What are Sprint Zero and Spikes?

In this post, we are going to discuss – what are Sprint Zero and Spikes? Both these Sprints have become very popular in the Enterprises today (read real-life scenarios). Not surprising that you may face this question in the interviews.

What is Sprint Zero?

Sprint Zero is the iteration that is used to get prepared for the project execution. It is certainly not part of Scrum rule books but has gained popularity.

Everyone does not support sprint Zero. That’s because it does not produce any output, which is shippable. Sprints always target a shippable output.

Sprint Zero is used for the following reasons. This is just an indicative list.

  • Acquiring servers or hardware resources for the project
  • Assembling the team
  • Developing the initial backlog items (A few stories)
  • Application Architecture design

To sum it up, Sprint Zero is used to get ready for the project. However, sprint Zero is not a planning sprint as has also been pointed out by Ken Schwaber:

“Sprint 0 has become a phrase misused to describe the planning that occurs prior to the first sprint”.


Mike Cohn of MountainGoat suggests to treat Sprint Zero as a project rather than a sprint to avoid all confusions in his Article – Sprint Zero: A Good Idea or Not?

What is a Spike?

Agile alliance defines Spike as

A task aimed at answering a question or gathering information, rather than at producing shippable product.


It is not uncommon to create proof of concept (POC) or feasibility study or even research to estimate a user story correctly. A spike is created to conduct the task so that we can do the estimation correctly.

Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK) suggests that Spikes are time-boxed activities that have clear objectives and desired outcomes.

Spikes are often technical and may be done to prototype a solution approach to the feature. This technique allows delivery teams to learn how to deliver a working product effectively and efficiently.

As per BABOK, Spikes can be of three types:

  • Functional: Analyses a story by decomposing it and identifying risks
  • Technical: determines the feasibility or impact of a story or task to understand the technical design necessary.
  • Exploratory: explores organisational risks or impacts for a particular story.

What’s Next?

In this post, we talked about what are Sprint Zero and Spikes. You can read more Business Analyst interview questions and answers.

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Business Analyst interview questions and answers book

Abhishek Srivastava

Abhishek Srivastava is a seasoned IT professional with diverse experience in Banking, Insurance, Utility and Education domains. Managing large accounts, Program management & Developing business solutions has been his forte.An NIT / IIM Kozhikode graduate, He founded Techcanvass (https://techcanvass.com) in 2013. With Techcanvass, He is pursuing his dream of creating an organization imparting quality education to IT professionals. He believes that learning is a lifelong journey and one must never stop learning.He also loves writing and sharing his knowledge. Some of his notable books are ERP to E2RP, UML Modelling for Business Analysts, Business Analysts Practitioners Guide, Software Testing: A practical Approach. All these books are available on Amazon.

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