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Key Discussions (a-k-a meetings) that happen in AGILE – Scrum

by Swaraj Gupta

Agile – Scrum is all about communication, cooperation and interaction. It is also about keeping oneself open to changes, thus product improvement, self-improvement and incremental problem solving. Through some of the key meetings that happen in Scrum, we will get to know how each of the above points are taken care of –

Daily stand-up meeting: ¨

A scrum meeting is a very essential component of AGILE Scrum. It keeps the team on the toes, energized and focused to the target. It keeps the team members on the track of the business goals and helps them remain focused. It is a meeting in which every team member provides status update to one another. Participants get to know about what the other team member is working on, what is his next plan and what are the hurdles / obstacles that he is facing. In case any team member is capable to help the person facing hurdles he helps the person and resolves his issues. Otherwise scrum master gets into the game, discusses with people from the team and outside the team and resolves the issue of the team member who is facing the issue. The term ‘stand up’ has been derived from the practice of having people stand during the meetings and time boxing the meetings to 15 minutes so that essential items are discussed briefly and core task of building the product is started quickly. Standing position acts as a reminder to every team member that the meeting has to be completed in the time that it is allotted with. The standup meeting is also at times termed as ‘roll call’ or ‘daily scrum’.

During this meeting every team member is expected to answer three key questions –

  • What did he accomplish yesterday?
  • What is his plan for today?
  • Is there any issue / problem that is impacting him to proceed?

Spring planning meeting:

In a scrum development lifecycle, every meeting starts with a sprint planning meeting. Typically these meetings are time-boxed to a maximum of 4 hours. Product owners put forward the business goals, functionalities that the team needs to tackle in the coming sprint and the team then further discusses upon which stores seem feasible and which ones have an impediment. It is essential to take the team’s opinion since the team is aware of the impediments since they are battling the field from the battle ground.

Product owner decides the priority of the stories (the ones which have been agreed to by the developer) and adds the ones which have been identified for the sprint into the sprint backlog. The stories moved to the next sprints would move to the product backlog.

The PBIs assigned for a sprint are then broken into tasks. During the sprint planning meeting the team can either plan to assign tasks to the team members or the team as a whole can take the responsibility of the PBIs, volunteer for the tasks during the sprint and complete those.

Sprint Review Meeting:

It is an important discussion that happens at the end of every sprint. In this meeting the stakeholders get together and discuss upon what work they could complete in the last sprint and what part of the planned work remained incomplete. This meeting also includes the demo in which a demo of completed work is given to the entire team by the member who has completed the task / story. This is a timed meeting and can be planned to a time limit of 4 hours (in case of a 2 week sprint). The reasons behind the incomplete tasks are also discussed in this meeting and the next plan for those issues is discussed.

Sprint Retrospective Meeting:

Sprint retrospective meeting also happens at the end of the sprint. Like other meetings, this meeting is also facilitated and coordinated by the scrum master. Retrospective meetings are typically attended by every scrum team member – product owner, scrum master and the scrum team. It is time boxed meeting and is of 3 hour duration (on an average for a 2 weeks sprint). In this meeting, all of the team members reflect on the last sprint and try to understand ‘what went right’ and ‘what could have been done better’? It is based on the Toyota-lean principle of continuous improvement. As and when any improvement idea is identified, the team incorporates and implements within the team. Most teams follow start-stop-continue approach while going ahead with this meeting. What is identified is which of the activities / processes / tools the team should –

  • Start doing
  • Continue doing
  • Stop doing

To facilitate this approach, the scrum master can ask the team members in the retrospective meeting to shoot out ideas that they have and the suggestions that they can make for more efficient working of the team. Next sprints always begin with reviewing the ideas that were identified in the retrospective meetings.

Backlog Refinement Meeting:

Backlog refinement is also called backlog grooming meeting in which every scrum team member is required to attend. It is a formal component of the scrum process and the team is expected to dedicate 5% of the sprint to this task. During this meeting the team members are expected to add items to the backlog. The items that they can add include the stories, epics and the efforts associated with those stories. This task is also called backlog grooming and well groomed and cleaned backlog always adds a lot of value to the scrum teams in terms of saving a lot of time from the sprint planning meeting.

This post is also available in: French

About Swaraj Gupta

Swaraj is a performance, automation and functional test expert who has worked on variety of desktop and mobile applications. The major areas that he focuses on are - functionality, usability, performance and consistency of application behavior. He manages the entire performance testing cycle of the projects that he is responsible for and works on multiple such engagements simultaneously. He has worked in variety of different business domains that include - Hi tech consulting, Financial services, management consulting, auditing services, e commerce, e learning, etcT

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