What is a hardening Sprint

What is a Hardening Sprint?

In this post, I am going to answer the question – What is a hardening sprint? Why may it be necessary for some scenarios? And what do Agile purists say about this sprint?

What is a hardening sprint?

A hardening sprint is used by Quality teams to finalise a product for release.  This often requires project team to stop working on any new features. All available resources are deployed to stabilising the release.

It is not part of any Agile frameworks, so many experts feel it is a bad practice. Chris Wright states in SmartBear’s getZephyr blog

The concept of a hardening sprint shares a lot in common with the mindset that underlies waterfall methods. The mere presence of such a task could perpetuate the notion that testing is ultimately something that is done at the end of a production cycle.

Karen Greaves and Kelley Cooper in a blog post on AgileAlliance.org, believe that a hardening sprint is a sign that the teams are not performing Agile testing appropriately.

When is this required?

Many Agile Practitioners and purists don’t support the concept of hardening sprint. They believe it to be a wrong practice. However, it may be necessary in some cases. I list down these scenarios below:

  • Agile teams target a potentially shippable code every sprint. In a situation where two applications share a database partially or fully. The team is developing features for one of the applications every sprint. But they want to make sure that they have not messed up with other applications. In this case, they may need this hardening sprint to test the other applications.
  • A team is developing code for a key application feature/workflow. The regression testing needs a lot of time and may not be feasible to complete the testing in each sprint. So a hardening sprint can be planned every two-three sprints for regression testing so that the deployment can happen on production.

Read Also: What is Technical Debt?

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