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Does anyone know of a (reasonably) rigorous study done on benefits and drawbacks of different sprint lengths? I certainly have read (and have my own) anecdotal experience, but am curious to know if anything more quantitative exists - thanks!

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The longer sprints are used for more stable situations, and the shorter Sprints are used for more opportunistic or challenging situations. Ken Schwaber explains in the book Software in 30 Days the reasons which can be used to determine the best length of the sprint :

  1. Overhead of shorter sprints
  2. Greater flexibility and control

    a. Realistic Sprint Planning b. Feedback Loops c. Establishment of velocity stability d. Volatile team/technology/market e. Risk Control

Overhead of the Shorter Sprints: Overhead from project ceremonies can impact how much you can get done because there is less overall time available. Two 2-week Sprints cost more than one 30-day Sprint. Twice as many Sprint Planning, Review, and Retrospective Meetings will occur. The Scrum Team will have to formulate a new design twice as often. The natural ramp-up and wind-down from Sprints will happen twice as often. The price of shorter Sprints is the increased time needed for planning and review. So we will have less available development time for shorter duration sprints as compared to sprints with larger duration.

Greater flexibility and control In case your work requires more planning, reassessing, feedbacks we should have sprints of lesser duration. Lesser duration sprints provide more flexibility and control than 30-day Sprint.

a. Realistic Sprint Planning For what length of the sprint team can accurately plan the work. if the team cant forecast the work accurately for a one month sprint than it doesn't make sense to have sprint of this much duration.

b. Feedback Loops how often we require feedback from the user.shorter duration sprints will have more frequent feedback loops

c. Establishment of velocity stability The best way to forecast the cost of a project is to review past productivity on similar projects, identical technologies, and teams that have worked together for a long time

d. Volatile team/technology/market Length of the sprint determines how often we can redirect and replan a product. So if market is volatile than we will like to reassess and redirect the product more frequently. Shorter duration sprints help teams become more proficient and productive

e. Risk Control: The limited duration though has some other advantages like limiting risk. The investment in the project is limited to the duration of the sprint and in case market,people or tech are volatile gathering the cost and benefit information is very critical.

But considering the greater predictability, control, and flexibility, most teams adapt shorter Sprints.

  • Thank you Nipun - what I was looking for was more along the lines of a white paper, a study, or a set of surveys - something more quantitative than qualitative - this is the only thing I've seen suggested so far that fits the bill: authorstream.com/Presentation/… – Jon Odo Jul 21 '14 at 14:09
  • Jon it is too contextual to be isolated for experimentation. It can vary based on circumstances for a particular scenario and as of now, imo, there has been no study or experimentation done to check which length suits which needs. – Nipun Anand PSM Jul 24 '14 at 17:20
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I was pointed to a single study, highlighted here http://www.authorstream.com/Presentation/LMaccherone-2152249-impact-agile-quantified-de-mystery-thriller/

Still would love to see any others

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