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University System of Maryland

Sprint Planning for Faster Agile Team Delivery

University System of Maryland and University of Maryland, College Park via edX


Version 2 of this course series delivers beyond the original agile certification. It includes updated content, better audit and verified learner experiences, and bonus videos on key topics.

The follow-on to this course series on “Advanced Scrum” is expected by the end of Summer 2020.

Speed is by far the most sought-after benefit of Agile.

First mover advantages, the economic cost of delays, and the enabling effect on innovation drive the search for speed. Agile offers the fastest means of attaining speed: managing scope. But beyond the hype over scope management, there are key principles of non-traditional task management that ensure the scope chosen is delivered as efficiently as possible.

In this course, you'll learn how to drive speed into any project by selecting and limiting work-in-progress through agile planning and task management. There are two principle roles involved, the scrum master and the product owner. However, the entire scrum team needs to understand the principles behind backlog refinement, sprint planning, and execution throughout the sprint cycle.

In this course we'll show you how to run effective sprint planning meetings that produce a sprint backlog ready to deliver on your sprint goals and release objectives. You'll learn the power of prioritizing backlog items, and why we agile planning and sprint planning isn't just a managed list you work top-down in priority order. Instead, scrum teams commit to achieving goals and work together to ensure the user stories that are highest priority get delivered in this sprint, so the upcoming sprint isn't delayed. This also means understanding your team capacity and how to ensure safe and on-time delivery of the highest items on the product backlog that actually matter to your customer.

While this course will not make you an agile certified practitioner (PMI-ACP), or certified scrum master (CSM), it offers a more fundamental agile certification based on agile principles and how sprint planning enables hyper productivity in industry today. You'll finish this course more than ready to continue your agile journey, which we hope takes you to the next course in the series on “Agile Innovation and Problem Solving Skills.”

Upon successful completion of this course, learners can earn 10 Professional Development Unit (PDU) credits, which are recognized by the Project Management Institute (PMI). PDU credits are essential to those looking to maintain certification as a Project Management Professional (PMP).


  • Week 1: The first week focuses the discussion on Agile to its primary benefit, Speed, and how to easily calculate and prove its supremacy in benefits of any project management method because of timing impacts and market changes outside a project manager’s control.

  • Week 2: The second week explores why and how varying scope is the most powerful method to achieve speed; introducing the Exponential Pareto Principle and how to apply it effectively. Perhaps the most important lesson is that not all product backlog items are equal, and in fact, most don't matter at all!

  • Week 3: The third week dives into second tier methods for achieving speed through sizing, simplicity, and sprints with real-world examples ranging from air and space craft to software. Team members work together to ensure a smooth glide on the burndown chart by actively managing work in process during daily scrum sessions.

  • Week 4: The last week teaches ground-level techniques to avoid delays, increase speed, and apply a full range of planning, execution, and control techniques that will guarantee 2x or better improvement on traditional projects. This week is essential to producing a winning product backlog and release plan.

Taught by

John Johnson

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4.5 rating, based on 197 reviews

Start your review of Sprint Planning for Faster Agile Team Delivery

  • Really great course with interesting examples on how to plan for faster agile team delivery. great to see building from the previous course. the examples given and external links were very useful. there were some spelling mistakes and omitted words that were distracting (especially on quizzes) and one time there was a quiz question that pertained to the next section.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    There is a lot of good material, mostly towards the end of the course. However, there is supposed to be bonus material for verified students and only the first course in the series has that material and this one does not.

    Also a lot of the questions on the final tests I think are unfair (asking about specifics not covered), incorrectly (I answered exactly as found in the notes but was marked wrong), poorly worded/ambiguous, and lacking in quality e.g. major typos or boilerplate text that should have been removed but wasn't.

    Overall I found some value in the class but think it wasn't as good as I expected and certainly comes across as a rush job by UMD.
  • Anonymous
    Some questions on quizzes and exams are ambiguous and require guesswork!

    The summary at the end of the video is great and offer a nice overview of material covered.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    I enjoyed the course more than I'd expected, and look forward to finding ways to incorporate more speed into my team's processes. I can also see that I have a lot to learn. (I fall into the classification of "unofficial project manager" or "default project...
  • Anonymous
    I really enjoyed this course, and it felt much less conceptually dense than the first one. However, I feel that it doesn't go into as much depth as I would like, and that the videos could go into a bit more detail. I also miss the bullet points appearing one after the other that the previous course had. It was much easier to take notes and make sense of everything when I had the instructor talk through a bullet point, and transition to the next as the slide did. Again, the course also needs some better proofreading.

