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What Are Agile Meetings And How To Manage Them

What Are Agile Meetings And How To Manage Them

Ready to learn about Agile meetings?

Here’s something that can leave you thunderstruck: Unproductive meetings waste around $37 billion per year! 

But this isn’t the case with Agile meetings!

While Agile meetings are a staple of Agile project management, they also strike a chord with people who just want to get stuff done!

In this article, we’ll explain the different types of Agile meetings, how they can supercharge your team, and the best tool to manage these meetings.

And since every meeting has a different rhythm and tone, let’s jazz up this article with the help of some of our favorite tunes!

In this article

Let the Ramones lead the way!

What Is Agile?

Note: This is a brief guide to Agile to help you understand the Agile framework which drives these meetings. However, if you want to skip ahead to the section on Agile meetings, click here.

You might find this shocking, but Agile is the K-Pop of the software development industry!

Hold on, let us explain!

Both became super popular in the 2000s, were new and exciting, and changed their respective industries for the better!

To understand the Agile methodology, we need to know how it transformed software development.

How is Agile different from regular software development?

Before the Agile method, development teams created a rigid plan and spent months (and sometimes years!) designing and testing the product before it was eventually released. 

But then came a new kid on the block: Agile!

Just like how ‘Gangnam style’ made K-Pop famous, the 2001 Agile manifesto helped millions of developers adopt the Agile method.

As a result, development cycle lengths reduced from months to just a few weeks!

But how?

According to Agile methodology, you break your project down into smaller development cycles called sprints. Sprints are short bursts of work that last between 1-4 weeks.

For the duration of the sprint, the Agile development team works on creating a functional version of the software. After the sprint, users try out the software and give the team feedback on how to improve their product in the next sprint.

This product cycle repeats itself until you’ve created a final product that makes your customers as ‘happy’ as Pharell!

Types of Agile frameworks

As more teams got used to Agile methodology, it kept on evolving and became more advanced. That led to different Agile development frameworks that followed Agile principles

Here are the two most famous Agile subsets:

1. Scrum 

According to the Scrum framework, the entire team determines what they’re going to work on during the sprint. They list all the tasks on a physical or virtual whiteboard called a Scrum board. 

This board is split into columns that correspond to the status of the task: ‘To Do’, ‘Work In Progress’, ‘Review’, etc. 

The team then sticks to the plan and delivers the working software on the final day of the sprint

For a closer look at Scrum, click here.

2. Kanban

Kanban may look like Scrum, but it’s not the same thing! 

Kind of how country music is not exactly the same thing as folk music.

While both Scrum and Kanban require a board, there’s a difference in the way they use it. Instead of having a strict time-boxed sprint, Kanban sprints (iterations) are way more flexible.

Moreover, the tasks within the Kanban iteration can change depending on user requirements.

For a detailed look at Kanban, click here.

What Are Agile Meetings?

Agile development calls for team members to collaborate and work together at ‘supersonic’ speed, just like members of a band.  

That’s why Agile meetings (also known as Agile ceremonies), need to be quicker and more efficient than regular meetings. 

Therefore, Agile meetings are hyper-focused ceremonies or discussions where Agile teams share valuable project information, such as customer feedback, project updates, etc.

An Agile ceremony serves one more purpose. 

It ensures that the entire team is on the same page and agrees with the Agile or Scrum process. If they’re not all on board, they’ll face frequent disagreements, which can cause the team to work less efficiently. 

Liam and Noel Gallagher from Oasis would know this well because their fights led to their band breaking up. 

And we wouldn’t want this to happen to your Scrum team!

Who attends these meetings?

In most cases, the whole team gathers for each of these meetings. 

But who’s the team?

An Agile development team is a cross-functional group of employees that work together to create the working software. 

Similar to how a band has members who play a specific role (singer, guitarist, drummer, bassist), all Agile team members have a special role to play, such as:

  • Product Owner: creates a vision for the final software based on the customer’s needs
  • Project Manager: ensures that the Agile or Scrum team is working together, and are following Agile principles
  • Development Team: uses their combined skillsets to create the product
  • Agile Coach: helps the employees to adopt Agile principles and practices

Note: in the Scrum framework, a project manager is also known as a Scrum master.

