What is the maximum Agile Sprint length?
The maximum length of an Agile sprint is one calendar month. The Scrum Guide states explicitly that a sprint cannot exceed a calendar month in length:
Sprints are fixed-length events of one month or less to create consistency.
One of the four key principles of the Agile Manifesto is that it’s better to respond to change than to follow a plan.
Agile practitioners recognize the fact that in the world of product development, conditions change quickly.
Time spent planning beyond a month into the future is time wasted. It’s impossible to predict how stakeholder expectations might change, or team dynamics might change beyond a timeline of 31 days or more. Agile practitioners prefer short sprint lengths for exactly that reason.
Reviews and retrospectives
Another principle of software development found in the Agile Manifesto is that Agile’s highest priority is:
…to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
An Agile sprint ends with a sprint review and a sprint retrospective meeting.
The purpose of the sprint review is to get working, usable software into the hands of the users so they can inspect, evaluate and provide feedback on it. Short Agile sprints of one month or less ensure that developers get regular feedback from the stakeholders and possibly even customers. This enables developers to adapt their plan quickly with any adjustments to satisfy the stakeholders’ needs.
The end of a sprint also includes a retrospective where the team discusses their processes and methodologies and suggests how to improve them in the next sprint. Short sprints support this type of team introspection on a regular basis as well.
Keep your Agile sprints short. A month or less is best. It’s the best way for a Agile practitioners to serve their customers, their stakeholders, their peers and themselves.