factors such as team members' availability, holidays, and any non-development activities that may impact the team's capacity.

If the team's capacity is limited due to factors like holidays, vacations, or other commitments, you might need to allocate more time for sprint planning. This can also include more discussions about how to make the best use of available resources and workflow. 

Pro tip: Combine capacity and velocity planning for more accurate sprint planning sessions.

For example, a product team preparing for a sprint calculates the total available hours for the upcoming sprint. After accounting for all reductions, the team has 80 percent of its usual capacity. Then, at the velocity planning stage, the team quantifies their output using "story points," which are units of measure that express the overall effort required to complete a user story.

Since their average velocity is 30 story points, it helps them gauge how much work they typically complete. Knowing their capacity is reduced to 80 percent for this sprint, the team can adjust their expectations. They decide to aim for 80 percent of their average velocity, considering the reduced capacity, which would be 24 story points.

How to save time during sprint planning meetings

Due to the subjective nature of sprint planning and how long it should take, it's important to keep in mind that half of all meetings are ineffective. This means you need to think of ways to avoid unproductive meetings by keeping them short—or canceling them altogether. According to Goldman, "Most meetings should be less than an hour, and you should never be afraid to end meetings early." 

Here are some ways to save time during sprint planning and get more hours back for meaningful focus work. 

Define your sprint goals

Sprint goals give your team a focused objective of the sprint, keeping discussions centered on the most important tasks and stories. For example, if a team's goal is to enhance the user interface of their application, they can base discussions on tasks that contribute to this goal, like understanding user experience. This saves time addressing tasks down the backlog.

Pro tip: Keep your sprint goals and sprint planning meeting agenda in a dedicated Switchboard room everyone can access before, during, and after the meeting. This keeps everyone on the same page while making them active stakeholders in the meeting and scrum project's outcome. 
Sticky notes and project proposal in a Switchboard room
Switchboard keeps agile teams truly agile by reducing time wasted looking for siloed documents and files, so they can do more async.

Complete product backlog refinements before the meeting

In Agile teams, the Scrum Master will need to review, organize, and prioritize the product backlog items in advance, ensuring that the most important tasks are clear and well-defined. By doing this, you can enter the sprint planning meeting with a prepared list of tasks to discuss. This reduces the time spent on understanding, clarifying, and prioritizing sprint backlog items during the meeting. 

For instance, a team working on a new marketing automation tool can pre-define which features are essential for the upcoming release. This makes sure that the meeting focuses on how to execute these features rather than what features to include—and can keep output and productivity high.

Pro tip: Host your next backlog grooming session async in a Switchboard project room and skip coordinating across teams, departments, and time zones. Easily review, update, and prioritize user stories based on their value, urgency, and dependencies in an interactive canvas everyone can access—and lead more successful sprint planning meetings.
Collaboration tools open in a Switchboard room
Switchboard lets you do more during and between meetings—setting you up for a more successful sprint planning session.

Set your sprint planning meeting duration and stick to it

Before the meeting, agree on a timeframe that reflects the complexity of the sprint and the size of the team. Having a time limit prompts the team to discuss and make decisions quickly, making sure everyone's time is used effectively. 

For example, a team working on developing a new SaaS product could allocate four hours for their two-week sprint planning. They use this time constraint to drive productive discussions and prevent the meeting from overrunning or getting sidetracked. 

Create estimates for each task 

When team members have a clear understanding of the effort required for each task, it can streamline the selection process. This is because it's easier to quickly assess tasks for their feasibility within the sprint's scope when you already know the time and resources involved. 

For a team enhancing its ecommerce platform, having pre-estimated tasks lets them assess what kind of improvements (i.e., checkout process, search functionality) can realistically be tackled in the upcoming sprint.

Validate team capacities 

Underestimating team capacity can be a big reason why sprints fail. You need to know that the tasks selected for your upcoming sprint are in line with the team's available resources. By understanding each person's availability, including vacations, part-time schedules, or other commitments, you can make informed decisions about the workload they can handle

This means that during the planning meeting, you can focus on how to distribute tasks effectively rather than determining individual availability. For instance, a team working on a mobile app might adjust their sprint commitments based on the temporary absence of a key developer, ensuring the workload remains manageable. 

Align sprint goals with the product roadmap

You need to make sure your team's efforts are consistently contributing towards long-term objectives. This saves time on lengthy discussions about the strategic value of individual tasks, and can unify your team through a common vision. Plus, it makes it easier for you and your team to select tasks that advance your broader objectives. 

Imagine a team developing project management software. By aligning their sprint goals with roadmap milestones, such as implementing a new reporting feature by Q3, they can maintain focus on strategic priorities when planning.

Pro tip: Keep company objectives and key results (OKRs), your project management tool, and all your favorite sprint planning tools in a Switchboard room—and give everyone visibility into long- and short-term goals. 
Sticky notes, PDFs, and Google Docs open in a Switchboard room
Switchboard keeps everyone and everything organized by project—so goals and objectives don't get lost or sidetracked.

Sprint planning meeting duration: Save time by preparing async

With lots of planning and a little luck, your productivity and sprints might rival Spotify's. But while sprint planning meetings are essential for setting goals and reaching alignment on upcoming product sprints, there's more you can, and should, do outside of them.

That's because having too many meetings, or meetings that consistently run over, can limit productivity and lower morale. Leaders need to understand the sweet spot for sprint planning meeting duration, so they can build and work together effectively.

Understanding factors like sprint length, frequency, and preparation, and the difference between velocity vs. capacity-based planning, can help you figure out your ideal sprint planning duration. 

Plus, when you use Switchboard, it makes it easier to see all the components of your project—no matter where or when you're working, so you can plan better sprints and hit more goals

Plan and host sprints all from one place.
Switchboard is your single source of truth for all things sprint planning.
Sign up free

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Plan and host sprints all from one place.

Switchboard is your single source of truth for all things sprint planning.