The ultimate guide to Scrum meetings

11 min read
March 9, 2023

Scrum is perhaps one of the most popular and well-loved Agile methodologies.

A survey of developers showed that 61% of them used Scrum in their projects—more than any other framework.

It’s not hard to see why. Scrum is an exceptionally effective approach, and it allows teams to deliver impressive results in surprisingly short periods.

But Scrum can also be demanding and fast-paced. To make it work, you first need to master Scrum meetings.

This article will discuss Scrum meetings and why they’re crucial to the methodology.

What are Scrum meetings?

Scrum meetings are an important part of the Scrum methodology, which is an Agile project management framework.

If you’re not familiar with the framework, it’s an approach where the development cycle is divided into smaller iterations called sprints.

Each sprint lasts around 2-4 weeks and is like a mini-development cycle, which includes all the steps from planning to coding and testing.

At the end of each sprint is a review process, which gathers feedback to be applied to the next sprint.

Scrum methodology cycles

Source: DECODE

As you can see, Scrum is very fast-paced, which enables teams to tackle problems and iterate development quickly.

However, that requires constant communication, alignment, and organization to pull off.

That’s what Scrum meetings are for. They are held at key points in a sprint to ensure that the development team and essential stakeholders are in sync.

For example, daily Scrum meetings are held every day as a quick check-up to uncover any delays or roadblocks.

Then, there is also the retrospective meeting, a post-mortem analysis of the previous sprint that helps improve on the next one.

Scrum meetings require the presence of three critical roles—the Scrum master, the product owner, and the development team.

Scrum meeting roles

Source: EDUCBA

Briefly, the Scrum master manages the entire Scrum team, ensuring every sprint is on track. As such, they’re responsible for facilitating and planning Scrum meetings.

The product owner is either the client or the client’s representative. They ensure that the development is in line with the client’s overall goals.

And, of course, the development team is there to execute the sprint tasks.

Scrum meetings should be collaborative by nature, hence the diversity of the participants.

Everyone is treated as an equal and encouraged to discuss problems, offer solutions, or develop ideas.

Why are Scrum meetings important?

The Scrum methodology would be impossible to accomplish without Scrum meetings.

Sprints are demanding by nature, requiring teams to complete multiple complex tasks with tight deadlines. In this environment, any delays or obstacles can throw the entire sprint off-track.

Scrum meetings can help the team identify potential roadblocks early, so they can tackle them immediately and minimize any negative impact on the schedule.

benefits of Scrum meeting

Source: Chisel

Scrum meetings can also help keep your development on budget and schedule.

It’s easy for team members to start doing unnecessary tasks, which could waste time and money. Regular planning and check-up sessions ensure this never happens.

Furthermore, Scrum meetings can also improve the team itself, helping members become more efficient and collaborative over time.

Ultimately, this can help them create quality software and deliver great customer experiences.

That, in a nutshell, is why Scrum meetings are important.

In the following section, we’ll go into the specific benefits of each type of meeting.

What are the types of Scrum meetings?

Did you know that Scrum meetings are also called ceremonies? The term gives you an idea of the importance of the role these meetings play in the methodology.

Here’s an overview of the five Scrum ceremonies, listed in order in which they’re held in a sprint:

the 5 Scrum ceremonies

Source: Parabol

Let’s discuss each in greater detail.

Sprint planning

Sprint planning is the first Scrum meeting held at the start of every sprint.

As the name suggests, it’s where the team will plan what the coming sprint will look like—specifically, the tasks they’ll need to do and how they’ll do it.

The main activity in a sprint meeting is picking tasks from the product backlog.

A backlog is a list of all the tasks and goals needed for the entire project, ranked in order of priority by the product owner.

When the team commits to a task from the backlog, they move it to the sprint backlog. This task now becomes a goal for the current sprint.

sprint planning

Source: Seann Hicks

A sprint planning meeting is all about achieving balance. The team must get the right amount of work to ensure the project progresses quickly without burning out everyone.

A rule of thumb is that sprint planning shouldn’t last longer than two hours per sprint week, up to a maximum of eight hours, per The Scrum Guide.

So if you have a two-week sprint, planning should be less than four hours.

Daily Scrum

Daily Scrum meetings, also known as stand-up meetings, are short 15-minute sessions where the team gives quick updates on their tasks. It’s a necessary process to keep everyone on track.

As defined by The Scrum Guide:

The purpose of the Daily Scrum is to inspect progress toward the Sprint Goal and adapt the Sprint Backlog as necessary, adjusting the upcoming planned work.

Much of the flexibility of the Scrum methodology is partly thanks to these daily stand-ups, as it helps the team spot problem areas early.

They can solve them quickly or temporarily remove them from the backlog to keep up with the sprint schedule.

To help keep daily stand-up meetings concise and to the point, you can focus only on three simple questions:

3 questions for daily Scrum meetings

Source: Medium

Let’s examine each of them more closely.

What did you do yesterday?” helps keep track of the sprint’s progress. If it’s falling behind, the team can adjust the schedule as necessary.

Chronic delays could also mean the tasks may be too much or difficult for the team.

“What will you do today?” can keep everyone in the team aligned with each other’s tasks. It also helps keep everyone accountable.

“Is there anything in your way?” reveals any challenges your team might face.

This is a good opportunity to brainstorm a solution for any of these problems before they derail your team’s progress.

The questions we’ve just listed might be simple, but they allow you to cover all the critical points in your daily meeting.

Sprint review

Sprint reviews are done at the end of the sprint, lasting an average of 60 minutes, according to the Scrum guide.

