Scrum Ceremonies: An Introductory Guide to Scrum Event

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06th Aug, 2021
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Scrum Ceremonies: An Introductory Guide to Scrum Event

Scrum is a simple and easy-to-understand framework. Hence, it is a very lightweight foundation that everyone can understand. However, the Scrum framework is purposefully left incomplete: The foundation defines or outlines the game's rules, such as the rules of a sport. You must know the rules well enough to participate in a particular sport, but just knowing them doesn't mean winning a game. That's one primary rationale why Scrum is tough to master: you must know many things outside of Scrum so that the framework works successfully. The basis of the Scrum framework is empiricism. This is the main reason success depends on how the team runs the events. Scrum framework is based on Agile methodology you can read more about Agile Training here.

What Are the Scrum Events?

Scrum ceremonies are time-boxed meetings or events that ensure the three primary roles, including the scrum master, product owner, and development team, are in sync. These scrum ceremonies, or events, are conducted at particular instances during the Agile sprint cycle, which we will outline below. Sprint planning, daily Scrum, sprint review, sprint retrospective, and product backlog meeting are the five scrum events. Scrum is an Agile project management foundation, and people might get confused between the various terminologies. For instance, the terms scrum events, Agile ceremonies, scrum ceremonies, scrum meetings, and Agile meetings are frequently used interchangeably or in place of each other. Although the agendas for these scrum events are similar or related, it's important to note the key differences between the Agile framework and scrum teams.

As mentioned above, Scrum events are often known as Scrum ceremonies. Scrum ceremonies were used in the 90s and probably borrowed or taken from some other Agile methodology. However, it never really used or appeared in the official Scrum Guide, wherein the official term has always been "scrum events" since its initial version, which was published in 2010.

The Scrum framework specifies three primary roles that play an essential part in the Scrum Team; the product owner, scrum master, and Development team member. Apart from these significant roles, you should also expect to have some other Stakeholders onboard, such as Business Analysts in the large-scale organization. Most probably, the Scrum framework requires four specific roles:

  • The owner of the product (Product owner): The person with the vision and idea of the product 
  • The Scrum master: A scrum professional or expert that helps the product development team to build the product according to the rules of the Scrum foundation. 
  • Development team: It consists of the members who are going to execute the development plan. 
  • Other stakeholders: These stakeholders include the people with a genuine interest in the product. The people who keep on reviewing the product regularly and continue giving feedback.

5 Scrum Events or Ceremonies

A sprint is an event with a fixed length of a maximum of 30 days or one month, containing all the other events. Five Scrum events are held during a sprint, including the Sprint, Sprint Planning, Daily Scrum, Sprint Review, and Sprint Retrospective. This introductory and explanatory guide will give you all the details of the events conducted within a sprint.

scrum events

1. The Sprint Planning

This is the initial ceremony of the Scrum event, which helps set up the entire team for the upcoming sprint. Moreover, a Sprint planning event creates a seamless and easy pathway for a successful and engaging sprint. This event requires or mandates the participation of the three major and primary roles, including the development team, the Scrum master, and the product owner. As mentioned above, the sprint has a fixed length, and sprint planning lasts an hour or two before the sprint's commencement.

In the planning phase, the product owner joins the Scrum meeting with a list of essential product backlog requirements or items, which is then presented to the development team. These items are also referred to as user stories, which are discussed within the team before developing the product. From the information gathered by the product owner, the development team makes a forecast referred to as a sprint forecast, which states how much work can be completed by the team from the product backlog list. This is known as the sprint backlog.

Moreover, some sprint events or ceremonies will present user stories to define the scope of work to the participants. However, other scrum ceremonies might focus on one storyline, ensuring that the upcoming sprint is only directed toward user stories that can be tackled. This process also makes the sprint planning process shorter in time duration. After this, the team can easily use the Scrum board to plan the upcoming sprint.

  • When: On the first day of the sprint.
  • Duration: It lasts for a maximum of eight hours in a one-month sprint. However, if the sprint is shorter, say for two weeks, the sprint planning meeting will last four hours.
  • Participants: The entire scrum team; Scrum master, product owner, and other team members.
  • Input: A product backlog presented by the product owner, with a specific number of product backlog items (PBIs) 
  • Output: The sprint goal (Why), the items taken from the product backlog (What), and a well-structured plan to reach the sprint goal.

2. Daily Scrum:

The daily Scrum is a short scrum ceremony or event conducted to ensure everyone within the team is well-informed about the project. This is not a detailed, informative meeting to dive deep into the scrum process. Rather it is a short, fun, and engaging session to ensure transparency across the team members. In this meeting, the team members can answer the following questions:  

  • What did you do yesterday?  
  • What specific goals are you working on today?  
  • Is there anything blocking your progress? 

