Did you know that there are 55 million daily meetings in the US alone and that an average professional spends three hours in the conference room each week?
Its no wonder employees typically hate meetings. However, meetings are one of the best ways of communication, which goes hand in hand with effective project management. The only setback is that most of these meetings are unproductive.
Luckily, Agile scrum meetings form part of an invaluable framework and source of communicating information and collecting constructive feedback from various teams, especially the development team, and help keep the team aligned and focused on defined sprint goals.
Not only do scrum meetings reduce time spent in daily conference rooms, but they also prove to boost group productivity.
- What is Scrum?
- Types of Scrum Meetings
- Scrum Best Practices
- Benefits of Scrum Meetings
- Common Mistakes to Avoid With Scrum Meetings
What is Scrum?
Scrum is an Agile framework that helps teams, people, and organizations work together to address complex problems while efficiently and productively delivering high-value products. Scrum encourages teams to organize tasks while working on projects, reflect on their losses and wins, to keep improving and learn through their experiences.
According to the Scrum Guide, the definition of scrum consists of "Scrum's accountabilities, events, artifacts, and the rules that bind them together. "
Scrum focuses on team collaboration and decision-making, with projects are broken down into timeboxed sprints. The team meets at the beginning of each sprint to assess what they want to accomplish in the next. Scrum teams continue to meet frequently throughout each sprint.
Types of Scrum Meetings
Through each sprint, your team should have five types of Scrum meetings. But don't panic, as most of these meetings only occur once each sprint, depending on schedules.
1. Sprint Planning Meeting
In Scrum meetings, projects are broken into time blocks known as sprints. A sprint planning meeting is a scrum event where the team, including the Scrum Product Manager, Scrum Master, and the Scrum Team, attend a meeting to review projects' backlog items and determine what will be prioritized for the next sprint. This scrum meeting aims to ensure that all members have the same opportunities before work begins. Everyone team member needs to clearly understand what is to be delivered in the next sprint and how to accomplish it.
A sprint planning meeting is scheduled on the first day of a new sprint, just after the sprint review and retrospective from the last sprint. This ensures that any output from the two discussions is considered when planning a new sprint. However, sometimes it doesn't have to be right after those two events. You can prioritize scheduling for the meeting depending on the availability of the whole team.
During the meeting, the team should:
- Set a sprint goal consisting of a plan summary for the next sprint.
- Review a sprint product backlog that supports the set sprint goal and reviews the estimates.
The best place to hold a sprint planning meeting is the team room, where you can access the necessary information. The main advantage of sprint planning is that it provides the team a chance to start a new sprint with a better understanding of what tasks they will be handling for that sprint and the initial approach strategy.
2. Daily Scrum Meeting
Daily scrums, also known as stand-up meetings, are short daily meetings that allow team members to review progress, share updates and triage new issues briefly. Typically, they are held while the team is standing at the same time and place every day with a timeframe of no longer than 15 minutes to ensure members stay relevant, light, and quick.
The main aim of these meetings is to briefly discuss task statuses and any hindrances and ensure the goals of the scrum team and the product owner stay aligned. The Scrum Master often facilitates the daily stand-up meetings by asking three significant questions:
- What tasks did you manage yesterday?
- What jobs are you handling today?
- What hindrances are affecting your work?
Ideally, daily scrums are planning meetings with brief, focused agendas. They should turn into a lengthy overview of every single thing members plan to do or for listing off appointments and meetings.
Recurring daily scrum meetings give teams clear ways to align around what happens in the company, remove blockers and plan daily work properly.
3. Sprint Review Meeting
The sprint review event is one of the most vital ceremonies where teams come together to review accomplished projects and examine whether there's a need for additional changes. The meeting is often held at the end of every sprint, led by the development team, who presents the tasks they completed during the sprint.
The purpose of the sprint review is not to give a status update but rather to explain what value the project adds to the company. Thus, the work members present during the event must be fully demonstrable. This also helps the team get stakeholders' feedback on user stories in the sprint as an additional benefit.
An effective sprint review typically lasts about two to four hours and features sprint hindrances, new features, and a review of whether the sprint goal was accomplished. Scrum masters facilitate the meetings, ensuring that all issues are addressed.
A Sprint review agenda includes the following topics:
- Product demo - To exhibit accomplished tasks
- User stories - To confirm complete stories and discuss how to handle incomplete ones
- Product backlog – Assessment and adjustment of the product backlog
The agenda can typically include other items such as housekeeping notes and a list of attendees.
4. Sprint Retrospective Meeting
The sprint retrospective is a scrum timeboxed meeting held after the sprint review and before sprint planning. The fundamental purpose of these meetings is to review what was done right or wrong during the sprint. It's always a rare opportunity for the team to reflect on the projects and what changes are necessary. Everything that affects how products are developed and improvements, including tools, processes, environment, artifacts, and more, are open to discussion.
