To improve and speed up your processes, you can build your sprint planning template in Gmail. And we are here to show you how, step by step.
This article will explain the benefits of running your sprint workflow inside the most used free email service in the whole world. And also how to create your template in it the easier (and free) way.
What is Sprint Planning?
Sprint planning, also called Agile sprint planning is one of the steps of the Scrum methodology. Product and engineering teams use it to prioritize their projects and get things done the right way. It also helps them to decide who will be able to join a specific project or task.
These teams need to have the ability to track their scrum capacity planning, to schedule the right projects at the proper time. And if they are able to run efficient sprint planning, they succeed in keeping their terms and delivering excellent results.
Why doing Sprint planning in Gmail
You can make your projects a lot more productive if you keep them in your inbox. We can bet that you receive many requests related to your projects via email. Most development and engineering teams do.
If this is your case, we have some reasons why you should start using Gmail aligned with Drag, to manage your sprint planning.
In simple words, Drag is a shared inbox tool that works inside Gmail, that offers so many features that turn your inbox in a complete workflow. It serves many different purposes, and sprint planning is one of them.
Let’s check some benefits of using Drag in your Gmail inbox.
Work in a visual way
Kanban view is one of the best ways of handling work visually. You can customize your Drag boards according to your needs. It’s also possible to sort & filter, rename, rearrange or expand the columns.
Eliminate the back and forth between tools
Instead of listing all the features that the team will implement during the development process in different software, and making extensive sprint meetings, you can focus every communication in just one place: Gmail.
After all switching between various tools can be time-consuming. With Drag in Gmail, you will have more time to focus on what is most important, that is the actual work.
All the information you need
Everything you need to get things done in your sprint planning you can have in your inbox:
- Tasks and subtasks
- Email history
- Priority levels
- Links and files
- Bug descriptions,
- Product specs
How to build a Sprint Planning Template in Gmail
Right above you can see Drag’s Sprint Planning example. It is the template you can take a model to build yours in Gmail, according to how your workflow is running at the moment.
There are seven steps you need to follow, so your team can completely use the available resources to create a functional and clear template.
First things first: Install Drag for free
This is the essential step before starting to build your template. You need to add Drag’s Chrome Extension to your browser. But don’t worry, it’s free and it just takes a few seconds. Then, open, or refresh your Gmail tab.
Next, a popup from Gmail’s authorizations will appear on the screen. You can read it, and then accept the permissions to allow Drag to work on your Gmail inbox.
That’s all! You are ready now to start managing a sprint project.
Step 1: Use Kanban for a better view of work
Drag kanban boards provide a holistic view of your sprint planning. You can visualize and interact with the board by setting columns with the necessary stages for your projects. These columns are adjustable, you can resize them if you need, and change their places if necessary.
Then you can easily drag and drop what we call cards (emails and tasks) between these columns. This process helps you change and track the sprints’ status in a much more clear and faster way.
Step 2: List your product backlog
The first column of your sprint planning template is the backlog. Here you can add your sprints in three different ways:
- Receive emails on a team shared inbox, such as product@ or dev@;
- Drag emails from a personal inbox to the team inbox;
- Create cards and filling them with backlog’s information;
Share your team’s inbox
Some sprint teams usually have alias email addresses, such as firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, for instance. And many of them still share logins and passwords to work inside their team accounts, so they extract the backlog from incoming emails. Fortunately, there are safer and more straightforward ways to do this. Ways that can eliminate the difficulty of understanding what is going on with so many emails, and what to reply or not.
Let’s face it: dev teams don’t have time to waste on complicated email steps, such as forwarding or copying emails between the team members to assign tasks. They need a clear workflow, that just with a look and a few clicks they can figure out the whole sprint plan.
So, with Drag, teams can set dynamic shared inboxes, where they receive in real-time on their team inbox. You can add all the team members to the shared board, where they will be able to read and reply to emails as part of a team without leaving their own accounts.
Emails that arrive on personal inboxes
Requests can also come from the team members’ personal inboxes, such as firstname.lastname@example.org. That’s why you can just drag emails from your inbox to the team’s inbox. Quick and easy.
Requests coming from other channels
There are times when feature requests can come from the company’s public roadmap, social media, or a third-party chat. Or even from a phone call or in-person, depending on how the company works.
Drag makes it possible to create new cards that you can fill with all the data available about these requests. Notice that you can also create cards inside shared boards, so you can centralize all your work in just one place.
Step 3: Use tags and color-coding to define your sprints
Drag has its own highly customizable and visual tag system. You can create your labels by choosing specific colors and even adding emojis. You just need to copy and paste them during the creation process. It makes your template unique and it also facilitates how the sprint team handles the projects using this software.
For example, you can use tags to place the story points from 1 to 10. Or to set the difficulty of a certain sprint such as Low, Medium, and High with respective colors.
Moreover, you can define colors to your cards, to make it clear what it is about. Take a look at the template above. We created a subtitle card containing explanations for the colors used in each type of sprint:
- Purple for bugs;
- Orange for new features;
- Blue for requests that don’t fit any of the previous types;
This makes a team member figure out the next steps with just a glimpse, saving a lot of time.
Step 4: Assign tasks to team members
With just two clicks you can assign a sprint to a specific team member. And you don’t need to send any email for that, because Drag sends an email with the notification of the assignment automatically.
Notice that the team member to whom you assigned the task appears in the card – with their photo. So you can easily visualize who is doing each task.
Step 5: Set due dates
Sprints must have final due dates. And as soon as you define them, you can simply mark the sprint card checkbox and click on the calendar icon, in the top menu that appears.
After choosing the date, Drag creates an event in your Google Calendar, where you can share a team schedule. Moreover, you can edit this event without leaving your inbox. You just need to click the Calendar icon on the right menu and go to the due date. Your event will be there, and you will be able to add guests, add information, a video meeting link, and what is necessary for the team to be on the same page of that specific project.
Step 6: Attach files, links, images
In the tab tasks, you can add URLs containing links to screenshots, documents, and recordings. This facilitates the process of verifying what’s the specific problem a client is facing for example, so the team can figure out how to solve it.
Step 7: Chat with the teammates with context
What if you could eliminate some time on the sprint planning meetings? Actually, with Drag, you can. In each card of your board, there is an internal chat, where you can exchange information about its content. Usually an email, but it can also be a task, as we mentioned in step 2.
It makes teams concentrate the conversations about a specific matter right where it is. With no need of mentioning the whole context in a third-party tool, such as Slack or Google Chat.
If you type @ and the name of a team member, they will automatically receive an email, notifying them that they need to take action in that specific sprint. The messages arrive in real-time, and they stay there on the card, so you can read it at any time to have all the context you need.
Now you are all set to start using Gmail as your new workflow for scrum sprint planning. Above all, we hope that you could see that having everything you need to work in your projects right in your inbox, can make your team a lot more productive.