What are the four key Agile meetings?

Let’s face it, we’ve all attended our fair share of unproductive meetings that don’t seem to have a purpose. There’s a reason why ‘that meeting should have been an email’ is a well-known phrase 😉 

However, Agile meetings all have a specific agenda. 

And if done correctly, they can help your Agile team rock the sprint like Jimi Hendrix!

Note: Most of these Agile meetings can apply to the Kanban and Scrum framework. 

Now, let’s take a look at the four main Agile meetings:

1. Sprint planning meeting

On the first day of the sprint, the entire team gathers for this Agile meeting.

A. Why do you need a sprint planning meeting?

You can’t compose a symphony without writing the sheet music for it, right?

Similarly, you can’t “conduct” your Scrum team members without creating a plan for them!

In this meeting, the development team identifies the tasks they need to complete in the sprint. 

This is highly important because, without a predefined sprint task list (sprint backlog), your team will waste time figuring out what work they need to do. 

Remember, you need a fully-functional software at the end of the sprint, not a jumbled mess!

B. What happens in this Agile meeting?

Before this sprint meeting begins, the product owner needs to create a product backlog: a list of items the team needs to work on to develop an end product. 

If the sprint is a symphony, then the backlog items are the instruments required to play it!  

This list of items includes software features, bug fixes, user stories (what users would like to do with the software), and more. 

After the product backlog has been created, the product owner meets up with the Scrum master and the development team.

They discuss what product backlog items can be added to the sprint backlog, and create a final set of objectives that need to be worked on. This is called a sprint goal.

The sprint goal is a working model of the software which can be shown to the stakeholder (client/customer) at the end of the sprint.

Finally, the Agile team has to agree on the sprint goal and lock it in place for the sprint.

C. How long do they last?

The length of the planning meeting depends on the length of the sprint

Here’s how to calculate the duration: 

Multiply the sprint length (in weeks) by two, and you have your meeting length.

For a 2 week sprint, this sprint meeting should take a maximum of (2 x 2) = 4 hours.

D. Bonus tips to rock this Scrum ceremony
  • Break down user stories into smaller tasks, and assign them to specific development team members.
  • Set an approximate due date for each user story or a task, so your team knows when to pick up the pace!

2. Daily standup meeting

If you think about it, daily Scrum meetings are like pop songs. 

You hear about them every day, they help you know what’s going on currently, and there’s no escaping them!

A. Why do you need a daily standup meeting?

This daily meeting is a status meeting

It allows your team to update their progress, and to determine if work is going according to plan.

B. What happens in this Agile meeting?

Every morning, the development team, along with the Scrum master gather around a Scrum board.

Each team member is given a few minutes to speak about their progress towards the sprint goal. 

Each Agile team member briefly discusses three topics:

  • What they did yesterday
  • What will they work on today
  • The issues that they are currently facing (if any)

The Scrum master takes note of these issues and provides the solutions after the standup meeting.

C. How long do they last?

A planning meeting is often a high-tempo Agile ceremony, and should not exceed 15 minutes.

D. Bonus tips to rock your next daily Scrum meeting!
  • Ensure that your Agile team only discusses tasks related to the current sprint backlog,
  • Each team member should have a fixed amount of time to speak. This is to prevent team members from interrupting each other, like Kanye at the VMAs!

3. Sprint review meeting

Now that your team has created a plan and completed the sprint, it’s showtime! 

In the sprint review, your Agile development team showcases all their greatest hits (sprint backlog items). 

And if all goes well, the sprint review will be a top hit! 

  1. Why do you need a sprint review meeting?

The sprint review allows your team to demonstrate a working model of the software to the audience (i.e., stakeholders). 

B. What happens in this Agile meeting?

All the stakeholders and the Scrum team members gather for the sprint review meeting.

The Agile team showcases the sprint goal, accompanied by a presentation. 

The presentation answers questions like:

  • Which tasks have been completed?
  • What new and exciting features have been added?
  • What bugs have been fixed?

Similar to the judges from ‘American Idol’, the stakeholder gives their immediate feedback and thoughts.

But don’t always expect this response from stakeholders! 

They might also provide sharp feedback, like how Simon Cowell often does! 

