How product leads leverage the sprint cycle to meet client deadlines

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Deadlines are much like taxes — inevitable, stressful, and often dreaded. 

You may be all too familiar with the feeling of scrambling to meet client deadlines, working long hours, and drinking one too many cups of coffee. But missed deadlines can damage your agency’s reputation, affect future business, and ultimately impact your bottom line.

Yet, despite the high stakes, it’s common for project teams to struggle with keeping track of tasks, managing priorities, and meeting deadlines. As a product lead, it’s your responsibility to ensure that projects run smoothly, on schedule, and satisfy clients’ expectations.

So, how do you achieve this? The answer lies in a framework used by many successful agencies: the sprint cycle. But how can it help your agency plan and execute projects efficiently? Learn below.

What is a sprint cycle?

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A sprint cycle is a core practice of the Scrum framework, which helps team members deliver high-quality work consistently, meet deadlines, and adapt to changing requirements. It involves breaking down a project into short, time-boxed iterations called “sprints.”

During each sprint, the team focuses on completing specific tasks and producing a workable deliverable that it can demonstrate to stakeholders. 

The product development team can’t proceed to the next sprint until the previous one is completed, reviewed, and approved. It’s a continuous cycle that keeps projects on track, completes the product backlog items, and ensures the final product meets the client’s requirements.

What is the duration of a sprint cycle?

A scrum sprint cycle typically lasts one to four weeks and can’t exceed one calendar month. The time frame depends on the project’s complexity, scrum team capacity, and client needs. However, most agile teams find a balance between the two by opting for two-week sprint cycles.

For instance, a software development project may have a two-week sprint cycle to fix bugs, release new features, and improve user experience.

Team member roles in a sprint cycle

The Scrum Guide defines three core roles in a sprint cycle: product owner, scrum master, and development team. These roles can vary depending on your agency’s structure, but their core responsibilities remain the same in a scrum methodology.

  • Product owner/product lead: The key stakeholder and representative of the client’s interests. They set project goals, define priorities, and manage the product backlog (a list of features or tasks to be completed). The product owner has the final say on what the team should deliver in each sprint.

  • Scrum master: The facilitator of the scrum process. They ensure that the team follows scrum principles, organize and conduct sprint planning meetings, and remove any roadblocks or impediments that could delay the project’s progress.

  • Development team (DevOps): A self-organizing, cross-functional team (of developers, designers, testers, and other specialists) responsible for designing, developing, and delivering a working increment of the product in each sprint. 

The scrum process relies on the collaboration and accountability of these three roles to ensure your team delivers the project on time, within budget, and to client expectations. Misalignment between these roles can result in missed deadlines, scope creep, and — you guessed it — unhappy clients.

The stages of a sprint cycle

We’ve established that sprint cycles are time-boxed periods that allow teams to plan, execute, and deliver a specific set of tasks. But what does this process look like in practice? 

Sprint planning

This is the first stage of a sprint cycle, where the scrum team collaborates to plan the upcoming sprint. The goal is to identify and prioritize the most important tasks from the product backlog, estimate their effort, and allocate resources for the sprint. 

During the meeting, the scrum team answers the following questions:

  1. Why is the sprint valuable? The product owner discusses how the product can potentially increase value for the client and end-users in the current sprint. The team then defines a sprint goal, which is communicated and agreed upon by all members.

  2. What items can be delivered in the sprint? Developers, through a discussion with the product owner, pick high-value product backlog items they can complete within the sprint. It’s a challenging exercise, but developers use their experience, expertise, and data from previous sprints to set realistic goals.

  3. How will the selected product backlog items be delivered? The development team creates a detailed plan of increments to deliver the specified product backlog items. They break down tasks into smaller, manageable units called “user stories” and assign them to specific team members.

Daily scrum

The daily scrum (or daily standup meeting) is a brief, 15-minute meeting that occurs every day during the sprint cycle. The scrum master facilitates this meeting, ensuring everyone is on the same page and that there’s a shared understanding of what needs to be done in the upcoming sprint.

The development team gathers to discuss what they completed the previous day, what they plan to complete today, and any roadblocks or dependencies that may get in the way of their development process. This keeps teams aligned, identifies and resolves issues early on, and provides an opportunity to make necessary adjustments to meet the sprint goal.

Sprint review

At the end of the sprint, the scrum team presents the completed work to the product owner for review. The sprint review allows the product owner to provide feedback, ask questions, and make changes to the product backlog based on client needs. The team may adjust the sprint backlog to reflect any changes discussed during the review.

Sprint retrospective

“If you adopt only one agile practice, let it be retrospectives. Everything else will follow.” 

~Woody Zuill, Agile coach

The final stage of a sprint cycle is the sprint retrospective meeting, where the team reflects on their process and identifies ways to improve in future sprints. This includes discussing what worked well (and what didn’t), issues or challenges during the sprint, how the team addressed the problems, and what the team can do differently next time.

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How do sprint cycles help in project planning and execution?

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And now, the elephant in the room: How do sprint cycles help product leads and agencies streamline product management workflows and meet client deadlines? Let’s break it down.

Iterative and incremental development

Scrum projects are built on the principle of iterative and incremental development. Instead of working toward a final, polished product in one go, the team delivers working increments of the product in each sprint. 

This allows for continuous feedback and tweaks, ensuring that the final product meets client expectations and needs — and preventing costly reworks or delays.

