Sprint 0 - Definition, Objectives, Outcomes, and Benfits

How to Run a Highly Productive Sprint Retrospective Meeting with an Agenda?How to Run a Highly Productive Sprint Retrospective Meeting with an Agenda?

Sprint 0 is a term commonly used in Agile project management, especially in Scrum, to refer to the initial phase of a project where preparatory work is done before starting the first official sprint.

During Sprint 0, the team focuses on planning and preparation rather than immediately diving into development.

The main goal of Sprint 0 is to set up the team for future delivery by creating the basic project skeleton, defining the vision, preparing the product backlog, and conducting any necessary training workshops.

It allows the team to establish a clear understanding of the work ahead, identify the scope, and set the project on the right track.

As Agile continues to gain momentum and widespread adoption, grasping the essence of Sprint Zero becomes crucial for successful project planning and execution.

Understanding Agile and Sprints

Before delving into the specifics of Sprint Zero, let's first grasp the essence of Agile and its key building block, the Sprint.

Agile is a project management approach that emphasizes iterative and incremental development.

Its benefits are undeniable, ranging from improved product quality and customer satisfaction to increased control over project development and faster ROI turnaround.

Sprints, on the other hand, break down the project into manageable parts, typically lasting between 2 to 4 weeks.

During a Sprint, a development team collaboratively works on a well-defined goal to produce a piece of usable code.

The piece of code created in each Sprint contributes to the larger project, making it testable and functional on its own.

What is Sprint Zero?

Sprint Zero is a crucial starting point in the Agile journey, occurring before the formal initiation of a project or at the inception of a new team.

Understanding Sprint Zero

Sprint Zero, contrary to popular belief, is not about wasting time or replicating the traditional waterfall approach.

Instead, it is an opportunity to lay the foundation for future sprints and ensure the project's success in the long run.

The primary objective of Sprint Zero is to create the essential groundwork and infrastructure necessary for smooth and efficient development in subsequent iterations.

Debunking Sprint Zero Myths

Misconceptions about Sprint Zero often lead to confusion and misapplication of this concept. Let's debunk some common myths associated with Sprint Zero to set the record straight.

  1. Not Team Formation: Sprint Zero is not the phase for assembling the development team. A team must already be in place before undertaking any Sprint.

  2. Not Infrastructure Setup: Setting up infrastructure should be done beforehand or on-demand, not as part of Sprint Zero.

  3. Not for Adding Products to Backlog: The Sprint Zero phase should not involve adding products or conducting planning. These tasks are better suited for pre-planning phases.

  4. Not Big Design Up Front: Following Agile principles, Sprint Zero should focus on minimal design and be cautious against big design upfront.

  5. Avoid Rules Contradiction: Enforcing new rules for Sprint Zero that do not contribute to software development can undermine Agile principles and create confusion within the team.

Characteristics of Sprint Zero

Now that we've clarified what Sprint Zero is not, let's explore its core characteristics. Sprint Zero serves as a foundational phase aimed at delivering some usable value that the subsequent teams can build upon. Key characteristics of Sprint Zero include:

  1. Project Skeleton & Research Spikes: Sprint Zero lays the groundwork by creating the project's skeleton and conducting research spikes to identify potential challenges and solutions.

  2. Minimal Design: Emphasizing simplicity, Sprint Zero avoids extensive design principles, focusing on laying the essential groundwork.

  3. Small Number of Stories: Sprint Zero aims to complete only a few stories, providing a functional base for the next team.

  4. Low Velocity & Lightweight: Compared to regular Sprints, Sprint Zero operates with a lower velocity and remains lightweight in its approach.

Goals, Activities & Benefits

To grasp the essence of Sprint Zero fully, it's essential to understand its goals, activities, and benefits compared to a traditional Scrum Sprint.

Sprint Zero Goals and Objectives

Like any Scrum Sprint, the primary goal of Sprint Zero is to produce something tangible.

However, the intensity of software development is lower than in a regular Sprint. The deliverables of Sprint Zero include:

  • A small piece of usable code, even if minimal.
  • A lightweight environment for writing code.
  • Prioritization of features or a list of stories.
  • A release plan assigning each story to a Sprint.
  • A plan for the likely implementation of features.

Not all organizations or projects require a Sprint Zero, especially if they are well-versed in successful Sprints and know their Sprint readiness.

Sprint Zero Activities

Sprint Zero follows activities similar to other Sprints, including:

  • Updating the backlog.
  • Conducting Sprint planning sessions.
  • Holding daily Sprint team meetings.
  • Carrying out Sprint review sessions or debriefs.
  • Delivering the product increment.

Unlike regular Sprints, Sprint Zero's duration should not exceed a few days, ideally no more than a week.

Sprint Zero Benefits

The primary advantage of Sprint Zero lies in preparing the team for the upcoming work and instilling confidence in its members.

By planning a framework for success and ensuring a functional Sprint environment, teams can avoid obstacles and setbacks.

Conducting an Effective Sprint Zero

To make the most of Sprint Zero, an organization should understand that a successful Sprint Zero is the stepping stone to a successful Sprint One. Here are some key do's and don'ts for conducting an effective Sprint Zero:


  • Keep it Short: Sprint Zero should not take longer than a week, ideally just a few days.

  • Emphasize Lightweight Approach: Avoid excessive design principles and focus on minimal essential design.

  • Focus on the First Sprint: Limit your efforts to what is expressly needed for a successful kickoff of the first Sprint.

  • Promote Team Building: Foster collaboration and teamwork within the Sprint Zero group.


  • Prolong the Duration: Avoid making Sprint Zero longer than necessary; a prolonged Sprint Zero may hinder progress.

  • Embrace Big Design Upfront: Remember that Sprint Zero aims for minimal design, adhering to Agile principles.

  • Lose Sight of Initial Sprint Readiness: Sprint Zero serves as a stepping stone for readiness, so don't neglect this crucial aspect.

Sprint Zero vs. Pre-Planning

It's essential to differentiate between Sprint Zero and traditional pre-planning.

While pre-planning involves gathering resources and setting the stage for the project, Sprint Zero goes beyond that.

It focuses on delivering a functional foundation for subsequent teams to build upon, ensuring an Agile software development process.


Sprint Zero might carry a certain air of mystery, but with this comprehensive guide, we have demystified its true nature.

As Agile continues to revolutionize project management across industries, understanding and effectively applying Sprint Zero can pave the way for successful projects and empowered development teams.

Whether your organization embraces Sprint Zero or not, its principles can significantly contribute to an Agile transformation that fosters innovation, efficiency, and success.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) / People Also Ask (PAA)

Is Sprint Zero an official Scrum event?

How long does Sprint Zero typically last?

What activities are typically performed during Sprint Zero?

Is Sprint Zero necessary for every Agile project?

What is the difference between Sprint Zero and Spike in Scrum?

How does Sprint Zero contribute to project success?