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Scrum Meetings

As a scrum coach, there is the need to revisit the basis of scrum to gain an understanding beyond simply the scrum guide.  I have summarized below what I have coached the Development teams and Product Owner to practice when it comes to the scrum meetings.

Daily Scrum

Before 2017 update, the scrum guide stated that the Development Team should answer three questions: 

  1. What did you do since the last daily scrum?

  2. What are you going to do before the next daily scrum?

  3. Any Impediments?

 It is an event that is time-boxed for 15mins and happens at the same time and same place every day of the Sprint. Though the three questions are no longer recommended in the 2019 updated version, you can still use a variation to guide the development team depending on the progress made by the team during the Sprint.

Daily scrums are effective when they happen daily. It should be a just-in-time planning, meaning Development team should:

  1. Be looking only 24hours ahead and reflecting on the last 24hours

  2. Surfacing anything that is or will slow them down

  3. Asking and giving help within the team

  4. Holding one another accountable for achieving the sprint goal

  5. Creating awareness on the progress of the Sprint

  6. Working towards a common goal not a collection of individuals working on specialized tasks

Benefits of Daily Scrum

  1. The scrum team agrees on the progress of the sprint goal

  2. Every Development team member re-forecast the completion of the sprint backlog

  3. Impediments are surfaced and revolved in an efficient and prompt manner

  4. The team practices Transparency.

  5. The development Team reaffirms ownership of the sprint backlog.

Here is a link to my presentation at AgileTDUSA 2019 on Daily scrum: foster teamwork with just in time planning.

Sprint Planning

Sprint planning is a maximum of 8 hours for a four-week sprint. This meeting signifies the start of the Sprint, and according to the Scrum guide, the Development teams answer two answers:

  1. What they can deliver in the increment resulting from the upcoming Sprint

  2. How the work needed to deliver an increment will be achieved

Sprint planning lays the groundwork for the Sprint. Its success is fundamental to the Development team delivering a working software come the end of Sprint. 

If the team did a brilliant job with the Backlog refinement, the sprint planning should only last 1hour for a two-week sprint unless you have a new scrum team still at the calibrating stage.

You know you are doing the sprint planning right if:

  1. The Development team has prior knowledge of the product backlog items

  2. The Development teams engage in tactical discussing on how to execute the work items

  3. There is a plan on how to execute the sprint work and sprint backlog as an outcome of the meeting

  4. The result of the meeting is a sprint goal and sprint backlog

  5. Sprint results in an incremental working software

Benefits of Sprint Planning

  1. Enables task discovery, sign up, prioritization and estimation

  2. Development team to start a new sprint with a shared understanding of what they will work in increment during the Sprint.

  3. As a self-organized team, team members pull work items in the current Sprint based on their capabilities and estimations.

Backlog Refinement

The scrum guide is silent on how often the Backlog refinement but suggested it should not consume more than 10% of the team’s capacity.

Backlog refinement is an avenue for the product owner, development team and other stakeholders to review backlog items to ensure it is ready to be pulled into the future sprints. This activity is weekly and should be scheduled as an ongoing activity and cancelled by the product owner if need be. This meeting should not be too far out from the intended Sprint. When the Development Team struggles to remember what they earlier refined, the Product Owner needs to pause on the refinement of the backlog.

Backlog refinement if done efficient should:

  1. Remove user stories that no longer appear relevant

  2. Discuss new user stories in response to newly discovered needs

  3. Re-assess the relative priority of stories

  4. Assign estimates to stories as deemed fit

  5. Split user stories to fit in an upcoming sprint, observe the 8/80 rule for completing a user story.

Benefits of Backlog Refinement

  1. The backlog remains populated with relevant items, 

  2. Product backlog items are refined, detailed and estimated to a degree appropriate to their priority.

  3. A streamlined backlog that adds value to the business

Sprint review

According to the scrum guide, sprint review, and end of the Sprint event, is an avenue to inspect the increment and adapt the Product Backlog if needed. During the meeting, The Scrum Team and stakeholders collaborate about what they did in the Sprint. The outcome of the Sprint Review is a revised Product Backlog that defines the probable Product Backlog items for future Sprints.

The best Sprint review impacts what occurs in the following sprints. Sprint Reviews, when done right, foster the spirit of continuous improvement that is contagious. Sprint review should be plug and play meaning:

  1. Features should just “work”

  2. No presentation or undue force

  3. Demo the work in an environment as close to production as possible.

  4. Feedback loop to gain stakeholders’ comment on the product needs

  5. Reflect on the new features update the product backlog items

  6. It should be one hour or less on the last day of Sprint before the Sprint Retrospective

Benefits of the Sprint review

Helps the team to:

  1. Build and maintain trust with customers and stakeholders

  2. Identify risks and issues

  3. Gather feedback

  4. Showcase work completed

  5. Stop and determine whether the project is on the right track

  6. Determine the project is still maintaining the right business values

Sprint Retrospective 

The Scrum Guide describes the Sprint Retrospective as a chance for the Scrum Team to inspect and create a plan for improvements to the next or future Sprints. A typical Sprint Retrospective answers the following questions:

  1. What when well during the Sprint?

  2. What could the team improve?

  3. What are the actionable items for the team?

The Sprint Retrospective, end of sprint event occurs after the Sprint Review and before the next Sprint Planning. However, Retrospectives are often one of the scrum elements to get dumped by the scrum team when work pressure mounts.

Retrospectives are not easy but when done correctly it,

  1. Has everyone participating in inspecting how the Sprint went with regards to people, relationships, process, and tools. 

  2. Has lots of fun activity that drives change and adds value to the team.

  3. The Scrum Team creates a plan for implementing improvements identified. 

  4. The scrum team owns the changes and build confidence through small changes.

Benefits of Sprint Retrospective

  1. A formal opportunity to focus on inspection and adaptation.

  2. Platform to celebrate success and ponder upon lessons in the Sprint

  3. Scrum teams own their choices and actions, creating a fantastic feeling of empowerment.

  4. The team strives to change behaviour over time- one Sprint on time.

Here are the slides to some of Liberating Structures techniques presented at a meetup that can help with improving your Scrum Meetings.

I love to read your comments, what have you tried with your teams? Share in the comment box below.


Scrum Guide | Scrum Guides.

Image:Volker Glaeser

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