Obviously if the product owner judges solely based on whether the committed stories were done, it wouldn't be good, because then the team will just commit to fewer stories next Sprint. On the other hand if the team made a tremendous job and overcame huge technical problems, but the commitments were not met, its also not good.

I think that some measure is needed though, because if there is no feedback from the product owner, the team doesn't know what to improve, if at all. So what, in your opinion, are the criteria for the success of the Sprint?

  • 3
    Could you re-phrase your question to make it less opinion-based?
    – mhr
    Feb 12, 2014 at 6:57
  • This cannot be captured in a score. The product owner could talk about how the developed features are used in production.
    – MrFox
    Feb 12, 2014 at 14:54

4 Answers 4


The question contains the answer. There is no simplistic metric that will encapsulate all the realities of development down into a straight decision of success/failure. The whole point of having a sprint retrospective is for all concerned to reflect on whether the sprint was a success, given all the factors that came into play, and what could be improved in the next one.


The whole point of a sprint is to complete tasks.

So from a purely "have we done everything" point of view, success is easy to define. You did, or you did not complete all the tasks.

However it is not as simple as that.

Stuff happens. People go off sick, technical problems arise, people are fallible and estimates might be wrong.


One could simply say that a successful Sprint is one that has met its goal :

Sprint Goal

The Sprint Goal is an objective set for the Sprint that can be met through the implementation of Product Backlog. It provides guidance to the Development Team on why it is building the Increment. It is created during the Sprint Planning meeting. The Sprint Goal gives the Development Team some flexibility regarding the functionality implemented within the Sprint. The selected Product Backlog items deliver one coherent function, which can be the Sprint Goal. The Sprint Goal can be any other coherence that causes the Development Team to work together rather than on separate initiatives. (From the Scrum Guide)

The Sprint Goal is a first level of guidance for the Product Owner and development team. But based on that goal, the Scrum team could also perfectly agree on more detailed success criteria for the coming sprint. Typical (usually implicit) ones include completing all the stories, making all acceptance tests pass, but there could also be more exogenous indicators : customer satisfaction rate after a demo, budget obtained, CEO adhesion, performance minimums reached, etc.

As others have said, I think the answer to your question is : there are no predefined universal sprint success metrics. Success criteria primarily depend on strategic business goals of the moment and should preferably be agreed upon before the sprint starts, through the definition of a Sprint Goal and/or more precise sub-objectives.


On the one hand there's the retrospective. All or most of the tasks defined in the retrospective must be ticked as done (the definition of done is defined by the team). The pending task(s) should be included in the retrospective of the next Sprint.

On the other hand there are the Sprint stories. If most of the stories are considered as done (that includes demos to the stakeholders, when relevant) when a Sprint is finished then I would consider the Sprint successful. If the majority of the stories are not completed then something is going wrong and the team must make sure that it will take actions to avoid that issue in the next Sprint.

  • 1
    I wouldn't consider a Sprint successful if most of the stories were completed. ALL committed stories must be completed.
    – Eugene
    Feb 12, 2014 at 12:17
  • @Eugene Sometimes a task of a story (eg. 1 out of 5 tasks of that story) does not fit in the current Sprint and needs to be moved to the next. Would you consider that Sprint a failure?
    – sakisk
    Feb 12, 2014 at 13:08

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