    Overall, it was a good course, but it definitely needs improvement in the future.
  • Anonymous
    I enjoy the video lectures and find the insights helpful and applicable to a range of industries. Professor Johnson's style is conversational and easy to follow. I agree with another's comment, however, that the assessments occasionally test specifics that are not covered in the video (and are sometimes not covered in the lesson summary, either.) I had no issue passing the course, but failure to answer these few questions correctly makes me think that I missed important terminology or a valuable concept. I did not find this to be the case in the first agile class in the program, and believe that including explanations for some/all of the answered questions could be a useful feature for clarifying any doubts.
  • Profile image for Mayar Hossam
    Mayar Hossam
    The content the course covers is very adequate. However, it spends the first 3 weeks with high focus on things we shouldn't do in planning, scoping, scheduling and so on. Also does not provide enough details about new principles and how to apply them in terms of examples or case studies. New principles include KISS, 50/50 estimate, stretch backlogs, how to generally plan and organize for an effective sprint is not covered in even one case study for us to apply the course content practically.
  • Anonymous
    I found this course to be very valuable. Each lesson was well organized and materials format was very easy to follow. The learning videos and the added reference materials for further reading was helpful.
    I learned several new topics (ex: Double Pareto, importance of focusing on one thing, focused tasking better than multitasking, 7 habits of highly effective people, and other references, NASA accomplishments using Agile).
    Will continue learning on Agile as it helps to apply these at work.
  • Anonymous
    All in all, it was a very informative course. Lot's of type-o's should be cleaned up before release due to them causing a distraction. The video's are packed full of information and are just long enough to retain the student's attention. I plan on completing all five courses and I understand that these courses will not make me an expert, but instead, will give me a very good understanding once put into practice. Overall, I highly recommend.
  • Profile image for Irfan Pathan
    Irfan Pathan
    The great course of all the time love it gives us a lot of knowledge about agile and sprint planning....
  • Profile image for Beata Wilczynska
    Beata Wilczynska
    The course describes main aspects of Sprint planning and explains how this way of planning speeds up the product/value delivery. Presented information is well structured and includes references to the concerned publications, i.e. it's guiding further self-studies. As a beginner in this area, I have received the necessary basic knowledge, as expecting.
  • Jesus Toledo Romero
    I loved the way the course was instructed and the balance between the lecture and the videos which makes the course dynamic and easy to follow. The instructor provides a set of examples that not only make a lot of sense but also fit really well the narrative.

    Overall a great course to improve Agile capabilities.
  • Anonymous
    Some good learnings here but I found the level of mistakes and missing content as against the quizzes frustrating. I’d still recommend the Agile Project Management program, which this course is a part of - but hope to see this course content reviewed and improved by the creators.
  • Profile image for Rebecca Shallow
    Rebecca Shallow
    The course is a nice balance of video instruction and notes. Interactivity is limited to Q&A and video watching, but still engaging enough as the content was right-sized for the course. It was a great refresher for other project management courses I had taken previously.
  • Anonymous
    Very recommended course for all the project managers that are actually searching how to boost their knowledge and expand their toolboox for planning in a more dynamic way. It shows the difference between traditional approaches and Agile approaches in a very compreehensive way
  • Anonymous
    Excellent course - lots of good concepts to take with me in my career and to share with my team! The practical tools gained through these lessons have already helped me approach project planning with my company in more meaningful and effective ways. Highly recommend!
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    This course was pretty good in terms of usable knowledge. However, the materials have some mistakes that seem to suggest the Univ of Maryland does not have good quality control mechanisms in place (e.g. type-os throughout the materials, sloppy or misleading langauge in slides, exams, etc.). I am surprised at how little attention UMD pays to this basic level of quality!
  • Anonymous
    The course was overall useful and instructive. The presentations, notes, and quizzes were less helpful for preparing for the exam than in some of the other courses. It is important that you review the external links to learn the material needed for the exam.
  • Anonymous
    I appreciate the opportunity to take this course, it has helped me a lot to change my way of thinking and to be more agile in planning new projects. Anyone who wants to be able to plan quickly and effectively should take the course. I recommend it.
  • Anonymous
    Solid course on sprint planning with good, short and engaging lectures and very solid materials for learners (eg. notes). However, I lacked more concrete examples of good and bad practices when planning a sprint (eg. from IT industry or similar).

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