How sprint ceremonies can increase collaboration, communication, and continuous improvement

Some teams who are new to agile think it is a very loose way of doing work. In reality, agile requires a good deal of discipline. There are multiple ceremonies throughout the sprint, each with a specific purpose. These ceremonies provide greater communication and visibility throughout the course of the sprint and allow teams to continue to improve. Here is a simple explanation of each sprint ceremony to help give a high-level understanding of how they are carried out regularly throughout the iteration.

Sprint planning

The sprint planning event is held at the beginning of each sprint for the sprint team to go through the prioritized backlog, discuss user stories, and determine what stories they’ll commit to completing within this sprint.

During the sprint planning meeting, the team discusses the stories that make up the prioritized backlog. It is important to make sure everyone understands what is needed to complete them.  The product owner answers questions the team has about the stories. If needed, they will add any additional information such as requirements, acceptance criteria, and other information needed.

Once the team has a good understanding of the story, they estimate the story size as a team. The team determines their capacity for the sprint. They factor in vacations, holidays, or other time away from working on stories for the sprint. The team then determines how much work they will be able to complete during the sprint and what stories they commit to completing.  

Who attends: Product owner, scrum master, the development team.

When:  At the beginning of each sprint.

Duration: Approximately an hour per week duration of the sprint (a two-week sprint starts with a two-hour sprint planning meeting) (Note: your team may need a longer meeting at the beginning as you get accustomed to these activities).

Daily stand-up

The daily stand-up meeting provides an opportunity for the team members to quickly share information with one another about progress in the sprint. This is not meant to be a status meeting.

Each person answers the following three questions:

  • What did you do yesterday?
  • What will you do today?
  • Do you have any impediments?

The scrum master needs to know about roadblocks and impediments to be able to help remove them for the team, so the team can continue to move forward in their work. The team can also determine if other more in-depth conversations are needed with any other team members based on the information shared. If so, these conversations can happen after the short stand-up meeting, either immediately after or later in the day.

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