 

In that case, the team shouldn’t take it personally. 

Rather, the Agile team should see this as an opportunity to make their next sprint better!

C. How long do they last?

Ideally, the product demonstration and review should be as long as the main event at a rock concert, which is around 1-2 hours!

D. Bonus tips to rock this Scrum meeting!
  • The sprint review isn’t about proving that the software works. Rather, it should demonstrate the business value that it provides customers.
  • The team leader should prepare and practice with a mock demo. Remember, even Freddie didn’t become a rockstar without practicing first!

4. Sprint Retrospective meeting (Agile retrospective)

After the review meeting ends, the team gathers for the last time. 

The sprint retrospective is a throwback to what the team had done in the sprint.

And no, we don’t mean this kind of a throwback!

A. Why do you need the sprint retrospective meeting?

Your whole team needs to analyze their sprint performance, and take stock of the ‘groovy’ and the ‘not so groovy’ things they did. 

The retrospective meeting reveals some key insights that would help them perform better in the next sprint.

B. What happens in this Agile meeting?

The Scrum master takes charge of this meeting. They also decide on the discussion topics for the sprint retrospective. 

Topics can range from milestones, bottlenecks, recurring issues, and more.

Once the agenda is set, it’s time to strut your stuff and discuss the sprint with the team!

Each team member recalls:

  • The tasks they did well
  • The tasks where they struggled
  • The tasks that could have been done better
C. How long do they last?

Similar to the sprint planning meeting, the duration depends on the length of the sprint.

For a 2-week sprint, the sprint retrospective should last 2 hours.

D. Bonus tips to rock this Scrum meeting!
  • Since your team will be discussing the problems they faced, make sure that they don’t put the blame on other team members. 
  • A retrospective meeting can stretch over long hours and even become an all-nighter! Set a topic for them in advance, so your team can finish work early – and boogie all night instead!

The Best Way To Conduct Agile Meetings In 2020

For the entire team to collaborate efficiently, your Agile meetings have to be efficient too! 

Fortunately, there are Agile project management tools like ClickUp, that can help you manage every aspect of your Agile meetings!

What’s ClickUp?

ClickUp is one of the world’s highest-rated Agile project management tools. It’s used by 100,000+ teams from startups to software giants like Google, Netflix, Uber, and more, this remote project management tool has everything you need to make your Agile meetings super productive!

Here are four ways that ClickUp can help you host better Agile meetings:

1. Fine-tune your sprint planning meeting

You can’t have a great sprint without a great planning meeting

Here’s how ClickUp can elevate these meetings:

A. Sprint Lists

As we mentioned earlier, product owners have to add product backlog items to the sprint backlog during this meeting.

However, this can be as challenging as learning to play the violin!

Why?

When playing the violin, you need to remember how to hold it properly, where to place your fingers, and know how to put pressure on the bow! 

Similarly, while managing the product backlog, you need to be aware of software features, user stories, bug fixes, and user feedback. 

Sounds overwhelming, doesn’t it? 

Don’t worry! 

ClickUp helps you manage your sprint planning with ease.

Sprint Lists allows you to see every product backlog item, all in one screen!

After you’ve broken down the items into tasks, ClickUp lets you group your tasks into relevant columns like ‘Bugs’, ‘Features’, ‘User Feedback’, ‘User story 1 tasks’, etc.

With this layout, you’ll never miss out on a user story again!

B. Goals

After you’ve organized your sprint backlog and created your sprint goal, you can track them with the Goals feature.

Think of Goals as music albums!

Just like an album consists of a bunch of songs, ClickUp Goals are made up of measurable objectives called Targets. 

When you finish listening to all the songs, you finish the album. 

And when you meet all the Targets, you achieve the Goal!

Additionally, listening to an album and achieving Goals with ClickUp can both be fun!

But what does this have to do with your sprint goal?

In ClickUp, you can tie the list of sprint tasks to your goal. 

As your team finishes a task, ClickUp automatically updates the progress percentage, so you can see how well your team is doing in real-time! 

2. Change the tempo of your daily Scrum meetings

Let’s face it, the daily Scrum is fast-paced and short, just like a punk song! 

The team has to pack in a lot of ideas within 15 minutes! 

