At Grata, our agile sprint usually is about two weeks long but other companies may have longer or shorter sprints. A sprint is a time-boxed period of time in which work needs to be completed and ready for review.
Every sprint is usually planned before it begins and the team can commit to the work that goes into the sprint. The main purpose of the sprint is to deliver working code at the end.
Each sprint that is planned is expected to have a goal. It could be building out parts of a feature, focusing on bug fixes or more. Usually, the goal is a few sentences that describe what will be accomplished in the sprint. The product owner along with the development team will usually define the sprint goal.
Committing to a sprint goal is important because it helps the team to plan and focus on the objective that everyone will be working towards. Involving multiple people to determine what goes into the sprint, such as the development team, scrum master and product owner, helps makes the sprint go smoother. They achieve this by looking at the sprint backlog and priorities. After selecting tasks for the sprint, the team will put estimates to the tasks. These estimates are based on how much time they think it will take to complete each task.
The team will then determine if they can commit to the work planned for the sprint. It is important that each team member commits to the sprint and its goal. This way, they are accepting the responsibility and agreeing to work with each other in order to achieve the goal. It is very important that team members are honest towards their commitment. Everyone involved in the sprint are sharing the tasks and by committing to each other, it means they will help each other out where needed to get the tasks completed for the sprint.
Once a team has begun a sprint, it is best to check the estimates and velocity frequently. That way you can determine if it will be realistic to complete the work within the sprint.
Sometimes, even though a team commits to a deadline, they could fail on delivering. However, many times there are other factors involved such as over-commitment. While the team has agreed to do their best, it should never guarantee a deadline, since many unknowns can happen during a sprint. The most important thing is that they work towards finishing the tasks to the best of their ability and if any problems happen along the way they can learn from the negatives to do better the next time around.