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Scrum Ceremonies

by StarAgile

December 16, 2019
Category Agile and Scrum


Managing and executing a project is not a cakewalk until you follow a process. Remember I never mentioned it is difficult but it can be easy only by following some methodical approach. We are now very much aware of why an agile project management tetechnique is used in the place of a traditional waterfall approach. Having said that, the scrum framework is considered to be the simplest one for handling any complex project.

Now, let us understand the success of this framework. Yes, it is all because of the ceremonies which the team follows religiously. What are these ceremonies, how to do, who must do etc are details we would like to furnish you in this blog? Without wasting time, let us get into the subject. This guide will give you a detailed overview of the scrum ceremonies.

What is it All About?

First things first, so comes the definition. There are three key people in a scrum team namely the scrum master, product owner, and the team. The team includes developers, testers, designers, etc. Scrum is a process-oriented framework that insists on time-bound work and review. The daily meetings, sprint, and retrospective followed periodically lead to the project success. In short, these are the called the agile scrum ceremonies.

Ceremonies in Scrum Cycle

Every agile project executed in the scrum way contains different release cycles. Each release cycle contains nested sprints within them. Therefore, there are many meetings within each sprint cycle.

Let us organize these meetings into 5 and they are named as the ceremonies. It is a cyclic process which once initiated will keep revolving until the end result is achieved.

Find the details about the scrum ceremonies below and before that, we have also presented infographics to visually understand the ceremonies in scrum cycle.

ceremonies in scrum cycle

Need for Ceremonies of Scrum

Before we understand each in detail let us get convinced about why we need such formal meetings.

1.    Team productivity is increased with the help of the time-bound review meetings. These discussions are not to find fault but to share the status of the project. Further, a healthy way is identified to proceed further.
2.    This procedure enhances team collaboration. The team works together and celebrates success as well as owns the mistakes.
3.    This is a transparent model allowing each team member to be empowered and work with motivation.
4.    Everyone can inspect themselves and adapt to the changes required on their own with no one bossing around them.
5.    Continuous learning is happening to lead to successful delivery every time.

What are the 5 Scrum Ceremonies

Initially, it was 4 and then became 5 Scrum Ceremonies. Yes, the grooming of the backlog is that additional one ceremony. It was included aiming to minimize the latest barriers caused in sprint planning.

1.    Sprint Planning Meeting

What is it? This is designed to get the team into one page. Planning is done to make sure that things are executed as planned and is consistent during every sprint. Basically, each sprint for 2 weeks is well planned in this meeting and the team comes into alignment to start their work.

Why is it required? At the beginning of every new sprint, this meeting is conducted. The meeting involves an active discussion between the participants. The PO will explain the project and the team will agree upon timelines. The goal of the sprint is to complete work and increment the shipping scope of the end product. 

Who takes part? Both the PO and the team meet to discuss the product backlog that needs immediate attention. The PO will let know the team about the backlog items and also the acceptance criteria, needed details to educate the team about the efforts required. The team will estimate the time using planning poker. The PO further clarifies doubts if any to the team and the meeting ends with mutual consent on the timelines.

Sprint Ceremonies Duration

This is based on the sprint length. The meeting will last for twice the time duration of the sprint in hours. This means for a 2-week sprint the planning ceremony should not be more than 4 hours.

Tips for Executing this Ceremony Effectively


a.    Break the user stories into small chunks and distribute them to the team for load sharing.
b.    Empower the team and let them list the tasks and bugs.
c.    Think and decide the goal but never look back after goal setting is completed.
d.    Stick to the time and never make it a long meeting which dissolves the purpose of the Scrum framework.
e.    Measure the team velocity before the meeting starts.

2.    Daily Stand-Up Meeting

What is it? The meeting is over and the plan is freeze in the sprint planning meeting. Every day the team catches up for a quick discussion to update status, identify blocks and plan the next day's work.

Why is it required? Scrum never allows the team to spend 2 weeks' time to meet in the sprint to take any last-minute surprises. The everyday team meets to overcome hurdles if any and not let any weed grow deep-rooted. It is not a mere status update meeting but illuminating the impediments and clearing them.

Who takes part?
The PO has nothing to do here and can be a silent observer but purely optional. Scrum master along with the team will be part of this meeting.

Duration Strictly time-bound, 15 minutes is the maximum time allowed for daily standup.