Clear milestones

Successful project management needs clear, achievable milestones for your team to work toward. Sprint cycles provide precisely that: a series of well-defined sprints with specific goals and tasks to complete, start and end dates, and a shared understanding of what needs to be done. 

Milestones serve as checkpoints to monitor progress, identify any issues on the project lifecycle early on, and make necessary adjustments to meet the sprint goal.

Continuous feedback and improvement

“If a bug was addressed on the day it was created, it would take an hour to fix. Three weeks later, it would take 24 hours. It didn’t even matter if the bug was big or small, complicated or simple — it always took 24 times longer three weeks later.” 

~Jeff Sutherland, in Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time

Through the daily scrum, sprint review, and retrospective meetings, a sprint cycle provides regular opportunities for feedback and improvement. This is helpful for backlog refinement and prioritization, identifying any obstacles or delays, and fostering a culture of continuous learning and improvement within the team.

Transparency and flexibility 

With clear goals, tasks, and timelines set at the beginning of each sprint, everyone on the team knows what needs to be accomplished and by when. This creates a sense of accountability and encourages collaboration across different roles. 

Product leads can make more informed decisions on resource allocation, budget, and scope changes based on the amount of work completed in each sprint. If priorities shift or new information arises, the team can adjust their plans accordingly and still meet client deadlines.

Best practices for successful sprint cycles 

Incorporating sprint cycles into your project management process is a great way to boost productivity, meet deadlines, and deliver successful projects for your clients. Get started with these best practices:

1. Understand the client’s needs

You can’t deliver a successful project if you don’t understand your client’s needs. To do this,  you’ll need to gather and analyze their requirements, expectations, and preferences so your agency can align project work with their vision. Product leads can achieve this by:

  • Conducting thorough client interviews

  • Creating detailed project briefs

  • Closely collaborating with the product owner to prioritize backlog items

This ensures the team works toward a shared goal and minimizes the risk of scope creep or misaligned expectations later on.

2. Align sprint goals with client objectives

Sprint goals should align closely with these client objectives to ensure the development work is valuable and relevant to the project’s overall purpose. Product leads must involve the product owner in backlog refinement and prioritization, regularly communicate progress and changes, and use the sprint review to gather feedback from the client on their satisfaction with the project’s direction.

3. Plan and manage tasks with a project management platform 

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Project management software can significantly improve organization and efficiency in sprint cycles by providing a central hub for all project-related tasks, communication, and collaboration. You can:

  • Create and assign tasks.

  • Set deadlines.

  • Track progress.

  • Share files and updates.

  • Communicate with team members in real time.

This eliminates confusion, ensures accountability, and prevents delays caused by miscommunication or disorganization. is a leading project management platform that offers a range of features designed for agile project management — including sprint planning and tracking. 

With’s intuitive interface, customizable task list functionality, Gantt charts for visualizing project timelines, and real-time collaboration tools like chat and comments, product leads can effectively plan and manage tasks within sprint cycles. also integrates with tools like Jira for seamless workflow management, automates repetitive tasks, and provides insightful reports for better decision-making.

4. Maintain open and regular communication channels with the client

Effective sprint cycles require open and regular communication with clients for maximum transparency, alignment, and satisfaction. Product leads should establish clear lines of communication with their clients, setting expectations on how and when they’ll get updates and feedback. 

Regular check-ins (through email or phone calls), status reports, and demos during the sprint review allow clients to voice their concerns, provide feedback, and ask questions. facilitates strong client communication by providing a centralized platform for all project-related communication and updates. Team members can easily share project progress, updates, and files with clients through in-app messaging, real-time commenting on tasks and files, and status updates. 

It’s also easy to invite clients to collaborate. They can then access the platform to view project progress, provide feedback, and track changes made by the team — fostering a collaborative and transparent relationship and leading to better project outcomes.

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5. Monitor progress closely

Constantly monitoring progress within sprints helps teams to identify issues early on and take corrective action. Network diagrams, Gantt charts, and burn-down charts are helpful tools for tracking progress, identifying roadblocks, and forecasting project completion dates. Product leads can use these tools during daily scrum meetings to:

  • Visualize tasks and their dependencies.

  • Determine if the team is on track to meet deadlines.

  • Identify any bottlenecks that need to be addressed.

This allows for proactive problem-solving and minimizes the risk of delays or missed deadlines.

6. Strive for continuous improvement 

Continuous improvement is a key aspect of agile sprint cycles. By consistently reflecting on past performance and making small, incremental changes to processes, teams can continuously improve and deliver higher-quality projects. 

Product leads can cultivate a culture of learning and growth within their teams by:

  • Encouraging open and honest communication and feedback among team members

  • Investing in continuous training and development opportunities for team members to enhance their skills and knowledge

  • Actively seeking out new tools, techniques, and methodologies to improve project management processes

Teams that embrace continuous improvement are better equipped to handle changes and challenges, deliver high-quality projects, and meet client deadlines effectively.

Manage your sprint cycles effortlessly with

Sprint cycles are effective tools for meeting client deadlines and delivering successful projects on time and within budget. 

Product leads in professional services agencies can leverage the scrum sprint cycle by setting clear objectives, using project management platforms for efficient task planning and tracking, maintaining open communication channels with clients, closely monitoring progress, and continuously improving processes. 

With its extensive features, seamless integration, and focus on collaboration and transparency, is the perfect tool to help agencies deliver high-quality projects within tight deadlines. 

Sign up for a free trial today and transform your sprint cycles for better project outcomes!

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