Scrum has been in the game for over 20 years now, but despite that many of the companies that I am visiting are still struggling to understand Scrum framework and some of the companies or individuals have just recently heard about it.
For anyone, who is just beginning the scrum journey, let me quickly summarize what Scrum is about. Scrum is focusing on discovering “what” is expected (e.g. the purpose) and understanding “why” something is expected. It’s opposed to “how” we should implement the requirements. Scrum is a framework, where there is a space for different tactics, which can be fitted into the context and individual case. You can think in the way that Scrum is taking the best practices and scales them in the best way to fit into individual organization.
Scrum is supporting very simple, but yet very effective ideas, which are embracing teams to regularly check in what they are doing, so that they can make sure they are heading in the right direction and that they are building something that people actually want. Along with checking if the output is heading into the right direction, Scrum also encourage teams to find the ways how they can improve not only the product or the service that they are building, but also themselves, by asking themselves how they could do something better and faster. What this basically means is that every little while, the team will stop and inspect what they are doing and how they might do it better. This is referred in Scrum as Inspect and Adapt cycle.
In this post I will address 5 different types of meetings to be held during the sprint in order to utilize the scrum values, with open communication, collaboration and efficiency. Scrum meetings help teams to keep improving and to keep moving into direction that will bring out the best outcome with high quality.
Ensuring the specific time-boxing for sprint meetings will secure the higher efficiency of the whole team and of course of the project itself.
With this cyclical process, the team will be able to achieve better ability to communicate openly and honestly.
With the sprint length of one week, the time boxing for all meetings duration is estimated to be min 6h and max 11h and prior to holding first meeting the backlog should be well refined and prioritized. This is very important aspect, as the people who is actually going to work competition of backlog items, should estimate how much effort it is going to take them to complete particular work item. As the backlog refinement is even another important topic I will cover it separately in another future post.
This is a first Sprint meeting which should be held at the very beginning of the Sprint, with app duration of 2-4 hours. The duration of the Sprint Planning meeting depends on the Sprint length and for 1-week sprint it should be between 2-4 hours.
Usually in Sprint meeting plan all team is present, including the Product Owner and the Scrum Master. In this meeting the team will take the top items from the backlog and estimate or forecast how much they will deliver in the sprint and based on that they will have team’s velocity. Once when the team will be running couple of sprints, they will be able to understand the velocity of each past sprint and this is also an opportunity to strive towards improving the velocity in future sprints. What this basically means is that team will understand how many points they managed to deliver in past sprints and they will try to improve that number in future Sprints.
Goals of the meetings:
- Agreed and verified about the PBIs that will be delivered in the sprint
- Add all the team members capacity, days off
- Assigned the PBIs/User Stories to team members
- Planning individual tasks for all team members that respect the capacity for the sprint (Green)
One of the very important principles of Scrum is that team should be committed to what say they will complete in the sprint. This should not be changed and the team should really try hard by any means to deliver what they have committed to deliver. To make this smooth, the teams usually use the Scrum Boards, so that they can track their progress in any time.
This meeting is keeping the rhythm of the team in the right place, as this meeting should be held every day, at the same time, same place. On the meeting all the team should be present, including the Scrum Master. As the Scrum teams are self-managed, the presence of Scrum Master is still preferable, but not the meeting can sometimes also take place without Scrum Master. The role of the Scrum Master in this meeting is usually to make sure that the team stays in the time boxing, that everyone gets the chance to speak and to remove any impediments coming on team’s way.
Goals of the meetings:
- What they did yesterday, that can help the team to successfully deliver items from Sprint Planning.
- What they are going to do today, that will help the team to finish the Sprint.
- Is there any blocking point or impediment on their way?
With this meeting the whole team will be able to have visibility where exactly they are in delivering the Sprint and if everything is going in the direction to be delivered on time.
As previously mentioned, the first grooming session should be held even before starting the sprint, but preferably this is not the only Grooming session to be held. Usually and highly recommended is to have another grooming session, somewhere in the middle of the sprint.
Goals of the meetings:
- Remove obsolete items (PBIs/User Stories) that are maybe no more needed
- Add new items, if this is necessary to deliver the sprint
- Refinement for the description or title
- Add initial or more acceptance criteria
- Estimate the items
- Prioritize the items
Sprint review and the title implies, is held at the very end of the sprint. In many cases you will hear people using term “Sprint Demo” as this is actually what this meeting is about. The team will show the demos of their work, they will show exactly what they produced during the sprint.
However, one important aspect of the Sprint Review is that team should present only the working items that they have delivered. What does this mean? It means that the team will present or demo the work items that met the Definition of Done (DoD), which means that this item doesn’t require any more work to complete it. It’s ready to be delivered.
Goals of the meetings:
- Explains what items have been “Done” and what has not been “Done”;
- Discusses what went well during the Sprint, what problems the team ran into, and how those problems were solved
- Demonstration of the functionality built during the sprint
The goal of Sprint Retrospective meeting is to discuss openly what went well and what didn’t during the sprint, so that team can find together better ways to meet the project’s goals. Here the team can discuss internal processes as well.
This meeting definitely requires the trust and some maturity to discuss potential issues very openly. It’s very important here for each team member to be aware of the responsibility of the each individual, in order to being able to find the solutions that could make them perform better and faster.
During the Sprint Retrospective the team will address next questions:
- Start doing
- Stop doing
- Continue doing
All Scrum meetings are designed and considered in a way to make the teams to deliver faster and to solve any possible impediments coming on their way, immediately. Each meeting is an opportunity to improve the process and the performance in a great scope. This cycle of the meetings should be considered in each Sprint cycle, considering the team’s previous experience. VSTS, as an Agile tool has the capabilites which are supporting Scrum values in a great way and they are enabling strong visibility and transparency for whole team. In next posts I will elaborate more about the VSTS backlog and reqirements links and sizes, to get more insights about the whole idea of linking the tools with the process.