A Sprint is different from an Iteration

In other frameworks under Agile, the term iteration is used to define the time period in which plan and develops an increment of functionality. So, why introduce a new term – sprint in Scrum.

The obvious answer [and correct one too] is that Scrum borrows a lot of terminology from Rugby [including the word Scrum]. A sprint in Rugby is a distance an athlete would travel from one end to another. Before an athelete or team would sprint, the team would quickly get together and plan how to go about it. During the sprint, an athlete would encounter opposition from the other team and might go ahead with the plan [if the plan still is good] or more likely alter the plan. You can anticipate but not predict the opposition. A sprint tests whether the team is a team, whether they are good or not and their ability to respond to change. It is clear to see why sprint is an appropriate terminology for Scrum. A sprint in Scrum is a time period (can be anything from 2 to 8 weeks) in which the team does whatever it can to develop software as per the features/ requirements that the Team has committed to. It is important to note that during a Sprint, the team not only iterates towards a final product solution, always improving on what they already have, but also take on some additional increments. Hence, product is developed iteratively and incrementally during a sprint. The term iteration can sometimes fail to capture the incremental part of product development during a sprint.


10 Responses to “A Sprint is different from an Iteration”

  1. I always viewed a sprint as a specific type of iteration, i.e. a sprint is an iteration, but an iteration doesn’t have to be a sprint. I assume they gave it a different name because they wanted it to be more specific. That makes sense to me anyway.

  2. Hi guys
    In my knowledge ‘Sprint’ is just the Scrum term for… iteration (always time-boxed).
    There is no big analogy with rugby, just the word (Scrum). The only parallel that could be found with a rugby scrum might be ‘getting an out of game ball back in the game’ (but it was certainly not the inspiration to come up with the name for the method).
    The use of the word ‘Sprint’ is pretty distinct, but in my opinion not as a test period for the team, but because it reflects the fact that the finishing line is set, and that, as a team you commit and you Sprint together towards the (Sprint) goal.
    Although there are tendencies to regard the Sprint length as variable, I personally believe in the original Scrum prerequisite of fixed Sprint lengths of 30 days (I tend to use calendar months).
    Concerning the incremental element? Well, Scrum is an Agile method and all Agile methods have in common that they stand for iterative-incremental development. So it’s not because Sprint = iteration, that the demand for incremental is not set.

  3. […] A Sprint is different from an Iteration « Agile Diary, Agile Introduction, Agile Implementation (tags: agile sprint iteration) […]

  4. In some circumstances, an iteration can imply same things as a sprint : iterative, incremental, time boxed. However, when you specifically use the term sprint, it always means something. Depending on how you look at it, this can be beautiful or constrained.

  5. Here is my explanation bout the differences between iterations, increments and sprints: http://samipoimala.com/it/2010/04/16/iterations-and-increments-explained/

  6. subside sport…

    […]A Sprint is different from an Iteration « Agile Diary, Agile Introduction, Agile Implementation[…]…

  7. I thought that a sprint was the amount of work a scrum team could get done within a time period of up to the iteration length. That way each iteration could have multiple scrum teams sprinting to get stuff done within either their sprint periods or within the iteration period.

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