Tasks spanning across multiple sprints

Hi I have a workflow which uses an Agile-like approach of sprints (4-6 weeks) of work. Unfortunately certain tasks take longer than this but must be started early to finish on time. If I add a task in Sprint 1 that carries over to Sprint 5, this will push the finish date of Sprint 1 to Sprint 5.

I can't wait to start these tasks until sprint 5.

What is an good practice to manage tasks which span over multiple sprints while preserving these dates? Is there a term for this?

All the searches for anything with sprints found results with JIRA. We are not using JIRA!


  • Bassam Khalil
    Bassam Khalil ✭✭✭✭✭✭

    Hi @Eric1914,

    In Agile methodologies, particularly when you're using tools like Smartsheet instead of JIRA, managing tasks that span multiple sprints while keeping the sprint deadlines intact can indeed be challenging. However, there are strategies and best practices you can adopt to effectively manage these longer-term tasks. One approach is to break down the work into smaller, manageable pieces that can fit within individual sprints but are part of a larger "Epic" or "Feature" that spans across multiple sprints. Here's how to manage this:

    1. Use Epics or Features

    Definition: An Epic in Agile terminology is a large body of work that can be broken down into smaller tasks (stories or issues) that may span multiple sprints. Even if you're not using JIRA, this concept can still be applied.

    Application in Smartsheet:

    • Create an Epic: Define your long-term task as an Epic or Feature and outline the main goals.
    • Break Down into Stories: Divide the Epic into smaller, actionable items (stories) that can be completed within a single sprint. Each story should contribute towards the completion of the Epic.

    2. Implement a Rolling Wave Planning Approach

    Definition: Rolling Wave Planning is a form of progressive elaboration planning where the work to be accomplished in the near term is planned in detail, while work in the future is planned at a higher level.


    • Plan Detailed Tasks for the Next Sprint: Plan the tasks that you know need to start in Sprint 1 in detail.
    • Outline Future Tasks: For tasks in Sprint 5, have a higher-level plan that gets detailed as you approach the sprint.

    3. Track Progress with a Release Plan

    Release Plan: A release plan tracks the progress of Epics across sprints. It provides a roadmap for when certain pieces of the Epic need to be started and completed to meet the overall deadline.

    Application in Smartsheet:

    • Use a separate Smartsheet to plan and track your Epics and their corresponding tasks across sprints.
    • Visualize this with a Gantt chart to see how the Epic spans across multiple sprints without affecting the completion dates of individual sprints.

    4. Adjust Sprint Goals Accordingly

    Sprint Planning: Understand that not all sprints will deliver complete features. Some sprints might be focused on laying the groundwork for future features (tasks starting in Sprint 1 but ending in Sprint 5).

    Communication: Clearly communicate the purpose and goals of each sprint to the team, ensuring everyone understands that some sprints will include work that is part of a larger, longer-term goal.

    5. Regular Reviews and Adjustments

    Sprint Reviews: Use sprint reviews to assess progress on long-term tasks and make adjustments as needed. This is crucial for tasks that span multiple sprints.

    Retrospectives: After each sprint, hold a retrospective to discuss what went well and what could be improved, especially in managing long-term tasks.

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