Agile meetings: Types, goals, and benefits

How many meetings are there in agile?

Agile Development came about as a response to slow and cumbersome traditional software development methodologies. Developers wanted a more nimble, user-focused model. They wanted to make changes and create software that met stakeholder requirements quickly and precisely.

Agile development focuses on the needs of the customer and end-users. The development cycle is a transparent process. The process fosters stakeholder involvement and participation at every step. 

Agile developers use scrum to organize their teams and process. According to scrum.com, “the fundamental unit of Scrum is a small team of people, a Scrum Team. The Scrum Team consists of one Scrum Master, one Product Owner, and Developers.” The scrum team schedules several meetings to keep focus. Scrum uses short work intervals, called sprints, to tackle a part of a project. The team sets a finite timeline to complete the sprint.

Kanban gives teams a visual way to improve their workflow. Kanban originated in Japan after World War Two. Japanese managers, inspired by supermarkets, wanted a way to simplify inventory. They noticed that in a supermarket customers took only what they needed. They wanted to apply the same principle to manufacturing, keeping stock only of what they needed at the moment. Kanban aims to have inventory match actual consumption.

In software development, teams use Kanban to organize their resources and present their projects with complete transparency. They post work items on a Kanban board for all to see.

Agile methodology usually encourages six different meeting types:

  1. Sprint planning meeting

The first meeting they set is the sprint planning meeting. The team decides what tasks to tackle in the sprint. They decide what backlog items to tackle. Sprint planning meetings should not take longer than one hour for each week of the sprint.

purposeSet sprint goals and define backlog items
attendeesProduct owner, scrum master, and scrum team
durationNo more than two hours per week of the sprint
benefitsOpens communication channels, sets goals and commitment to effective collaboration

During the sprint planning meeting, the product owner explains high-priority features. They will also describe user stories the team will address during the sprint. The whole team and stakeholders should openly communicate goals and limitations.

Tips for sprint planning meetings:

  • Timebox! Set a time limit for the meeting and stick to it
  • Scrum teams should set realistic goals and openly communicate them to stakeholders
  • Agree on what “done” looks like for the items in the sprint
  1. Daily scrum meeting

Another scrum meeting happens daily. These daily scrum meetings should take very little time, they are often referred to as stand-up meetings. In these meetings the scrum team answers three questions:

  • What did the team do yesterday?
  • What will the team do today?
  • Are there any roadblocks in the way?
purposeGives teams time to meet and review progress toward the sprint goal. They also will identify any possible roadblocks or sprint bottlenecks
attendeesScrum master and team, Product owners, and stakeholders as needed
duration15 minutes
benefitsAllows team to sync up, builds trust, and allows for adjustments within the sprint

During daily scrum meetings the team gathers at the scrum board. Each team member gives a progress report. They discuss their previous day’s work, what they will do for this day, and any problems. The scrum master helps the team find solutions to any problems.

Tips for daily standup meetings:

  • The daily stand-up should be time-boxed
  • Should be held at the same place or location and time every day
  • Each member of the team should participate
  1. Sprint review

Development teams using scrum also have a sprint review meeting. In the sprint review meeting, the team discusses the sprint, what went well and what they want to improve upon. They give stakeholders a view of their process. They demonstrate new features created in the sprint.  They will also define the product backlog.

purposePresent results of the sprint
attendeesScrum master and team, Product owners and stakeholders
durationNo longer than 4 hours
benefitsEngages stakeholders and teams, builds team collaboration, maximizes quality

In a sprint review, the whole team and stakeholders meet to discuss the sprint goal. The team gives a presentation highlighting completed tasks, new features, and bug fixes.

Tips for a great Sprint review:

  • Timebox, don’t let the meeting go on past time! (Notice the theme coming up here again)
  • Prepare for the meeting, but only about an hour should be necessary
  • Focus on user experience and value, don’t get abstract

Read our Sprint Reviews and Sprint Retrospectives: What’s the Difference? article to learn more about sprint review.

  1. Backlog refining /grooming meeting

Next, the team will have a meeting to refine the backlog. This meeting gives the team a chance to review items on the backlog. They do this to ensure the backlog contains the right items. They also prioritize the items, making sure items that are at the top of the backlog are ready for delivery.

purposeTo review items on the backlog to ensure the backlog contains the appropriate items, that are prioritized, and items that are at the top of the backlog are ready for delivery.
attendeesScrum master and team, Product owner
duration45 minutes to one hour
benefitsClearly defines requirements, makes sure backlog contains the most relevant items, saves time during future sprint planning meetings

Backlog grooming meetings happen regularly. During the meeting, the team refines the user stories to remove those that are irrelevant. They will also add new stories as needed. They also correct time estimates.

Tips for backlog grooming meetings:

  • Define action items
  • Define risks and unknows
  • Set a meeting goal

Learn more on The Importance of Backlog Grooming in Agile.

  1. Sprint retrospective

After backlog grooming, the team will have a sprint retrospective. In the sprint retrospective, the team discusses the completed sprint and determines any changes to improve the next sprint.

purposeReview completed sprint, decide on improvements needed for next sprint
attendeesScrum master and team, Product owner if needed
durationMaximum three hours for a one-month sprint
benefitsTime for reflection on process and work style. Teams can find paths to improvement. Gives teams a greater sense of ownership. Promotes teams’ self-management

During a sprint retrospective, the team examines the completed sprint. They discuss what went well and what they need to prepare for in the next sprint. They review backlog items completed and bugs that they have fixed.

Tips for a great sprint retrospective meeting:

  • Keep to the facts
  • Communicate with honesty and kindness
  • Keep the comments constructive
  1. Release planning meeting

Teams set up release planning meetings to sketch out an overview of items they hope to accomplish. They use the meeting to set delivery schedules and long-term goals. This meeting is a great time for product owners to communicate their expectations. It’s also a great time for developers to set reasonable expectations on workflow.

purposeSet an overall plan for future sprints, set long-term goals
attendeesScrum master and team, Product owner and stakeholders  if needed
durationOne or two days, as needed depending on length of the spring
benefitsLets the team define a common vision, sets cross-team dependencies, lets teams make informed decisions based on capacity and ability

During a release planning meeting, the development team and scrum master set long-term goals. The scrum master will guide the team to make estimates on future sprints. They will make changes to their goals based on user stories and changes in a team capacity.

Tips for a great release planning meeting:

  • Define what “done” looks like for the backlog items
  • Stakeholders must be present and engaged
  • Set the agenda in advance
  • Set a limit for release deadlines

Here at Blocshop, we organize our agile teams using Scrum. Our meetings give results, using the time efficiently. Our teams understand how to build a sprint that delivers results on time and on budget. If you’d like to learn more about how Blocshop could help your business using agile, please do get in touch!

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