In a sprint review, the Scrum team invites the client and other project stakeholders to check their work in the current sprint.

For example, if the sprint focused on the app’s UI design, a sprint review might go over a prototype or mockup.

sprint review

Source: Infinity

A sprint review aims to get feedback and suggestions from clients and key stakeholders. These are added to the project backlog so the team can work on them later.

The biggest benefit of a sprint review is that it allows clients to get more involved and potentially influence the project’s outcome.

Teams also use sprint reviews to determine whether the sprint goal was accomplished. Any unfinished task is returned to the backlog so that it can be picked up for the next sprint.

Sprint retrospective

A sprint retrospective is similar to a sprint review and also happens at the end of the sprint. But instead of analyzing the sprint task, this meeting examines how the team accomplished it.

purpose of a sprint retrospective

Source: Appinventiv

Everything is up for discussion, from the tools used to the performance of the Scrum team members.

Any good retrospective meeting first asks what went well in the last sprint. This can be a good way to celebrate wins and accomplishments to put the team in an optimistic mood.

Next, the team tackles any issues they faced during the sprint, be it a faulty process, a confusing method, or an underperforming member.

To encourage people to share freely, you can ask them to write down their thoughts anonymously on paper.

Lastly, you discuss each problem and brainstorm ways to improve on them.

In this way, a retrospective meeting becomes a continuous improvement tool and not just an opportunity to air complaints.

As a rule, retrospective meetings should last around 45 minutes for every sprint week.

Backlog refinement

Backlog refinement meetings are done throughout the sprint, often on a predetermined schedule.

These sessions aim to review the product backlog and ensure tasks are prioritized and relevant.

product backlog refinement

Source: Quick Scrum

As more items get added to the product backlog throughout development, it could get harder to sort through the list.

This can slow down sprint planning immensely because teams will have a harder time picking tasks.

Backlog refinement meetings can avoid these issues. Here, the Scrum team discusses each item on the backlog and re-arranges it in order of priority.

They can also remove, merge, or add items as necessary.

For instance, at DECODE, we hold extensive backlog refinement meetings throughout development.

We often add discovery tasks, split existing ones, and plan release dates. Our aim is to streamline future sprint planning meetings.

How to run a Scrum meeting

Now that you know the importance of Scrum meetings, here are some best practices to consider.

Prepare ahead of time

Preparation is the most critical step in any successful meeting. Conducting them impromptu is a recipe for disaster.

The most critical task here is setting a clear objective and agenda for the meeting. Indeed, a recent survey reveals that they are the top factors most professionals believe contribute to a successful meeting.

key elements to a successful meeting

Source: Booqed

A clear agenda lets participants know what the meeting is about and its purpose, thus allowing them to prepare accordingly.

For instance, if it’s an app review meeting, people can prepare statistics or prototypes for review.

Furthermore, an agenda prevents the meeting from getting off-topic, as participants are told beforehand what to expect.

Set rules for the meeting

A concise, well-thought-out meeting agenda is useless if no one follows it. That’s why it’s necessary to also set the ground rules for the meeting.

Rules will vary depending on your team’s size and work culture. But generally, here are some that would always make sense.

First, enforce the policy that only one person speaks at a time. Doing this gives respect and space to the speaker to articulate their thoughts.

Also, multiple people speaking simultaneously can lead to a chaotic and confusing meeting.

Next, the speaker should always stick to the topic. We also recommend giving the Scrum master the power to interrupt the speaker if they go off-topic.

Lastly, it’s best to reserve questions until the end of the meeting.

Otherwise, the questions interrupt the speaker’s train of thought, which can prolong the meeting, especially if the speaker was already planning to address some of the issues.

Instead, encourage the participants to write down their queries on paper and bring them up at the end.

Here are some more rules to give you ideas:

12 ground rules for better strategic meetings

Source: Aecumen

The bottom line is that rules are crucial in a meeting. Without them, you risk losing productivity.

Stick to the meeting time

It’s very important to set a schedule for every Scrum meeting—including the start and end times—and stick to it.

This process is called timeboxing or setting aside a block of time in advance. Studies have shown that it’s an effective time management technique because it prevents procrastination.

timeboxing in a nutshell

Source: Four Week MBA

Timeboxing is essential with Scrum methodology because of its very strict deadlines. Even a few hours off daily can hinder the progress of the sprint in the long run.

This is especially true for daily stand-up meetings. Ideally, you must set a regular time when everyone is available, preferably first thing in the morning.

Now, what if people don’t show up? Well, there are ways to ensure attendance. But the most critical thing is to set a clear agenda and schedule the meeting in advance.

Need help with Scrum meetings?

Scrum meetings are easy in principle but can be hard to pull off in practice.

Meetings require a skilled Scrum master to effectively manage the session and steer the conversation.

On the other hand, it also requires participants that are engaged and willing to contribute.

In other words, good Scrum meetings require an equally effective Scrum team.

And when it comes to DECODE’s experience with the Scrum methodology, we believe we fit the bill nicely.

Schedule a consultation with us today, and see how our approach to Scrum can benefit your project!

Categories
Written by

Marin Luetic

CCO

A seasoned software engineering executive, Marin’s role combines his in-depth understanding of software engineering processes (particularly mobile) with product and business strategies. Humbly boasting 20+ years of international experience at the forefront of telecoms, Marin knows how to create and deliver state of the art software products to businesses of all sizes. Plus, his skills as a lifelong basketball player mean he can lead a team to victory. When he’s not hopping from meeting to meeting, you’ll find Marin listening to indie rock, or scouring the latest IT news.

Related articles