Scrum meetings are an integral component of a work environment which adopts the Scrum methodology. They are considered to be an invaluable source of collecting information and feedback from the development team and help in keeping the team aligned with the Sprint goals.
We’ve already dug deeper into the Scrum framework and how it compares with other Agile methodologies in our previous blogs, but we haven’t explored in detail the art of Scrum meetings and how you don’t need to just wing them, but execute them like you own the game.
It may sound dramatic, but trust us, at the end of this blog, you’ll know everything you need to know about Scrum meetings, the different types, and how to effectively run them.
Types of Scrum Meetings
Let’s begin by having a look at the types of Scrum meetings. There are 6 types of Scrum meetings which occur at a particular time during a Sprint cycle and each particular type serves a distinct purpose.
- Sprint Planning Meeting
- Daily Scrum Meeting
- Sprint Review Meeting
- Sprint Retrospective Meeting
- Backlog Refinement Meeting
1. Sprint Planning Meeting
At the beginning of every Sprint, Sprint planning meeting is held. Usually, the entire team is expected to be present during this meeting, including the product owner and the Scrum master.
The goal of this meeting is to develop realistic Sprint backlog and define the highest priority tasks which need to be done during the length of each Sprint. The product owner is responsible for explaining the backlog items to the development team and open discussion is expected from both ends to clear all kinds of ambiguities.
During the meeting, team members also communicate the amount of work they can complete in a particular timeframe, so basically, at the end of this meeting, development team comes back with a Sprint goal, as well as a Sprint Backlog.
2. Daily Scrum Meeting
Daily Scrum meeting, or daily standups – as many people call them, are short 15 minutes meetings which occur on daily basis. They are typically held at the same time and same place every day and are strictly timeboxed to no longer than 15 minutes. This ensures the discussion to stay light, relevant, and quick.
It’s highly imperative that only task-statuses and hindrances are discussed during the daily Scrum meeting and other long planning related discussions are left for some other time.
So, what exactly happens during these short meetings? Well, there’s essentially a three questions agenda which is presented before each team member to get an overview of the task progress. These questions are:
- What did you accomplish yesterday?
- What are you working on today?
- Are there any impediments in your way?
These questions are an excellent source of gaining insights about the work progress and how everyone is coming along with the development work. They also help the Scrum master in facilitating the smooth workflow by removing the impediments.
3. Sprint Review Meeting
At the end of each Sprint, a Sprint Review meeting is held. The core objective of this meeting is to demonstrate the functionality of the product and what has been achieved during a particular Sprint. Generally, product owner, Scrum Master, and other stakeholders are present to review the product.
The product performance is also measured against the original Sprint goals developed during the Sprint planning meeting to oversee any major changes that are there or that are needed to be made.
4. Sprint Retrospective Meeting
Sprint retrospective meeting- as the name suggests- is solely held with a fundamental purpose of reviewing what went right and wrong during a Sprint. The meeting brings forth a great opportunity for the entire team to reflect back on the work and what improvements are needed to be made.
Retrospective meetings usually require minimum preparation time as they are merely a ‘lesson learned’ type of exercise, with a thorough analysis of what should be done in future.
5. Backlog Refinement Meeting
The last type of Scrum meetings is the backlog refinement meeting, also known as the product backlog grooming. Mostly, product backlog items need refinement for the next Sprint, to make the team understand them better for successful execution.
In backlog refinement meeting, the backlog items are categorized and prioritized after a technical discussion with the team to make sure that the team understands what exactly are the deliverables and what are the requirements.
Conducting backlog refinement meeting reduces the need for a long Sprint planning meeting and gives the team a chance to reflect on the backlog items before fully committing to the Sprint goals.
Best Practices for Scrum Meetings
Most people hate Scrum meetings because they think these meetings don’t add value and are a complete waste of time. If your team members think the same, you’re probably doing something wrong!
If you don’t want uninterested team members in your Scrum meetings, follow some of the Scrum meetings best practices that we’ve compiled for you and take our word for it, they’ll lead to highly productive outcomes!
