Understanding Scrum #2
Welcome to the second article on understanding scrum, following the first one I posted a few weeks back here. As mentioned I am compiling information in Q&A format which I am happy to share with you here. As promised today I will go into scrum events. What they are? What’s their purpose?
What is a Sprint?
The sprint is the heart of scrum. It is a time box of 1 month or less during which work is done. Work created in a sprint is use-able and potentially releasable product increment. A new sprint usually starts at the end of the previous one. Each sprint has a sprint goal which is the goal that the team agrees to achieve in this period. This includes; what is to be built, the plan that will guide building it and the results of the sprint, ie, what the product increment will be. The sprint contains a number of events that are meant to make the sprint more efficient and transparent and allows the team to inspect and adapt. These events are;
The development work
The Sprint Review
The Sprint Retrospective
What happens during a sprint?
During a sprint, it is important that no changes are made that would impact the Sprint goal. Nothing around quality goals decrease and the concept of “Done” of any of the work remains as agreed among the team. The scope of the sprint may be clarified, re-negotiated between the Product Owner and the team as more about how to achieve the work is learnt throughout the sprint.
What are the different Scrum events and why are they important?
This is a planning session for the work to be done in the Sprint. This plan is created collaboratively by the entire Scrum Team. This planning session is time boxed to a maximum of 8 hours for a one month sprint or less for shorter sprints. The session answers the following questions;
- What can be delivered in the upcoming sprint?
- How will the work needed to deliver the increment be achieved?
This is usually done in this way;
- The product owner explains the objective and the backlog items that if completed would achieve the sprint goal
- The entire team collaborates on understand the work of the Sprint and the product owner is at hand to clarify any questions for the team
- The development team assesses the functionality based on how it will build it into a “Done” product increment
- The development team estimates the backlog items and what they can accomplish in the upcoming Sprint.
- This determines what is called the Sprint Backlog
- The development team self organises itself to take on the work of the sprint during both the planning and throughout the sprint.
By the end of the Sprint planning the development team should be able to explain to the Product Owner and Scrum Master how it intends to work achieve the Sprint goal and develop the agreed work.
From experience, I can confirm that this is one of the most important events in the sprint. This is a 15 minute time boxed event for the Development team. This meeting is held every day of the Sprint and during which the development team plans work for the next 24 hours. The meeting helps with the collaboration of the team, and inspects the work done since the last scrum and looks at upcoming work. This meetings allows the team to inspect the progress of the Sprint on a daily basis and what the trend is towards achieving the Sprint goal. Three questions are usually answered by each member during this meeting;
- What did I do yesterday?
- What will I do today?
- Do I see any impediment that prevents me or the team from achieving the Sprint goal?
This meeting is for the Development team. The Scrum Master is there to ensure that the team has the meeting and teaches the team to keep it to a 15 minute time box. The benefits of this meeting are;
- improve communications
- eliminate other meetings
- identify impediments so that they can be tackled immediately
- promote quick decision making
- improve the team’s level of knowledge
The sprint review is the event that takes places at the end of the sprint to review the work down and adapt the backlog if this is required. Those attending the meeting will collaborate to review what has been done and identify the next things that should be done in order to optimise value of the work done by the team. This meeting is intended to present the features or increment worked on and gather feedback and foster collaboration. This should not be more than a 4 hour meeting for a 1 month sprint. The attendees should understand the purpose of the meeting and it is the job of the Scrum Master to ensure of this. The attendees to this meeting are the scrum team and any stakeholders that are invited by the Product Owner. This meeting ideally takes the following format;
The product owner explains what has been done and what has not been done
The development team discusses what went well and what problems they had and how they solved them
The development team demos the work done and answers any questions the attendees might have
The product owner gives information about where the product backlog stands and discusses targets and delivery date based on progress.
A discussion of what should happen next takes place so that this provides input to the sprint planning that follows.
The sprint retrospective is the event where the Scrum Team inspects itself and thinks of how it can improve during the next sprint. This meetings takes places after the Sprint Review and before the Sprint Planning. This is at most a 3 hour meeting. It is important that the attendees of this meeting understand its purpose and the Scrum Master should ensure that the meeting is positive and productive. The meeting is intended to inspect how the last sprint went with regards to not just the work done but also the people, the relationship between the team, the processes used and the tools. Each member contributes to a list of things that went well and potential improvements. By the end of this meeting the Scrum team would have identified a number of improvements that it will implement in the next sprint. This meeting is a means to inspect and adapt and puts focus on this specifically.
Does this way of working interest you and would like to apply it with your team and your projects? Get in touch to discuss your questions, requirements and projects.