What to do if your Sprint Derails

Sprint Derails

Did your Sprint Derail?

I am sure its happened to the best of us, you spend time refactoring your backlog; getting it prioritised, everyone is on the same page. You complete your Sprint Planning and are ready for a successful sprint.

What happens if you are a few days into your sprint and all of a sudden everything gets turned upside down?

Imagine you planned to integrate with a 3rd party library, or service provider and for some reason contract negotiations fail and you you can no longer continue with those tasks. Maybe you were working on a project that for some business reason gets de-prioritised and its no longer to be worked on.

For these reasons you or the team might decide that so much work cannot be done that its best to end the Sprint early.

Should you Terminate Early?

I actually think if most of the work in this scenario cannot be completed, then its OK to end the sprint early. But what should you do about the next sprint?

I think in this scenario you need to run a sprint of abnormal length. You shouldn’t disrupt your usual sprint planning and have a normal sprint length, 2 or 4 weeks as you usually do them.

If you do 2 week sprints, so 10 working days and on day 4 you decide to terminate your sprint, then do a 6 day sprint so that your planning remains on track, and your team stays in its normal routine.



If like me, you have worked in teams that like to end the sprint on a particular day, then you are ensuring that this remains, also your end of sprint meetings like the Review or Retrospective do not need to be rescheduled. Getting business team members to attend these meetings might already be a challenge.

In closing, the key factor in doing this is communication. If you are going to cancel the sprint early, make sure everyone is on the same page, understands the impacts and if any meetings need to be rescheduled everyone knows.


Ashley-Christian Hardy
Process hacker, optimizer and team motivator. Blogging my ideas, initiatives and innovations. Certified Scrum Master/ Product Owner & Agile Project Manager

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