Product Owner: Iteration 0

In most projects, before the first iteration of a release can be started, it is advisable to do some “pre-work”: Analysis to set up stories in the iteration, environment and tool configurations. This is called “Iteration 0” and may take up to 1.5 times the length of the other iterations.

Why to do this practice

Iteration 0 meetings are a conversation between stakeholders and the team before the first iteration of a release. This ensures the team is ready with people, process, and tools in order to begin making progress in iterations. It is a time for conversation about scope and requirement. They will revisit these during subsequent Iteration Planning Meetings.

Who does this practice

Here are roles involved in this practice:

  • Team Agility Coach, who is the facilitator of the demonstration
  • Product Owner, who is the usual facilitator for the Iteration 0 meeting. Usually, the Team Agility Coach is the one to arrange the logistics of the meeting. The Team Agility Coach is probably the one to document the guidance and insights gained in the meeting on behalf of the team.
  • Stakeholders as necessary (such as Product Manager, Business Owners, Subject Matter Experts)
  • Team Leads who act on behalf of the team

What to do


These should have been done much earlier (see relevant checklists):

  • Business Prioritized
    • Business value has been established
    • Prioritized (relative to other approved items)
    • Sequenced and approved to continue
  • Business Planning
    • MBIs are defined
    • MBIs are prioritized and sequenced based on ROI (relative to other approved items)
    • Technical feasibility has been assessed
    • MBIs are sized according to T-Shirt size
    • MBIs are approved to continue and Product Manager has been assigned
    • Business SME’s identified (and possibly Product Owner assigned)
  • Business Staging
    • MBI(s) have been refined
    • Features are defined and sequenced (based on Business value)
    • Acceptance criteria are defined for each feature
    • Business backlog has been established
    • Features are approved and sequenced to continue based on ROI (relative to other approved items)

These should have been done just before Iteration 0:

  • Ready to Pull
    • Product Manager and Product Owner are available
    • Business backlog is defined: features prioritized and estimated and high level architectural milestones are specified
    • Team(s) are identified and capacity is available
    • Required resources are available
    • Iteration 0 Facilitation plan is finished
    • Carry over stories from previous iterations, if any, are identified
    • Team velocity over past increments, if known.


  1. Introductions (even if team is relatively well established)
    • Who is on the team (roster and who is required)
    • Team(s) resources required
    • Review and define team environment: workflow, visual board, and policies for stories
  2. Identify technical components. Input them into team backlogs (technology features and/or stories)
  3. Review and define production documentation and artifacts
    • List the current production documentation maintained
  4. Review and define high level architecture and design
  5. Finalize feature sequence by Business value and technical discrepancies
  6. Identity any critical areas and dependencies that must be addressed for progress to be made
  7. Review and define complexity factors for relative sizing in story points
    • If there are problems or impediments, rank them, prioritize them, and identify stories to mitigate them.
  8. Confirm all items are complete in the Iteration 0 Checklist in Checklists.


Outputs from Iteration 0 include:

  • Backlogs for first few iterations
  • Training plans
  • Team logistics plans: resources, tools, environmental
  • Backlog of concerns and impediments for the Product Manager to address

When to do this practice

Here is when to do this practice:

Where to do this practice

Here is where to do this practice:

  • In a room that is convenient to the entire team


The benefits of this practice include:

  • Product Manager approves initiation of Iteration 0 activities
  • List of Product Manager action items compiled to assist completion of Business Discovery process and frequency of Business Discovery completeness re-evaluation The team is prepared with skills and tools to begin work on the iterations.
  • Stakeholders and team have communicated effectively about the objectives of the release and what is expected.
  • The team builds a sense of ownership for their processes.
  • Impediments to progress that are outside of the team’s control are naturally escalated to management and others who can do something about them.

The team will be able to answer these questions:

  • How do we know we are done planning?
  • What documents do we have?
  • What do we know?
  • How do we know we are ready for the first iteration?