Should Team Members Sign Up for Tasks During Sprint Planning?

During sprint planning, a team selects a set of product backlog items they will work on during the coming sprint. As part of doing this, most teams will also identify a list of the tasks to be performed to complete those product backlog items.

Many teams will also provide rough estimates of the effort involved in each task. Collectively, these artifacts are the sprint backlog and could be presented along the following lines:

Table of User and Member Tasks and Hours

One issue for teams to address is whether individuals should sign up for tasks during sprint planning.

If a team walks out of sprint planning with a name next to every task, individual accountability will definitely be increased. I will feel more responsibility to finish the tasks with my name or initials next to them. And you will feel the same for those with yours. But, this will come at the expense of team accountability.

My recommendation is that a team should leave sprint planning without having put names on tasks. Following a real-time sign-up strategy will allow more flexibility during the sprint.

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Mike Cohn

About the Author

Mike Cohn specializes in helping companies adopt and improve their use of agile processes and techniques to build extremely high-performance teams. He is the author of User Stories Applied for Agile Software Development, Agile Estimating and Planning, and Succeeding with Agile as well as the Better User Stories video course. Mike is a founding member of the Agile Alliance and Scrum Alliance and can be reached at If you want to succeed with agile, you can also have Mike email you a short tip each week.

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