Published on February 19, 2020
Read time 7 minutes
Scrum Ceremonies Made Simple!
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Project Management is a complex jumble of events and activities. Consisting of methodologies like Agile and Scrum, project management can be quite challenging when managing all of the processes together.
This mostly happens because the manager is new or is not well versed in all of the activities these methodologies entail. As Scrum is a huge part of Project Management, we’ll stick to that in this article.
The Scrum methodology consists of a lot of ceremonies or processes that a project has to go through if it wants to do well in the market. These processes are related to the agile software delivery process. Most ceremonies in any paradigm are just for team management but these ceremonies are a bit different.
These Scrum ceremonies provide the pathway or the framework for all of the team members to accomplish all of their goals in a structured manner, help the team to set reasonable expectations and ultimately empower the team to communicate with each other so that the end results are perfect.
If due to some reason these ceremonies are not managed properly, they can mess up the project schedules and drown the value that the project was supposed to provide to the organization.
Scrum Ceremonies Made Simple
In this piece, we will dive right in about the purpose of these ceremonies, which attendees are supposed to appear on which ceremony and what are the tips and tricks to make a ceremony successful for the project and the company. The four Scrum Ceremonies in question are:
- Sprint Planning
- Sprint Review
- Daily Scrum
- Sprint Retrospective
You have to understand that these ceremonies are related to the Scrum Methodology which is basically an agile process that is used to create projects and products that are perfect.
Scrum is intentionally lightweight in comparison but it’s a vital entity in the project management paradigm so we will discuss it in detail.
Before we discuss what these ceremonies are, let us first take a look at the actors or the roles that are involved in scrum processes.
The Product Owner
The Product Owner is the bridge between the product on which the company is currently working on, and the client and the business. They have complete control over the backlog, and they are the ones who have to prioritize all of the tasks related to the project so that they are completed in the sprints.
Ultimately, they are the ones that listen to the needs of the customer and convert those needs into actionable work activities for the development teams.
The Scrum Master
The Scrum Master is another essential role in the scrum model who is responsible for delivering resources to the development team so that they can complete the project which will provide the required value.
They are the advocate, coach, facilitator, and mediator all sandwiched into one. They basically do everything that a project manager does, just through the lens of a scrum.
The Development Team
The development team is the asset of the army force with the help of which a company accomplishes its goals. They are the ones who deliver the final working product. The development team in Software Engineering means just the coder and the programmers but in the PM paradigm, the team is much more diverse.
This development team includes all of the developers, technical personnel, designers and quality assurance specialists. This team is supposed to be the most motivated because they are the ones the whole company is relying on gaining success, and with the help of Scrum Master and Product Owner, they ultimately are.
Each of these roles has crucial importance in each of the scrum ceremonies. These ceremonies help these roles be empowered so that they bring the best value to the company by doing their best work possible. Let’s dive into what these ceremonies are.
Also, read this complete scrum project management guide:
Let’s discuss the 4 different Ceremonies that are involved in the Scrum paradigm.
1. Sprint Planning
Scrum Planning is the ceremony in which the team is reviewed by the upper management to make sure that they are prepared to get the right things done in every coming sprint.
The purpose of a sprint planning meeting is to make sure that the product backlog is properly reviewed and understood by both the Product Owner and the Development Team. The healthy routine for this meeting to happen is that it should happen before every sprint.
When the sprint planning meeting is properly executed and all of the attendees have completed their work accordingly, they create a sprint backlog that consists of all of the items that the team is willing to complete at the end of the sprint. This is known as the sprint goal.
One thing to keep in mind is that this sprint goal that the sprint sets in the sprint planning meeting should be an attainable goal that can be presented to the rest of the stakeholders at the end of a sprint. That’s why it is discussed in this ceremony to make sure that everyone agrees on it before work starts.
Sprint Planning meeting consists of the following attendees:
- Product Owner
- Development Team
- Scrum Master
When it comes to the duration of the sprint planning ceremony, it should last no more than 2 times the length of the sprint (in hours).
So, if the sprint is 1 week long then the sprint planning ceremony should not last more than 2 hours and if the sprint is 2 weeks long then the sprint planning ceremony should not last more than 4 hours.
2. Daily Scrum a.k.a Daily Standup
The Daily Scrum Meeting is a recurring ceremony that happens every day in which the team leader has the chance to get together with the team and discuss the working points of that day’s work. They define the plan for the day and identify any obstacles that come in their way during development.
This ceremony is an amazing opportunity for all of the parties involved in the project development to get together and discuss all of the roadblocks that may or may not happen during the development process.
When these roadblocks are identified, the work of the Scrum Master starts because they are the ones responsible for clearing any obstacles that the development team faces. When these roadblocks are cleared, the development team can focus on delivering the work that was agreed on in the Sprint Planning.
Following are the general questions that every member of the Development Team has to answer during the daily scrum meeting:
- What will you do today?
- Are there any obstacles expected in your work today?
- What did you do yesterday?
Each attendee of this ceremony as to be on their toes the whole time if they want to answer these questions. This is also a good time to give discuss new ideas or practices to tackle the work of that day.
Daily Scrum meeting consists of the following attendees:
- Scrum Master
- Development Team
- (Occasionally) Outside Stakeholders
The duration of this meeting is about 15 minutes but that’s easier said than done.
3. Sprint Review
Sprint Review is the scrum ceremony in which all of the work done during a particular sprint is presented for all of the stakeholders to see and provide their feedback on the whole gig.
When any sprint is concluded, the Sprint Review provides an excellent opportunity for the development team to present all of their hard work to the stakeholders.
This is very important because it lets the stakeholders know what is happening with the project which ultimately makes them familiar with it and no unreasonable demands are created.
Sprint Review can be set up whenever the development team likes but if they want to make it a successful ceremony, they have to bring their A-game to “Wow” the stakeholders. They have to be confident when they present their work and not make it feel like their on trial for a crime or something.
Sprint Review meeting consists of the following attendees:
- Product Owner
- Development team
- Scrum Master
The duration of this ceremony is calculated by the formula “One hour per week of the sprint”. So, if the sprint is one week long, the sprint review ceremony will be 1 hour long.
4. Sprint Retrospective
The Sprint Retrospective is the final ceremony in this article. This ceremony allows the team members to take a step back and review all of the work that has been completed and find out what the weak points of the product are and what could be improved.
All of the changes and suggestions are presented to the stakeholders by the team members in this ceremony. Some of the questions that are raised by the stakeholders in the Sprint Retrospective ceremony are:
- What could we do to change the product for the better?
- What feature in the project has not yielded the proper value?
- What was so good in the last sprint that made it successful?
Ultimately what this ceremony does is that it provides an opportunity for all of the team members to come clean on what went wrong and provide their honest feedback and helpful recommendations to make the product better.
Sprint Retrospective meeting consists of the following attendees:
- Scrum Master
- Development team
The duration of this ceremony is typically 1.5 hours for a 2-week sprint which means that if the sprint is a month-long gig, the retro meeting should be of about 3 hours and not a minute over.
Every team and their respective product is different in the PM paradigm and there are not perfect processes. The best advice you can get is that you should keep all of the principles of project management in mind and keep iterating and improving as you go along.
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