Fortunately, ClickUp has a few tools to help your team keep up with the blistering pace of this Scrum meeting:

A. Board View

As previously mentioned, the Scrum team gathers around a Scrum board to discuss their tasks.  

This virtual board displays all the tasks that need to be completed in the sprint

And it also highlights the status of each task:

  • In Progress: what tasks need to be initiated
  • Doing: what’s being worked upon
  • Review: what tasks need to be quality checked

Instead of spending time mentioning their tasks, Scrum team members can just highlight them and focus on explaining their issues to the Scrum master.

And that’s not all! 

As soon as your team finishes a task, they can simply drag-and-drop their task into the relevant column to keep everything up to date.

Note: If you have a remote team or a distributed team, you can display this board during the video conferencing meeting.

B. Box View

Your whole team needs to be present during the daily meeting so that the Scrum master knows what’s going on. 

But what if a Scrum team member is absent?

Don’t worry! 

The Box View lets you see what individual team members are working on, and what they have done, without them being present for the update!

3. Give your stakeholders backstage access to your project files

Displaying the software to your stakeholders isn’t enough. 

After the sprint review, you would need to share important project files like progress reports, your backlog item history, and more.

In this case, ClickUp can give your stakeholders a VIP pass to your project.

Here’s how you can do this:

A. Guests

You can introduce a stakeholder to your ClickUp workspace by adding them as a guest. 

They have access to tasks, lists, folders, files, and Docs related to the project. 

However, they can only access the files you share with them. So you don’t have to worry about your files falling into the wrong hands!

B. Custom Permissions

Want to just share a few files with your stakeholder? 

No problem!

With Custom Permissions, you can decide what your stakeholders can do with your files:

  • Can view: guests can view tasks but can’t add comments
  • Can edit: guests can edit tasks but can’t create their own tasks
  • Can comment: guests can add comments on the tasks and task lists

4. Jazz up your sprint retrospective with better metrics!

During the sprint retrospective, the Scrum master or team leader goes through important charts to analyze how their team was performing – kind of like a music critic!

Fortunately, ClickUp has all the charts they need with ClickUp Dashboards. 

The cool thing about these Dashboards is that they can be used throughout the sprint, and not just for the retrospective meeting!

Dashboards

Think of this feature as a DJ setup for Agile teams!

Just like a DJ control panel is made up of different equipment and instruments, ClickUp Dashboards are made up of Widgets. 

Each widget displays a different Agile metric, and you can put them together to create your own custom Dashboard!

Here are a few Widgets that can help you track sprint progress:

A. Burnup Charts

Want to motivate your team like Queen?

During the sprint, a Burnup Chart indicates how many tasks your team has accomplished, and the number of tasks that are still remaining.

Your team can use this data to push themselves further and reach their goal!

B. Burndown Charts

Want to know if your team will be able to meet the sprint goal?

ClickUp’s burndown chart has a project progress line that highlights what your project progress will look like if your team continues working at the same speed.

If the chart indicates that your team might not be able to reach the goal at this rate, you would have to ask your team members to pick up the pace!

C. Velocity Chart

Want to know how much work your team can handle in a sprint?

The Velocity Chart shows how many tasks your Scrum team members have completed in previous sprints. 

It helps you figure out how many tasks your team can handle in the next sprint – ensuring that your team doesn’t get overwhelmed and confused like Ozzy here:

D. Cumulative Flow Diagram

Want to identify bottlenecks quicker?

Cumulative Flow Diagrams help Agile teams visualize which tasks are progressing quickly and which tasks are slowing down the Scrum process.

Conclusion

Agile meetings were designed to be purposeful, short, and to-the-point. As a result, it allows your Agile development team to spend less time attending meetings, more time doing the…

But organizing these meetings can still take up some of your time. 

That’s where Agile project management tools come in! 

Tools like ClickUp streamline the process by helping you manage all your Agile meetings seamlessly.

But that’s not the best part! 

ClickUp also adapts to your needs by allowing you to customize your digital workspace, your project views, and workflows!

We’re sure Mr. Sinatra would like ClickUp because it helps you ‘do things your way’!

So why not take ClickUp for a spin?

Click on MC Hammer to sign up for ClickUp today!

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