The daily Scrum is conducted every day with the development team members, scrum master, and scrum owner. The scrum ceremony or meeting is short, usually lasting for 15 minutes. It is also referred to as the standup meeting. The most appealing aspect of the process is that the Daily Scrum asks for accountability. People in the development team report honestly on what they will do, what is blocking their progress, and what they have done till now. This process forces or motivates individuals to perform well because it would be embarrassing in front of their peers not to show progress. 

  • When the daily Scrum is conducted: Every working day in the morning at a specific time 
  • Duration: Usually 15 minutes 
  • Participants: The daily Scrum is the only event in the scrum guide that the development team members autonomously conduct.  
  • Output: A quick sprint backlog if required 
  • How to run the event: It is decided by the developers and different for each sprin

3. Sprint Review

In the Sprint review, the team members are asked to showcase or present their work together. This is conducted after the sprint, and in this meeting, each team member reviews the newly invented features and the work they did during the sprint. In addition, Sprint Review provides development team members with a comfortable space to congratulate themselves and their team members on completing a successful sprint and ask for reviews and feedback from product stakeholders.

Unlike other scrum events or ceremonies, this event's duration depends on the time the team takes to demonstrate and present the entire work. Moreover, the participants are product owners, development team members, scrum masters, and product stakeholders.

The Sprint review must be conducted thoroughly, which simply means a complete demonstration of the work. Otherwise, the purpose of conducting a Sprint review gets void. Thus, the review must meet the conditions of the quality setup, or it will be considered incomplete.

  • When: Conducted on the last day of the sprint. 
  • Duration: Maximum four hours for a longer sprint and two hours for a shorter sprint. 
  • Participants: The product owner, scrum master, development team, and stakeholders, including the users.  
  • Output: A new and revised list of product backlog or the release strategy. 
  • How to run the event: Starting from an inception phase which is further followed by an adaptation phase.

4. Sprint Retrospective

Sprint Retrospective is the last sprint event or ceremony after the Sprint review's completion. In this scrum ceremony or event, the entire team takes part, including the development team, product owner, and scrum master or expert. As Scrum is a part of an Agile development process, the foundation and the basic meaning of Scrum are change and progress. In addition, the scrum methodology constantly improves the reviews and feedback from the stakeholders. Hence, the Sprint retrospective is just a method that ensures that the development team's culture is followed and improved.

It is the best way a team can judge and understand the circumstances that have worked in their favor and what things didn't work out during the previous sprint. A sprint retrospective is more of a post-mortem analysis that exposes the fault lines within the team and the progress so that in the next sprint, the team can work on those fault lines and come out stronger and better.

Constructive criticism is the key to the scrum ceremonies, specifically sprint retrospectives. Moreover, it is not a blame game. Instead, this event ensures that the issues that came up during the sprint are rectified and an instrument through which the team members can congratulate each other in a comfortable space.

  • When: Conducted on the last day of the sprint after the sprint review meeting. 
  • Duration: Maximum of three hours and shorter for short sprints. 
  • Participants: The product owner (PO), development team, and scrum master (SM).  
  • Output: The output of this event is an improvised plan

5. Product backlog refinement

Product backlog refinement is also referred to as the product backlog meeting or grooming session, conducted towards the end of the sprint. The principal rationale behind the grooming session is to review the product backlog list and keep track of it. Then, the product owner and the scrum team members participate in the meeting and start picking up the initial items in the backlog list by asking questions in the sprint planning ceremony.

Some of the questions asked in the product backlog meeting:  

  1. What should be done if the user's data is wrong?  
  2. Do all users have access to this part of the system?  
  3. Other what-if situations?

The purpose of a product backlog meeting is not to resolve the issues entirely but rather a chance for the product owner and development team to ensure that the backlog list is accurate. 

  • When: Towards the end of the sprint 
  • Duration: Between 45 minutes to one hour and more 
  • Participants: The product owner and the development team 
  • Output: An accurate backlog list

Conclusion

Scrum ceremonies of events are a great way to improve and work faster while developing a product. However, scrum is an Agile development process, and to conduct the sprint for any project, the team needs to master the rules of the Scrum framework under the leadership of a scrum master (SM). We also recommend to check out Knowledgehut Agile Training for Agile certifications and more information on scrum.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What are the five meetings in Scrum?

  • Sprint planning 
  • Daily Scrum meetings 
  • Sprint review  
  • Sprint retrospective meeting  
  • Product backlog refinement  

2. What are the 7 Scrum artifacts?

  • Product Vision 
  • Product Backlog 
  • Sprint Vision 
  • Sprint Backlog 
  • Definition of Done (DOD) 
  • Product Increment 
  • Burndown Chart 

3. What are the five Agile ceremonies?

  • Sprint planning 
  • Daily Scrum meetings 
  • Sprint review  
  • Sprint retrospective meeting  
  • Product backlog refinement  

4. Who owns the sprint backlog?

The entire Agile process team, including the scrum master, product owner, and development team, have access to the sprint backlog.

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Simran Kaur Arora

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