Agile Ceremonies: Definition, Structure, And Possibilities

Agile Ceremonies_ Definition, Structure, And Possibilities
Jesus Sanz/
Summary: Have you ever heard about the fuel that actually pushes agile workflow forward? On today’s agenda, we present 4 agile ceremonies which form every project lifecycle.

The Concept Of Agile Ceremony

Agile ceremonies are regular team events held to get the most out of any iterative development process. As with everything in agile, there is absolutely no sense in running them at all if they contradict your normal workflow. Every team just chooses whatever fits into their structure. However, what really matters is that such meetings are marked by crystal-clear objectives and a specific structure. Thus, teams are empowered to deliver their projects on time and at the lowest cost.

These events are impossible to imagine without the following participants:

  • Development team
    Cross-functional specialists from a variety of professions, including UX designers, product managers, programmers, etc. Basically, people with those skills are needed to deliver a digital product.
  • Product owner
    The person who, in the simplest terms, represents the business and its value. So, it is they who have to find an equilibrium between all stakeholders and their needs.
  • Scrum master
    The agile ceremonies specialist. They're the mediators who guide everyone involved throughout the whole ceremony.

The roles are optional and interchangeable between team members. Still, every employee must be informed of others' roles as soon as possible.

The 4 Agile Ceremonies

1. Sprint Planning

The first agile ceremony is a collective discussion, during which tasks should be assigned for the upcoming sprint as well as who is going to perform them. It is normally held at the beginning of each sprint and takes about one hour per week. Here, all the players are involved: the product owner shares a product backlog with all the details needed to estimate story points with the development team. Then, the scrum master provides the team with a supportive and efficient atmosphere. To manage this event properly, the product owner should set a particular goal for the future sprint and prioritize tasks. In turn, the development team should assess their strengths and come up with a realistic sprint backlog. For such needs, a built-in sprint planner might come in very handy. Teams can rearrange issues with the feature of drag-and-drop, which significantly facilitates the whole process of planning.

2. Daily Stand-Up

The second agile ceremony is represented by a 15- to 20-minute team meeting or a call every morning. This event is about making everyone stay on the same page. Quite informally and briefly, employees report on their work updates. If necessary, they may ask for advice or assistance. To check the progress of each person, the scrum master often uses project management tools and filters a sprint board by the assignee. The main thing here is not to make these conversations long, as some profound discussions will happen later. So, it is better to avoid any technical discussion.

3. Sprint Review

During the third agile ceremony, employees present what they have managed to do and get valuable feedback from their colleagues and external stakeholders, like clients, management, etc. It is when the progress of each person is usually evaluated. Moreover, this one-hour event includes discussions on what to do during the next sprint. This time, the product owner asks each stakeholder involved whether they are satisfied with the demo version or not. They must be prepared to dispel their doubts in the event of anything. The scrum master oversees the organizational part. We highly recommend that every time you hold this agile get-together, you acknowledge your colleagues’ efforts. First, make a compliment about the work they have done and comment on what they can improve next time. Apart from the user experience, be ready to also defend your team's interests in front of other stakeholders.

4. Sprint Retrospective

The final agile ceremony, which usually lasts 45 minutes or one hour after each sprint review, is about analysis. With hindsight, the team discusses what has worked out and what has not. This event is of high importance because it helps everyone develop an action plan and improve their performance in the near future. Here we come to the role of scrum master once again. This specialist should create a safe space and encourage every employee to openly share their feelings, not just dry facts. So, for example, it is a good idea to mention that anything said will be used for better results, not against team members. This way, it's possible to see the bigger picture, comprehend how to nail the whole workflow and avoid old mistakes. Our last tip is to make notes consistently. Thus, you will be able to notice recurring red flags and work on them together with the team.

eBook Release: RedmineUP
All-in-one project management tool based on Open Source Redmine solution and featured with additional functional modules. Manage Agile projects with SCRUM/Kanban, deliver billing, CRM, Helpdesk, HR, IT development, and other processes.