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What is Scrum capacity – some details and explanation

At the start of every Sprint, there is a Sprint planning session where the Product Owner presents a collection of User Stories to the team along with a priority, and then a further estimation of these tasks (with the team working with the Product Owner to review the User Stories, and based on this discussion and prioritization of the tasks, the team would do an estimation of these tasks). But to determine the number of user stories that can be completed during the Sprint, it is essential that the total time available for the team to commit to work in the Sprint cycle is estimated, and this is know as Scrum capacity.
It is very easy to calculate the theoretical capacity of the team for a Sprint cycle; all you need to do is take the time that is available for the team during the Sprint cycle (time available per day * total number of team members * total numbers of days per Sprint cycle). So if the Sprint cycle is 20 working days (4 weeks), and there are a total of 7 team members, then the total capacity of the team is 20 * 7 * 8 (which is the 8 hours per day available for a team member).
However, in reality, there are some factors that need to be added in such a calculation for capacity, such as:
– One needs to be totally realistic about the amount of time that people can actually work dedicated per day. There are other things that could take some time from a person on a regular basis, such as meetings, discussions, email follow-up, and if the effort for these are not included in the task estimates (which is not done in most cases), then the effort available per person per day needs to be reduced (one suggestion is to have 5-6 hours per day as the amount of time available for calculating capacity)
– Vacation and time off needs to be incorporated. It is necessary to estimate the amount of time that a person will not be available for work during the Sprint cycle, and one easy way is to create a Story that tracks vacation, and ensure that this story adds all the planned vacation that people will take. It will need to have top priority.
– Tracking the past history in terms of the amount of actual effort put in during previous Sprint cycles and using these effort as the basis for actual capacity.

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