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The Beginners Guide to Scrum Meetings and Best Practices
Meetings are an important way for teams to share necessary information. It’s the backbone of project management and helps to keep things progressing smoothly.
Scrum meetings are considered to be a great way to collect information and gain feedback from development, management, and stakeholders. These types of meetings are held often and are face-to-face meetings – including virtual meetings.
The idea of frequent meetings might not sound appealing to all team members but the Scrum framework is tried and tested. It is an Agile framework and is an important component of the sixth principle of the Agile manifesto.
“The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.”
There are 5 types of “Scrum ceremonies” (in layman’s terms – it’s a meeting) that this article will share with you alongside some best practices to get the most out of your team.
What Are the Types of Scrum Meetings?
Scrum is one of the methodologies development teams use which is based on the Agile framework. (Kanban is another popular style businesses can use.)
Agile is an entire framework and step-by-step process of approaching software development, although it can be used in a wide range of industries. Development teams that utilize an Agile methodology break their process into smaller chunks known as Sprints. Traditional methods would usually complete the project from start to finish,
Scrum meetings are held frequently during the development process so teams can reflect on their progress and streamline their process for future sprints.
There are 5 types of Scrum meetings and they all promote open communication between the team. Here’s are the different types you can use.
- Sprint planning
- Daily scrum
- Sprint review
- Sprint retrospective
- Backlog refinement
The goal for each of these types of Sprints is to aid the development team with their goals and understand the objectives set out in the Sprint meetings. Below is a detailed look at each type and how they will benefit project development.
At the start of each Sprint, there should be a long meeting held to set out the objectives for this particular sprint. This meeting should be two hours for every week in the Sprint.
For example, if you are breaking Sprints down into two-week blocks, this initial meeting should last four hours.
The whole team should be present for this meeting including the development team, product owner, and the Scrum Master. The project owner needs to be present so they can address any ambiguities and cover the backlog of tasks the development team will be working on.
The Scrum Master’s role is to ensure that the agile principles are being followed. They are not the project leader or solely responsible for the output.
Sprint planning meetings should be collaborative in nature with the project owner sharing the backlog tasks and the companies goals for the upcoming Sprint. The development team should then predict how much work can be completed during this Sprint.
During this phase of the meeting, the team can discuss maximum or fixed times for upcoming tasks. A Sprint planning meeting should be consist of these phases:
1. The scope and size of the upcoming sprint.
2. An overall plan for how and when tasks will be delivered
This meeting should be used to make sure the development team knows exactly what is expected of them. The product owner and Scrum Master should support the team with any questions about ambiguities and the expectations that are being set.
The daily scrum is a very short meeting that happens every day. It’s sometimes referred to as the daily standup because this meeting often happens while standing.
The meeting is hosted by the Scrum Master whose role is to ensure the project is running smoothly and the principles of the Agile Framework are being followed.
The idea of daily meetings might sound extreme but these short 15 minute meetings play a vital role in the project development. It’s usual for this meeting to be the first one of the day but it can be held at any time. It works best, however, when it happens in the same block of time each day.
The goal of this meeting is for each team member to be able to answer the following three questions:
1. What work did they complete yesterday?
2. What work will they be doing today?
3. Have they discovered any hindrances?
The daily scrum is not the place to discuss planning as it should be time-boxed to last 15 minutes and no longer. By keeping the discussion to just these three questions the Scrum Master can help to deal with hindrances and maintain the workflow.
At the end of the sprint, teams will host the sprint review for the development to present their work. This meeting can include outside stakeholders in attendance who provide feedback on this sprint.
The sprint review is a showcase of new functionality and details the work that has been done. Everyone should engage in an open discussion and provide feedback for the development team. This is key to the Agile methodology as frequent feedback leads to a better product.
At this meeting, the original sprint goals can be compared to the objectives that have been completed. The team will look at any discrepancies and consider how to make the next sprint better.
Meetings will need one hour for every week the sprint lasts. A two-week sprint should end with a two-hour sprint review. Add the feedback shared to the sprint backlog. This work will be included in the next or future sprint.
The Scrum Master will host the sprint retrospective. The development team and sometimes the product owner will attend this meeting. The Agile Framework involves continuous improvement and the sprint retrospective is when that happens.
The meetings should be held at the end of the sprint and are for the benefit of the scrum team. They last between 45 minutes to one hour per week of the sprint. The focus of the meeting should be on how to improve future sprints by asking these questions:
1. What went right in this sprint?
2. What went wrong in this sprint?
3. How can the next sprint be improved?
Sprint retrospective meetings don’t need a lot of preparation. They are more focused on what lessons were learned during the prior sprint. The goal of this meeting isn’t to assign blame to team members. It’s to encourage peer-to-peer feedback and constructive criticism.
A backlog refinement meeting happens during the interval between sprints. The goal is to clean up the details of tasks in the backlog. Teams can rank tasks, work out the deliverables, and define the details for each task. Define and categorize backlog tasks and the next meeting will reap the benefits.
By hosting a backlog refinement meeting the team can ensure everything is ready for the next sprint planning meeting. Sometimes it’s worth hosting more than one in-between sprints.
Scrum Meetings Best Practices
To ensure your team appreciates scrum meetings there are a few tips to keep everyone happy. The idea of a lot of meetings can seem daunting and unnecessary. Team members don’t want to feel micromanaged. If these meetings aren’t held correctly it can affect team morale.
Let’s take a look at some of the best practices you can put to use during your scrum meetings. This is how to get the most out of each meeting and keep your team members happy and motivated.
- Start and end meetings on time
Punctuality is important for scrum meetings. You can end up wasting valuable time if you have to wait for people to arrive. When you set a time for these meetings they should start when stated.If you try to schedule around the entire team’s commitments then meetings can end up being unproductive. You’ll have to host multiple ones to make sure everyone is in attendance.Instead, start meetings on time as this will send a message to the team that the meetings won’t wait for anyone.Ending on time is also important because the team will have work they need to get on with. Meetings that overrun can be stressful and create a negative working environment.
- Keep daily scrums to 15 minutes
Daily scrums are important but they serve a very specific purpose and should wrap up quickly. Stick to a simple agenda of the three questions mentioned earlier. Standing up during this meeting is a great way to keep things progressing. There’s a sense of urgency when standing up and it helps to ensure the meetings finish on time.
- Stick to the ceremony
As meetings progress it may feel necessary to deal with issues outside the scope of that particular meeting. Resist the urge and stick to the purpose of the meeting. There will be another opportunity scheduled where other issues will be addressed.This helps to keep meetings moving smoothly and avoids team members getting sidetracked.
- Make sure objectives are clear
Unplanned meetings can be a nightmare. It can make employees feel stressed and nervous which can affect their mood at work. Make sure that any meeting is clearly communicated and what the purpose of the meeting will be.Clear objectives help team members to prepare and be on time for the meeting. Since scrum meetings are going to start on time, every time, an advanced warning is great for team members.
- Use a scrum board
Scrum board is a visualization tool that can help your team with their tasks. The board is a quick reference guide on what tasks have already been completed, who’s working on what, and the tasks in the backlog.
It sounds like a lot of meetings but they serve a useful purpose that keeps development on track. Continuous improvement is what the Agile Framework aims to deliver and each subsequent sprint will be more honed than the previous.
Team members will get a lot out of these meetings as there is ample opportunity to ask questions and gain feedback on work. As long as meetings follow the best practices outlined above team members should find the scrum framework to be empowering.