The use of Timeboxing in the Agile projects | David Tzemach

Each Agile project is based on little upfront planning; this makes it more adaptive to changes but less predictable. The project must use a predictable schedule with small repeatable time-boxes to achieve a high productivity level.

A “Timebox” is an agreed and limited period used by a person/team to perform a dedicated activity. Once the Timebox is approved and set, the team/person works to complete a goal within this time. If the time ended without completing all the activities required, then how to continue will depend on the time-box approach (Soft Vs. Hard).


For example, let's take an Agile project with 100 units of work the team needs to deliver. The team velocity is completing five units every two weeks (The time box of the sprint). By knowing these essential factors, the organization can predict the completion of the project using a simple formula of timeboxing/velocity = twenty Sprints.



The difference between "soft" and "hard" timeboxing

There are two different approaches to handling the situation of uncompleted work at the end of a time box.

  • Soft Timebox – Once the time allocated elapses, the SM determines if to continue and allocate the time for it.

  • Hard Timebox – once the time allocated elapses, there is no room for discussion, and the team must stop their work regardless of the risks to the remaining work.

The use of timeboxing to manage Scrum events

Every Scrum event has its Timebox. This ensures that the team focuses on the meeting agenda instead of wasting precious time on irrelevant conversations. The following are some examples of events within Scrum:

  • Daily Scrum meeting – This meeting is time-boxed to 15 minutes every 24 hours.

  • Sprint Planning – Time-boxed to 2 hours every one-week sprint and can be extended to 8 hours for a one-month Sprint.

  • Sprint Review – Time-boxed to 1 hour every one-week sprint and may be extended to 4 hours for a one-month Sprint.

  • Sprint Retrospective – These meetings are time-boxed at 45 minutes per one-week sprint and may extend to 3 hours for a one-month Sprint.



How the use of timeboxing contributes to your project

There is no doubt that time boxing in Agile projects is vital for reasons discussed in previous sections. In addition, the use of time boxing can also contribute to the following:

  • Increases team focus – Because each activity is limited in time, the team knows that there is no time to waste on unnecessary activities that may affect their ability to deliver commitments on time.

  • Protects the Team – The use of time boxing allows the team to take only the amount of work they can deliver without affecting their ability to succeed.

  • Clarifies progress the use of time boxing enables us to determine the team's work progress throughout the Sprint. This is by consistently reviewing the work already completed and comparing it to the initial expectations.



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