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When Does a Sprint Conclude

By Miranda Dulin
Published in Inspect & Adapt
December 31, 2023
2 min read
When Does a Sprint Conclude

Extending Sprints is akin to toddlers evading sleep. Both bedtime rituals and Sprint cadences provide advantages. It’s self-sabotage to diverge from your routine.

When Does a Sprint Conclude

A Sprint concludes when the timebox expires, promoting iterative development and regular inspection and adaptation. However, investigating the repercussions of extending Sprint durations uncovers valuable lessons in commitment, adaptability, and effective Scrum implementation.

Misconceptions about Sprints are prevalent. Some assume a Sprint should only conclude upon completing the Sprint Goal or even the Sprint Backlog. This misunderstanding might prompt attempts to prolong a Sprint to accommodate additional Sprint scope.

Mario passing Yoshi in Mark Kart

The actual concept of Sprints resembles a time trial. We confine Product Backlog Items within a set timeframe, then step back to evaluate and learn from our experiences, aiming for continuous improvement and quick feedback.

Should you Extend Sprints?

Extending a Sprint is discouraged in Scrum as it disrupts the rhythm, impacts team morale, and challenges the core principles of iterative development. I’ve yet to encounter a valid justification for extending a Sprint, but there are many reasons not to.

Why Should You Avoid Extending a Sprint

Decreased Data Accuracy

The effectiveness of data, be it velocity, flow metrics, or other measures for feedback loops, gets compromised when collected over varying periods. Comparing such numbers becomes akin to comparing apples to oranges, impacting data accuracy and insights.

Delayed Feedback

Scrum is heavily based on empiricism. The primary purpose of ending a Sprint is to learn from the experience. Extending a Sprint is a lost opportunity for feedback and actionable learning.

Obfuscate Transparency

Like a stubborn toddler resisting bedtime, the inclination to extend a Sprint often masks an underlying issue within the Scrum team’s dynamics or process. Rather than addressing the root cause of incomplete tasks or unexpected hurdles, opting to extend the Sprint is akin to allowing this underlying dysfunction to persist, much like allowing a child to delay sleep. Just as a child’s reluctance to sleep can stem from various factors, the impulse to extend a Sprint might arise from poor estimation, unclear goals, ambiguous requirements, interruptions, or unforeseen impediments. Instead of prolonging the Sprint, addressing these underlying issues can correct the dysfunction, fostering a healthier and more efficient team dynamic. Embracing this approach ensures adherence to the established time frame and promotes a culture of continuous improvement and adaptability within the Scrum team.

Chaos of Moving Events

If you extend the Sprint, that likely means that you’d also want to delay the Sprint Review and Sprint Retrospective. Following the logic, we would also need to defer the Sprint Planning meeting for the future Sprint. Moving all these events around can wreak havoc on schedules. There are good odds that you won’t find a time when the Product Owner and key stakeholders can all be available on such short notice. Extending the time frame of a single Sprint creates a bunch of unjustified confusion.

Can Sprint Duration be Increased?

Changing the overall cadence of all future sprints is acceptable if the change is based on empirical insights or in the name of experimentation. However, most Scrum teams would benefit from shorter sprints, rather than longer, and should always keep the length to 4 weeks or less as recommended in the Scrum Guide.

Works Consulted


Similar to the benefits of a toddler’s regular bedtime routine—better health and easier mornings—consistency in Sprint conclusions brings advantages. Avoiding extended Sprints fosters better team adaptability, rhythm, and enhances predictability.


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Miranda Dulin

Miranda Dulin

Scrum Master

Table Of Contents

When Does a Sprint Conclude
Should you Extend Sprints?
Why Should You Avoid Extending a Sprint
Can Sprint Duration be Increased?
Works Consulted

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