How many times have you planned a sprint with your scrum team and had to use Jira, Miro, excel, and a few other tools just to make planning predictable? And, in the end, hopefully, achieve the sprint goal. Was it fun? Are all those hours of planning worth it?

Throughout my years of experience, I tested a lot of combinations of tools to best plan a sprint, and it always struck me that instead of focusing on key product planning aspects, we had to fight with the tools. After a while, when you get a grasp on your technique, the planning will become more smooth. But! There are still many steps you have to take, that are just a total waste of time. Move tasks from Jira to Miro, and export SP to excel to check for holidays, and other events. These are all useless activities, which should be eliminated.

I decided to do something that would help teams focus on valuable activities and together with my colleagues at Hobly we started a whole new project – Visual Sprint Planner. A tool that allows you to do everything in one place, based on the work you already did in Jira before the sprint planning, eliminating the need to copy-paste data between tools.

And in this article, I will show you how you can benefit from the features of VSP and how to use our tool. Let’s call it a tutorial in a form of an article.

The start is simple. Create a sprint and drop Stories onto it. Let’s assume you didn’t add any subtasks to your sprint backlog items earlier so we are simply starting with Stories estimated in Story Points or other currency. No time tracking yet!

After you add the Stories you want to plan, set sprint dates and enter VSP through the sprint menu. This will bring you to our main VSP view.

Now you can start adding tasks and estimating them.

After adding tasks, people can start assigning themselves to them and you can plan sprint in a simple visual timeline.

Drawing tasks on a timeline has one big advantage: you can clearly see if there are any concurrent, dependent, or parallel tasks.

Everything you and your team do in VSP automatically appears on the sprint board, so you don’t even need to share your screen – you can work almost like in Miro using the VSP default view.

Throughout the sprint, you and your team can easily access Visual Sprint Planner, modify any task and check how the sprint goal will be affected. VSP will tell you if you overestimate your tasks or are they estimated too cautiously. This will help you greatly during the retrospective.

Think about it – finally, you don’t have to prepare a lot of data to show where (and why) you had problems. Now you can analyze this data directly in Jira without any preparation, any data exports, and hours of your work lost.

But remember to regularly check VSP during the sprint. It will tell you more about the workload of your team than the active sprint board. You will quickly learn if your plan going well or is it time to shuffle some things to achieve the sprint goal.

The future of VSP

In the future, we plan to focus the whole VSP ecosystem around an agile team. For example, VSP will be able to talk to the Jira retrospective tool and allow you to draw positive or negative events on a timeline, throw a problem directly to a team retro board, take action item from retro and plan it for the next sprint. Everything I showed you is just the beginning of Visual Sprint Planner.

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