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Scrum Ceremonies: A Beginner’s Guide

A Scrum Ceremony is a type of scrum event or meeting that is intended to help move projects forward in a more timely and efficient manner. These ceremonies occur at key points in the production process, emphasizing organized collaboration and communication between team members to help simplify complex development processes and queues. For example, Daily Scrum is a ceremony held every morning to go over which items have been completed, which are being worked on, and which are coming up.

The five scrum ceremonies include the following scrum events:

  1. Sprint Planning: Held at the beginning of a sprint to determine the sprint backlog and set team expectations.
  2. Daily Stand-Up/Scrum: A quick 15 minute ceremony held daily – often at the start of the day – to quickly inform all scrum team members of how items are progressing across the team.
  3. The Sprint: The sprint itself is considered an event during which scrum team members work together to complete the sprint backlog.
  4. Sprint/Iteration Review: Held at the end of a sprint or specific milestone to review and showcase completed work.
  5. Retrospective: Held at the end of an iteration to analyze what worked and any issues that came up during the iteration. The goal of the retrospective ceremony is to encourage continuous improvement and drive development forward in the best way possible.

What’s so critical about scrum and other agile methodologies is that there is a clear and shared understanding of the production lifecycle among all team members and stakeholders. Scrum ceremonies are the glue that helps keep things organized and moving forward.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at these five scrum ceremonies, which scrum team members are involved, when each meeting is typically held and for how long, as well as the purpose of each scrum ceremony.

Agile Methodologies & Scrum

No matter the company or its size, one of the primary goals of all development teams is to deploy new products and updates fast and effectively to its users. When you’re able to continuously improve your product/service experience with regular and reliable updates, you gradually build trust and loyalty with your users – plus, the increased profitability from having happy customers will maintain a good relationship with stakeholders.

Today, agile development methodologies are being used by technology companies to help improve production processes in order to deliver trusted, premium user experiences. And of these agile methodologies, scrum is the clear top dog with nearly 60 percent of organizations utilizing scrum for product development. Scrum relies on a full team understanding of what’s being worked on, how everything is progressing, and how different tasks and items are prioritized.

The 5 Scrum Ceremonies

Scrum Ceremony #1: Sprint Planning

Sprint Planning is a meeting that is held at the beginning of a sprint to determine the sprint backlog – the full set of items for the team to complete during the sprint. This meeting should also set expectations for the entire team in order to ensure a successful sprint.

  • Who is involved in Sprint Planning? All scrum roles (developers, scrum master, and product owner)
  • When is Sprint Planning held? At the beginning of each new sprint
  • How long should Sprint Planning meetings last? 1-2 hours
  • How often should Sprint Planning occur? Before every sprint

Scrum Ceremony #2: Daily Scrum

Daily Scrum is a short, daily meeting that is most commonly held in the morning to bring everyone up to speed on what’s happening in the product backlog. These meetings should be fairly quick, yet allow time for each member to discuss what they’ve completed, what they are working on, and whether they have run into any roadblocks.

  • Who is involved in Daily Scrum? All scrum roles
  • When is Daily Scrum held? Typically at the beginning of work
  • How long should Daily Scrum last? 15-20 minutes
  • How often should Daily Scrum occur? Daily

Scrum Ceremony #3: The Sprint

The Sprint is the list of tasks (or chunk of work) set for the full team to complete during the specified time block. This is what is laid out during the Sprint Planning ceremony.

  • Who is involved in the Sprint? Developers
  • When are Sprints held? Varies
  • How long should Sprints last? Each sprint will have its own blocked out time goal based on the Sprint Planning. Sprints can range from days, to weeks, or even months depending on the determined sprint backlog.
  • How often should Sprints occur? Varies

Scrum Ceremony #4: Sprint/Iteration Review

The Sprint/Iteration Review is held following the completion of a sprint or other specific milestone. The purpose of this ceremony is to review and showcase the completed work. During the Sprint/Iteration Review, the development team will demonstrate the completed features or updates to the entire team. Not only does this allow for feedback from other team members and stakeholders, but it’s also an opportunity for developers to highlight their hard work.

It’s important to note that this is just a partial review, whereas a full review occurs during the Retrospective.

  • Who is involved in Sprint/Iteration Reviews? All scrum roles, as well as stakeholders and other team members on the project
  • When are Sprint/Iteration Reviews held? At the end of a completed sprint or other milestone
  • How long should Sprint/Iteration Reviews last? Maximum of 4 hours
  • How often should Spring/Iteration Reviews occur? Upon sprint completion 

Scrum Ceremony #5: Retrospective

Where the Review focuses on the product and completed work, the Sprint Retrospective focuses on the process. What went right? What went wrong? This is where plans are made to smooth out any process issues, add or adjust tools, and improve relationships and communication.

  • Who is involved in the Retrospective? All scrum roles
  • When are Retrospectives held? At the end of a completed sprint or other milestone
  • How long should a Retrospective last? Maximum of 45 minutes per week of Sprint length (ex: a two week sprint would have a maximum retrospective of 1.5 hours)
  • How often should Retrospectives occur? Upon sprint completion

Benefits of Scrum Ceremonies

With products becoming increasingly complicated, organized communication and collaboration among team members is more important than ever. The five scrum ceremonies help team members have a shared understanding of the product/project and remain in sync throughout the product life cycle.