1. Define Clear Objectives
Scrum meetings have a tendency to quickly go off the rails if the objectives are not clear. For meetings to stay crisp, yet productive, it’s important to define a clear purpose and objective before the meeting is held.
Most of the times, team members dread unplanned meetings if they’re not told beforehand what the meeting is all about. Therefore, before calling a meeting, identify the type of Scrum meeting it is and inform the team before the intended time.
By following this practice, you ensure that your team members come prepared and time wastage is mitigated to the maximum.
2. Begin and End on Time
Beginning and ending a particular Scrum meeting on time can put a halt to many other negative outcomes. You need to stick to your schedule no matter who is there to attend the meeting. If you keep waiting for team members to join as they arrive, you’ll lose precious time- and patience of those who arrive on time.
This particular Scrum meeting practice will also invoke a sense of punctuality in your team members the next time they join because it’ll be clear that meetings will always begin and end on time.
Another big no when it comes to Scrum meetings is to not try to fit in every team member’s individual feasibility of attending a meeting, because by doing so, you’ll quickly lose the overall decorum of meeting and you will have to shift the schedule multiple times- thus killing the productivity.
3. Daily Scrums for Monitoring Progress
The daily standups- for 15 minutes- should serve the intended purpose only, that is, to quickly address the 3 questions agenda and take a quick scan of the overall progress. The daily standups are not meant for rambling of team members- there should be other meetings for that.
Try to strictly contain the discussion in 15 minutes timeframe and make it short. One way to do this is to make sure that the meeting is held while standing up- yes, get rid of the chairs, and ask the team members to stick to the three questions agenda only.
This Scrum meeting best practice shows that daily standups are a highly effective way of monitoring the overall progress of the development work in terms of Sprint goals.
4. Prepare Scrum Meeting Agenda
This is one of simplest Scrum meeting best practice which helps in increasing the effectiveness of a Scrum meeting. Prepare a meeting agenda before the start of a meeting and share it with the meeting attendees.
Predefined Scrum meeting agenda helps in identifying only those elements which need to be discussed during a meeting, reducing the wandering off from the intended topic of discussion and saves significant time too.
A good practice of circulating the meeting agenda among team members before the meeting also makes the topic of discussion crystal clear and helps them to contribute effectively during the Scrum meeting.
5. Relevancy with the Sprint Goals
You really don’t want a team that’s mindlessly busy in their work without having any alignment with the Sprint goals. Each day, you have to make sure that each team member is contributing valuable input which is in line with the broader Sprint goals.
Same applies to Scrum meetings. If the meeting’s objectives are not aligned with the Sprint goals, it would just be another boring, meaningless meeting which will only add extra costs for the company.
Daily standups or daily Scrum meetings are a great way to take regular reports from the team members and help them in reviving the vision if they’re strayed off. Make this a habit during Scrum meetings to ask the team members about how they’re progressing towards the goals rather than how busy they are.
6. Continuous Improvement
In the end, always strive for better results. Look back at your track record and learn. Mastering the skill of Scrum meetings requires practice and improvement from the last time it was held, so at the end of each type of meeting, sit back and contemplate. Compare the results with the original goals and be mindful of all the changes that are occurring around you, within your team.
This is one of the most effective Scrum meeting best practices because it helps you in evaluating your actions and what you can do to improve them.
What NOT to do during Scrum meetings
- DO NOT wait for latecomers. Just don’t! Unless they have a genuine reason, don’t unnecessarily drag the time of a scrum meeting by waiting for people who can’t adhere to the timings. They’re just killing the overall vibe of a scrum meeting.
- Scrum meetings are not meant for new product ideas. Don’t introduce any new idea in a Scrum meeting. These meetings should not be the only form of communication among the team members, therefore designate some other day or time for this type of discussion.
- Allow people to come forth with any impediments they may have while trying to achieve their work goals. Your team members should feel valued and these feedbacks should be taken from them during the daily standups.