Team meetings for agile process

scrum meetingPlanning is a foundation of all works. Especially it’s important for project’s implementation. Team must set the main aim and to plan actions step by step. As Antoine de Saint – Exupery said “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” That is why planning is compulsory if you want to achieve the final result. Scrum teams always optimize the estimation and execution of work. Team uses short periods of time known as sprints. The sprint helps you not only to find the right balance in work but also if team faces with some problems sprint allows to change the scope or direction of the project at any point. Scrum has four kinds of sprint meetings: planning meeting, daily meeting, review meeting and retrospective meeting. Teams who prefer kanban than scrum know well about meetings called kaizen.

To start with, it is worth to briefly review each meeting. In scrum, every sprint starts with the planning meeting which is a one-day time boxed and most of cases are divided into limited session of 4 hours. This kind of meeting is organized on every 7-30 days, what means at the beginning of the sprint cycle. During this session the product owner defines the main goals, the highest priorities and features for the team which should be implemented until the end of the sprint. Moreover, each task must be estimated and prioritized as well as capacity of the team for the upcoming sprint. Team is able to voice concern or obstacles they think might face during sprint. This is a great thing, because in advance it allows the team to set obstacles which might keep the team from moving forward. Planning meetings are great of its variety of participants, because it involve not only product owner, team members but also scrummasters, stakeholders and more. For that reason it allows to prepare detailed sprint backlog: how many tasks should to be done during one sprint and how much time it will take to accomplish. After planning meeting when the main goals of a current project are defined, team is able to get to work.

To continue with Daily Scrum Meeting (or Daily Standup), which are organized every day and which duration depends on the size of the team. If your team is small (3-5 people) daily meeting shouldn’t be longer than 15 minutes. If your team has more than 5 people daily standup might last at about 30 minutes, but of course, it’s not a rule. Sometimes might happen that an issue cannot be covered in that amount of time, so in this case concerns ought to be handled after the meeting in so called “sidebar” meeting. This will help to have efficient meetings instead of irrelevant ones. Daily scrum meeting is short term and ideally organized during start of the new day. Because of its short length stand up meeting should have certain system to avoid random discussion, otherwise this might become totally time-consuming and might remove the focus of entire team. For this reason Daily meetings has specific guidelines which are:

  • each team member has to be prepared with the updates of his own task;
  • don’t be late, because the meeting starts precisely on time;
  • meeting should be organized at the same location and ideally in the morning.

During every daily meeting each team member should be prepared to answer to three main questions: what did he do yesterday, does he have any obstacles in his way and what he is going to do next. This shows current situation of tasks and promotes closer relationships between colleagues. Furthermore, the structure of the meeting provides the opportunity to identify issues before they become too complicated or indefinable.

What is the next step? After sprint is done team has to present its work to the product owner in review meeting. The key elements of this meeting are: team shows to product owner which backlog items they completed. Very important thing is not to demonstrate backlog items which are not done yet. Incomplete items should be implemented in one of the following sprints. This kind of meeting is informal and should have limited time (no longer than 4 hours). The scrum team presents to stakeholders and product owner what was achieved. During the review meeting it is accepted the solutions how to improve or adapt functionality. When this level is finished team is able to go forward to the next type of meeting.

The fourth kind of scrum meeting is known as retrospective meeting in which entire scrum team and scrum master get together to check three important things: what went well during the sprint, what didn’t and what improvements could be made in the next sprint. This meeting is held at the end of the sprint and is time-boxed to 3 hours. The main purpose of this meeting is to learn of mistakes the team made during the sprint and not to repeat it again. In retrospective meeting team discuss what works, what does not work and try to find a way out how sprint could be adjusted. This ensures that the team is always improving the way it works.

The last but not least meeting is kaizen. This kind of meeting is relevant for teams which use lean methodology called kanban.  The main point of this meeting is to focus on continuous improvements of processes or targeted activities of an organization. Whereas the meeting is intended for the development and improvement of the process, therefore it doesn’t have strict time limits comparing to scrum meetings and take as much time as team needs. During the meeting team members discuss about instructions, development, define problems and current situation, brainstorming ideas and solutions for problems and compare results to targets. The action plan is being implemented step by step, that’s why kaizen provides just in time process improvements.

As you can see meetings are extremely important for organizations. What kind of meeting will be useful and efficient depends on team and organization type. Meetings allow the team to get feedback about each release, each team member actions and to ensure maximum value. Furthermore, it helps identify problems on time, to eliminate mistakes and avoid failures. Communicate and share information with your colleagues and improve organization productivity!

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