Sprint retrospectives usually demand minimum preparation time since they are simply about lessons learned in the past with a deeper analysis of what changes are to be made in the future.
During sprint retrospective meetings, the team reviews:
- What work was done well during the sprint
- What project didn't go as planned
- What should be improved for the next sprint
Even if the last sprint was a success, the improvement opportunities are always present, and how to improve is always discussed in a retrospective meeting. Everyone is allowed to constructively criticize some elements of the sprint without blaming other members or contributing an idea for how to improve, and the members may decide to vote on various points to prioritize next time.
5. Backlog Refinement Meeting
Backlog refinement, previously known as product backlog grooming, helps teams refine their development process for the next sprint by ensuring they always have well-defined tasks to be handled. According to the Scrum Guide, backlog refinement is an "ongoing process" and not a timeboxed one-time event. Unlike sprint planning and sprint retrospective meetings that have defined place and time in the agile process, backlog refinement has no defined guidelines on when or how it should occur.
You can think or refinement as a to-do list of improvements that need to be made to move the product forward in a resourceful way. It includes many activities such as adding precise details of product requirements according to new information, general estimation of required effort to complete a backlog item, and more accurate estimation of the effort necessary using techniques like sprint or planning poker.
The purpose of the backlog refinement include:
- Prioritize backlog items
- Align backlog items with KPIs or OKRs
- Ensure appropriate sizing of backlog items
- Add more detail to backlog items
A well-refined agile backlog grooming helps teams understand the difference between deliverables and requirements. It also makes sprint planning much easier since items are already well-defined and ready for building. The goal is to keep the running list as up-to-date and accurate as possible, along with clear details for the team.
Scrum Best Practices
Most people don't appreciate scrum meetings for various reasons, such as thinking they are a waste of time or valueless. This is a misguided perception since scrums add value and help teams be more productive. To interest team members in scrum meetings, be sure to follow these tips for maximum efficiency and productivity.
Set clear Objectives
Scrum meetings can lose their purpose when there are no clear objectives. If you want the meeting to stay focused and productive, it's essential to set clear objectives and purpose before the meeting. Most people dread unplanned meetings, so specify how long the meeting will take, and the type of scrum people are attending before the intended time.
This will ensure that every team member comes well prepared and time wastage is reduced to the maximum.
Always stick to the schedule, regardless of those attending the meeting. Beginning and ending the meeting on time can help limit other adverse outcomes. Waiting for late member leads to time wastage for those who came on time and bleeds into the valuable time the team could spend on their actual tasks for the day. This will evoke a sense of respect for time and punctuality next time late members join because you've set it clear that all meetings will be held within the specified time.
Define Sprint Goals
Every scrum meeting should be aligned to the goals the members are working towards. If the objectives and the sprint goals are not aligned, the meeting would be boring and meaningless. During sprints, everyone should share how they contribute toward the ultimate goal. This ensures that the sprint goal is kept at the center and that practical ways of achieving it are defined.
Have an Agenda
Typically, having a clear meeting agenda helps people focus and increase the effectiveness of a meeting. So prepare a scrum meeting agenda ahead of time and share it with the participants. This practice allows members to come well equipped with concerns, ideas, or questions for other attendees. It also helps them focus on only those elements relevant to the meeting, saving significant time.
It's okay to strive for perfection. Check your track record and learn how best to improve and accomplish set goals. Evaluating your actions is always a best practice to improve things through adjustments and improvements.
Benefits of Scrum Meetings
The number one benefit of holding scrum meetings is that it ensures all team members are on the same page about what work needs to be done, hindrances that slow them down, and improvements to be made.
Some other benefits of scrum meetings include:
- Give team members clear information about their tasks and responsibilities for the next sprint
- Allow the team to assess their work after completing the product
- Help the team spot blockers before they become too troublesome
- Allow the team to come up with practical ways to improve on successes for future prints
Common Mistakes to Avoid With Scrum Meetings
To ensure projects succeed within budget and on time, the entire team needs good communication to be on the same page. Simple mistakes can, however, make scrum meetings inefficient. Be mindful of the following:
- Avoid introducing new product ideas in a scrum meeting. These meetings are not designed for such discussion. Designate other times for new product discussions and keep the purpose of the meeting aligned.
- Do not wait for latecomers as that will be disrespecting other people's valuable time.
- Don't limit people from sharing the impediments affecting the flow of their projects. Let your team members feel valued during these meetings.
Regardless of your company's goals, scrum meetings are designed to deliver great results. All teams need to run these events since they provide structure to achieving set goals. While inefficient scrums can limit members' ability to accomplish their goals, well-structured, effective scrums empower teams for long-term success.
Every scrum team is different, and there's no perfect process that fits all. But it's best to try the concept and see how much it affects the business. Try Fellow to improve your meetings