Preparing to sprint (sprint zero)


Sprint zero prepares for the rest of the sprints. It sets up the physical and technical environment. See What is Sprint Zero? (

Sprint zero includes:

  • defining the minimum viable product
  • creating definitions of 'ready' and 'done' with the team
  • creating initial versions of business and technical documentation
  • preparing the product backlog
  • training, if people are new to Accelerate or agile techniques.


The aim of this stage is to:

  • preparing to sprint
  • set up the physical and technical environment.

Making sprint zero more effective

Sprint zero is made more effective by:

  • creating only the basic project structure, so that future sprints can add their value in an efficient way. This may require using research spikes (such as a prototype) to set development guides or investigate areas of complexity
  • minimising the amount of up-front design so that the design can emerge in future sprints
  • choosing a few critical stories and developing them to completion (this ensures sprint zero provides a completed product increment). Since these are the first, delivering them includes putting the skeleton/framework in place.



Actions which may be carried out during this stage include:

  1. Develop the initial version of the release plan, using a workshop and the user story map or service blueprint.
  2. If required, agree how to coordinate tasks and governance across agencies using either scrum of scrums or the Project Board.
  3. Draft the generic meeting calendar for the team to schedule the recurring meetings for Alpha.
  4. Complete a project initiation document.
  5. Complete an initial privacy assessment.
  6. Complete an initial assurance plan.
  7. Complete the initial service readiness and technical support documentation.
  8. Complete the initial benefits realisation plan.
  9. Update the benefits profile and plan.
  10. Establish the resources for Alpha:

○   the required tools

○   IT platforms and networks

  • establish access to:

○   team collaboration and test tools

○   version control tools and libraries

○   development and test environments

○   software release management tools.

11. Arrange Accelerate and agile training if necessary.

12. Select items for the initial product backlog from the product release board, user story map, and possibly from use cases.

13. Start sprint planning meetings by populating an initial sprint plan with some estimated items.

14. Arrange a workshop to document the team’s definition of done and definition of ready.

15. Develop initial documents for the benefits realisation profile, security review, test strategy, as-built documentation, and operations and support guides. These will be filled in for each release at the end of Alpha or Beta phases. These documents should include the key acceptance criteria for these documents, so they can be included in the sprint reviews.


The outputs from this stage include:

  • minimum viable product (MVP) documented and communicated to stakeholders
  • agreed and commonly understood definitions of ready and done
  • tailored governance, and operational impact assessments reflecting the lead agency
  • updated benefits profile and benefits plan
  • project initiation documentation
  • a project space
  • a technical platform for development, testing and release packaging
  • an initial product backlog
  • agreed and commonly understood definitions of ready and done
  • an initial security review document
  • an initial test strategy document
  • an initial as-built document
  • an initial operational support and service desk document
  • product release board describing the goal for the first release.

Tools and templates

Tools that may be helpful during this stage include:

  • product backlog
  • scrum of scrums
  • definition of ready
  • definition of done
  • defining the MVP
  • Accelerate readiness assessment
  • user stories
  • use case
  • generic meeting schedule.

For more information on these tools, please contact the Accelerate support team at

Page last updated: 13/04/2016