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Should You Aim to Complete All Planned Tasks Within a Sprint?

Many people expect Scrum Teams to complete all the tasks planned during Sprint Planning. However, this only happens occasionally in reality. Even if a team works diligently and completes everything as scheduled once, it can be challenging to maintain that pace. Therefore, it is reasonable to question whether delivering all planned tasks in each Sprint is possible.


According to the Agile Manifesto, plans may not always go as expected, and the most important thing is to respond to change. So, it shouldn't be surprising that teams often finish less than 100% of what was planned.


Scrum proposes that teams learn to estimate better with each Sprint, as they will gain more knowledge about people, technology, working methods, and other factors over time. Therefore, Sprint after Sprint, teams must improve their estimates.

Some sources of uncertainty prevent teams from learning from the context

So why don't we see improvements in real-world scenarios? Some sources of uncertainty prevent teams from learning from the context and therefore being able to estimate better. The most frequent ones I've seen in recent years are:

  • Lack of talent: If teams have limited experience or are unprepared, they must learn, make more mistakes, and take longer to complete tasks.

  • Technical debt: If the technology is old, chaotic, or disorganized, it will be difficult for teams to estimate correctly because they constantly face technological surprises.

  • Lack of automation: If the team relies on manual processes, they will inevitably make estimation errors due to delays and human errors.

  • Everything is a priority: Priorities may change, but if everything is considered a priority in the present, the team may become overwhelmed with requests and experience increased delays.

  • Sea of dependencies: If your application relies on many external dependencies and the team does not work on technical solutions to minimize the impact of the uncertainty that comes with those dependencies, it will be vulnerable to other problems.

  • Pointless bureaucracy: The impact of bureaucracy is always unpredictable and much worse if it doesn't add value to teams. Therefore, excessive bureaucracy increases uncertainty.

In conclusion, should you aim to complete all planned user stories within a sprint? The answer is: "Not necessarily for every sprint," since unforeseen events may affect planning.


If there is a significant difference between estimated and actual results, reviewing the sources of uncertainty that affect your team is essential. Then, propose measures to solve the challenges within your organization.

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