Tips to Make Daily Standup Effective in a Short Span of Time

a.    Scrum master is the owner of this meeting and clinging to time is the key. Make use of a timer and have a constructive session.
b.    Conduct meetings at the same time and place at least for every sprint as this will provide a memory to the team.
c.    For virtual teams use video calls in the place of audio-only calls. Let the team meet to commit.
d.    Use balls and add some games to the meeting to break the monotony.
e.    The scrum master can address issues individually if the issue requires attention. But the meeting should get over on time.

3.    Sprint Review Meeting

What is it? Work completed for the sprint is displayed in front of all stakeholders. It can be a causal demo meeting conducted on the last working day of the week.

Why is it required? This is required to know the progress of the entire project. The team will feel confident about the progress and the stakeholders can see the development and suggest changes if any.

Who takes part? The SM, PO and the team. Also, other stakeholders like the end-users and the management are part of the meeting. SM and PO play an active role and get in all the required people for the discussion.

Duration Every week this review happens and it can last up to one hour.  If the sprint review happens only once for a 2-week sprint, then the duration can be extended to 2 two hours.

Make it Effective Following These Tips

a.    SM must plan ahead and arrange for the meeting room with projectors for demo.
b.    Action items received at this meeting must be readily converted to the product backlog and included in the upcoming sprints.
c.    If end-users are taking part, then let the team come prepared with a rehearsal.
d.    PO must ask questions, address issues and collect feedback.

4.    Sprint Retrospective Meeting

What is it? The standard scrum ceremonies list keeps this meeting as the final one. Everyone gets a chance to look back and retrospect.

Why is it required? The team can discuss and agree upon things for improvement. The team analyses the right and the wrong things that happened in the previous sprint to maintain or take corrective actions respectively. Also, what went wrong is discussed to conduct a deep root analysis for improvement.

Who takes part? SM and the team participate to have a free discussion and take necessary corrective actions.

Duration Just doesn’t go beyond 90 minutes for a 2-week sprint. Based on the sprint duration plan for the timing.

How to Make Sprint Retrospective Effective – Tips to Every SM

a.    Continuous improvement is the key which must be achieved with facts and not feeling.
b.    Try new initiatives rather than following the same to provide confidence to the team
c.    Allow the team to talk subjects that make sense and don’t hesitate to curb unnecessary frustration throwing.
d.    Make it a lively discussion to encourage the team to talk constructively, appreciate their efforts to motivate them.
e.    Build a self-organizing team.

5.    Refining the backlog


What is it? Once during every sprint, a product backlog grooming happens and it is a recurring event.

Why is it required? The main purpose of this session is to make sure prioritizing the right stories. It will help the team to arrange for worthy user stories for the upcoming sprints. PO runs this session inviting the right people.

Who takes part?
The team, SM and the PO take part to plan for a better sprint in the near future from the lessons learned from the past sprints.

Duration Every two weeks sprint requires a 1-hour backlog grooming session.

Tips to Groom Backlogs Correctly for the Future Sprints

a.    Make small user stories and discuss with the team to do away with ambiguities.
b.    Detail each user story appropriately and discuss it with the cross-functional team before prioritizing the story points.
c.    Then estimate the effort included in each user story
d.    Finally, rank the backlogs based on their purpose and value to assign.

Scrum Ceremonies Duration

I already mentioned that it is a time-bound process and every activity in the project is time-boxed. Every scrum gets executed in sprints which are called a short iteration and it lasts not more than 2 weeks. Each of the scrum ceremonies takes a minimum of 15 mins to complete the rituals. Find the time duration of each scrum ceremony in detail under each subheading.

S.NO
Agile CeremoniesDuration for a 2-Week Sprint
1
Sprint planning meeting4 hours
2
Daily scrum meeting15 minutes
3
Sprint Review meeting2 hours
4
Sprint Retrospective meeting 90 minutes
5
Product backlog grooming1 hour

Final Inputs
It is healthy when every agile charter includes scrum ceremonies. You may use several advance project management tools for the best delivery. However, efficiently conducted scrum ceremonies will lead to delivery on time and maintains accuracy as well. Agile projects are successful with the scrum framework and religiously following the ceremonies will carve the way. Remember every sprint ceremony thinks of the product and iterate to improve.

To understand indetail about Scrum Ceremonies attend StarAgile Scrum Master Certification or for more details call us at +91 – 80502 05233



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