How to write a sprint goal (with examples)

Written by 
Bryan Kitch
April 30, 2024
An image of an Agile team in an office setting during a planning session
How to write a sprint goal (with examples)
Written by 
Bryan Kitch
April 30, 2024

Setting sprint goals is like writing clues for a scavenger hunt: too much detail can bog people down, while too little leaves participants lost in the wilderness. 

Writing effective sprint goals isn’t just a checkbox on the list — it requires precision, clarity, and alignment with the overarching project vision.

That’s why we’ve compiled this quick guide for you on how to write a sprint goal, with everything from simple examples to ready-to-use templates.

What is a sprint goal?

A sprint goal is a concise description of what your team aims to achieve during a specific project within an agile development framework, such as Scrum. It serves as a guiding principle for your team throughout the sprint, providing clarity and direction for their work.

Good sprint goals represent the desired outcome or result rather than a list of specific tasks or features to implement.

You should answer these questions: 

  • What is your team working towards?
  • How will you and your customers benefit by completing the sprint backlog?
  • What do stakeholders gain by helping your team in their efforts?

Sprint goals typically involve collaboration between the product owner, the scrum master, and the development team during sprint planning meetings.

For more background on Agile methodology, see our definitive guide to Agile project management.

5 best practices to write effective sprint goals

Follow these five best practices to create a sprint goal that clarifies your vision and aligns your team with your business priorities.

1. Identify the purpose of the sprint

It sounds obvious, but, before you get started, you’ve got to know why you’re here (i.e., what’s the overarching goal of this sprint?). Once you’ve defined the purpose of your sprint goal, your team members will better understand what you’re trying to achieve, the value you want to deliver, and the expected outcome.

You should provide a clear answer to why the work matters and establish a link between the tasks at hand and the larger mission of your team and organization. If the goal lacks clarity or relevance, it can lead to disengagement, decreased productivity, and a sense of misalignment (or even apathy) within the team.

Here are sprint goal examples with and without purpose:

  • Without: Develop new features for the website.
  • With: Deliver a minimum viable product (MVP) feature that enhances user experience by streamlining the checkout process, thus increasing customer satisfaction and retention.

2. Define sprint goals with your team

Setting sprint goals with your team is all about workspace collaboration and teamwork. Mural’s 2024 Teamwork Research Report found that  66% — yes, almost two thirds (!) — of knowledge workers aren’t very happy with how their teams work together.

Instead of just having the product owner or scrum master dictate what the sprint should be, everyone on the team should have a say in shaping it.

Sure, there might be times when there's pressure from stakeholders to rush and set a goal quickly. But if the team doesn't feel like they have a hand in creating the goal, it can lead to a lack of ownership. And trust me, when the team doesn't feel invested in the goal, it can really take the wind out of their sails (insert Sailboat Retrospective joke here ;) — but seriously here’s a template just in case).

That's why it's important to make sure everyone's voice is heard in deciding the goal. When you involve the whole team, you're not just setting a goal but building a sense of shared purpose and commitment.

Related: How to set effective team goals (with examples)

Examples of sprint goals with and without collaborating with the team:

  • Without: Improve website performance by optimizing backend code and database queries.
  • With: Enhance website performance by optimizing backend code and database queries to reduce page load times by 20%, addressing identified pain points highlighted by the development team, and aligning with user feedback gathered from customer support interactions.

3. Use the SMART criteria

Applying the SMART criteria makes sure the goals are specific (clear and precise), measurable (quantifiable), achievable (realistic and attainable), relevant (aligned with broader objectives), and time-bound (with a defined timeframe for completion). This approach ensures your goals are aligned with the product vision, have clear deadlines, and are easy to measure during the sprint review process.

Sprint goal examples with and without using the SMART method:

  • Without: Enhance the website.
  • With: Reduce website loading time by 20% within two weeks to enhance user experience and decrease bounce rates.

4. Ensure alignment with product vision

While defining your goals, it's easy to get caught up in the details of what needs to be accomplished within the sprint timeframe. Even though the sprint may focus on a specific aspect of development or improvement, it should ultimately contribute to the overarching vision for the product

For example, if the product vision is to become the market leader in user-friendly software solutions, good sprint goals should contribute to enhancing customer experience or simplifying workflows. This approach helps maintain focus, drive progress, and ensure that your team's efforts are consistently moving the product forward.

Let’s look at sprint goal examples with and without aligning with product vision:

  • Without: Develop new login features for the website.
  • With: Enhance user authentication process to improve security and streamline user experience, aligning with our product vision of providing a seamless and secure platform for our users.

5. Consider the user or business

An effective sprint focuses on creating value for the end user, positively impacting your business's bottom line. Improving the customer experience has increased sales revenue by 2-7% and profitability by 1-2%, per McKinsey

Skip generic statements like "because it helps the marketing team" or "because it increases profit." While they may be true, they lack specificity and don’t get across how exactly your goal translates into value for your customers.

Examples of sprint goals with and without considering the user or business:

  • Without: Implement new backend infrastructure to improve database performance.
  • With: Optimize backend infrastructure to reduce page loading times by 30%, enhancing user experience and increasing customer satisfaction.
Related: Agile documentation: Examples and best practices

Run successful sprints with Mural’s free templates

With Mural's free template library, you don’t have to worry about learning how to write a sprint goal from scratch. Our platform makes it easy for you to document key takeaways, lessons learned, and action items. 

Use the Mural's free sprint planning template to get an infinite canvas and pre-built areas to gather your ideas and feedback in one spot. With our voting, commenting, and annotation features, you keep the conversation flowing and the ideas coming.

An image of the Mural Sprint Planning template
Get the Mural Sprint Planning template here

Get started with Mural for free to run Agile sprints collaboratively with your team.

About the authors

About the authors

Bryan Kitch

Bryan Kitch

Content Marketing Manager
Bryan is a Content Marketing Manager @ MURAL. When he's not writing or working on content strategy, you can usually find him outdoors.