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What Happens When During a Sprint: A Comprehensive Guide

Image: A visual representation of a two-week sprint process. In successful Scrum implementations, sprint events or ceremonies play a crucial role. These events, including sprint planning, sprint review, daily scrum, and sprint retrospective, ensure effective...

A sample two-week sprint is shown, beginning with sprint planning on day one, continuing with optional backlog refinement and backlog estimating activities during the sprint, and concluding with a sprint review and sprint retrospective on the last day of the sprint. Each day of the sprint there is a 15-minute daily scrum. Image: A visual representation of a two-week sprint process.

In successful Scrum implementations, sprint events or ceremonies play a crucial role. These events, including sprint planning, sprint review, daily scrum, and sprint retrospective, ensure effective collaboration and progress. However, there's often confusion about the participants, timing, duration, and purpose of each event. To bring clarity, we have created infographics that provide answers for sprints of different durations.

Sprint Planning

The sprint planning event marks the official start of the sprint. It involves the Scrum Master, product owner, and development team. On rare occasions, other participants may attend with mutual agreement. The duration of the sprint planning ceremony is proportional to the length of the sprint, with a recommended target of completing it in about half the maximum allocated time.

The Scrum Master provides data on the team's velocity, while the product owner brings the product backlog and a draft sprint goal. The outputs of sprint planning include a well-prepared team, a sprint backlog, and an agreed-upon sprint goal.

Daily Scrum

The daily scrum, often referred to as the daily standup, is a short 15-minute meeting where team members synchronize their efforts. It ensures that everyone is working on the right tasks at the right time. Each participant addresses three topics: their previous day's contributions, plans for the current day, and any obstacles impeding their progress.

Participants typically include the Scrum Master, development team, and the product owner. While there is some debate on whether the product owner should participate, including them fosters a collaborative mindset within the team. The daily scrum is limited to 15 minutes and should allow enough time for meaningful updates and discussions.

Sprint Review

The sprint review event takes place on the last day of the sprint and involves the product owner, Scrum Master, development team, and relevant stakeholders. The duration of the sprint review is time-boxed, ranging from one hour to a maximum of four hours, depending on the sprint duration.

During the sprint review, the team showcases all the product backlog items that meet their definition of done. Feedback is solicited to refine the product backlog, and discussions are conducted to address progress and address any challenges. The output of the sprint review is a revised product backlog.

Sprint Retrospective

The sprint retrospective provides an opportunity for the team to reflect on their work and identify areas for improvement. It not only covers aspects of Scrum but also general teamwork dynamics. The sprint retrospective should be attended by the entire team, including the Scrum Master and product owner, to foster a collaborative environment.

The sprint retrospective is formally time-boxed to three hours, although most teams complete it within an hour. The output of the retrospective is a list of changes and improvements the team will implement, often recorded as an improvement backlog.

Product Backlog Refinement

Product backlog refinement ensures that the top items in the backlog are well-prepared for the next sprint. It involves adding details, estimating, deleting or splitting items, adjusting priorities, and creating new items. While not mandatory as a formal ceremony, most teams conduct regular refinement meetings.

Product backlog refinement meetings should not exceed 10% of the team's total available time. It is beneficial for the entire team, including the product owner and Scrum Master, to participate. The outputs of this ceremony include refined product backlog items and a better understanding of the upcoming work.

Backlog Estimating

Backlog estimating is often done during product backlog refinement meetings. However, if only a subset of the team participates in refinement, estimating may be done in a separate meeting once per sprint. The estimating events should be short, focusing on important new backlog items or refined items that fit within the upcoming sprint.

To ensure timely adjustments to priorities, estimating is recommended a few days before the end of the sprint. It is not advisable to estimate backlog items during sprint planning to avoid unnecessary time consumption.

Prioritization

Before each new sprint, the product owner ensures that the top items in the product backlog are prioritized. Prioritization is a crucial step where tasks, problems, or features are arranged in order of importance. This process is typically done by the product owner after conversations with stakeholders to understand their needs.

Prioritization should be done as late as possible in the current sprint, ensuring it is completed before the next one begins. It is often a fine-tuning process based on progress and learnings, rather than a complete re-prioritization of the entire backlog.

Conclusion

Understanding the events and ceremonies that take place during a sprint is essential for a successful Scrum implementation. By following the outlined guidelines, teams can collaborate effectively, streamline processes, and deliver valuable results. Share your thoughts or experiences with these events in the comments below.

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