The Ultimate Guide to Scrum Meetings
Are you considering adopting a scrum meeting process?
But maybe you’re unsure how to best run one.
The Digital.ai State of Agile Report found 81% of tech folks say their organization follows some form of scrum. And with a Broadcom report showing Full Scrum teams earn a 250% better quality rating than teams doing no estimating, it’s obvious why it’s among the most popular agile practices.
So, if you are trying to get on the scrum train, we don’t blame you. Here’s what you need to know to get started.
What Are Scrum Meetings?
Scrum meetings keep stakeholders, management, and teams aligned through concise communication and swift strategic planning—all in an effort to keep projects moving forward. There are five types of scrum meetings:
- Daily scrum / Standup
- Sprint planning
- Product backlog refinement
- Sprint reviews
- Sprint retrospectives
You’ll notice that each meeting has its purpose right in the name. Sprint planning is for sprint planning. Retrospectives are retrospectives.
Because scrum meetings are a bit of an anti-meeting. They aren’t catch-up sessions, brainstorms, or lengthy lectures from the CEO. They’re not needless interruptions to your product work.
This process is tactical, scheduled at the right times, and designed to keep teams on the same page to avoid communication snafus (all of which is to ensure projects don’t hit unnecessary bottlenecks).
UM, WHAT IS SCRUM?
Scrum is an agile project management framework that’s all about clear goals, collaboration, accountability, and delivering incremental value. It breaks big, complex projects down into more manageable pieces and creates the flexibility teams need to pivot when things change mid-project. The term comes to us from Rugby scrummages: plays where the team huddles close, heads down, to get the ball.
Who should attend scrum meetings?
Most Scrum meetings are for the development team, the Scrum master, and the product owner—though there are some exceptions. Your product owner, for example, may not attend your retrospectives. And additional stakeholders might join you for the Scrum review meeting.
Ideally, your entire scrum team should be 10 members or less. If your scrum team is larger, leadership will often break them up into smaller groups working toward a shared goal.
The 5 Scrum Meetings You Need to Know About
1. Daily scrum meetings
One of the most popular types of scrum meetings—according to the previously mentioned State of Agile Report—is the daily standup, also sometimes known as the daily scrum meeting. It should be a lightning-fast look at goals, progress, and potential problems. Every person in the room should be able to answer three questions:
- What were you able to accomplish yesterday?
- What do you plan to accomplish today?
- Are there any blockers on your horizon?
The term standup came to be because these types of scrum meetings are meant to stay short, so many teams conducted them standing up—for those able—to prevent anyone from getting too comfortable. Now that many teams are working remotely, we’re less likely to stand, but the goal of the meeting should still be to keep things as condensed as possible.
2. Sprint planning scrum
The goal of your sprint planning scrum is to identify what you want to achieve in the next sprint and how you’ll achieve it. This sprint planning meeting typically lasts about one hour for every week of the upcoming sprint (e.g. if your sprint is two weeks, your meeting is two hours or less).
That said, there are ways to shorten them—like good pre-planning and the right sprint-tracking tools. These types of meetings help break down issues into more digestible sections, which makes the List View in ClickUp so versatile.
3. Product backlog refinement
In between sprint backlog and refinement meetings, ask your scrum team to take a look at the sprint backlog, add details, and note priorities, and dependencies. Of the different types of scrum meetings, this one depends on team organization.
Otherwise, if you don’t keep the sprint backlog organized, product owners and the scrum master won’t have much to use to plan the next sprint.
4. Sprint review
At the end of each sprint, it’s time for teams to present the work to the product owner (and sometimes other stakeholders).
The goal: feedback.
Think of this meeting as both a demonstration and an opportunity for stakeholders to ask questions and offer up feedback. That feedback is then added to the backlog for future consideration.
5. Sprint retrospective
The other end-of-sprint meeting scrum recommends is the retrospective. But this time the stakeholders usually aren’t in the room.
It’s just the teams themselves hashing out what went well, what didn’t go well, what they learned, and how things should shift in the coming sprints.
We also recommend retrospectives at the end of larger-scale projects–and those retros should include a wider range of participants. Leadership, marketing, and other stakeholders can join to assess every team’s contribution to communication, coordination, and GTM.
Check out these sprint retrospective templates!
DON’T SKIP THE RETROSPECTIVE
Research shows that team performance rises by a whopping 20% when effective retrospectives enter the picture.
The Benefits of Scrum Meetings
1. Make complicated projects more manageable
Scrum meetings are all about two things: communication and strategy. No matter the type of meeting, the goal should always be to get everyone on the same page about goals, status, and problems that need solving.
That open communication is what keeps teams consistently moving forward (keeping their velocity high) toward shared goals.
Without the strategic touchpoints provided by your scrum meetings, it’s much easier for your scrum project management to go off the rails. Worse, once a team or team member has gone off the rails without meetings to check in, they can get pretty far down the wrong path–wasting both time and money and skewing velocity stats for the next sprint planning meeting.
2. Results are always top-of-mind
These strategic touchpoints should always remind teams what they’re working toward. No matter how far in the weeds of a project we get, that reminder is what grounds us and moves us toward the results we’re aiming for.
3. Higher customer satisfaction
Better results, faster delivery, and happier teams ultimately mean better customer experiences and higher satisfaction ratings. Staying consistent is key to happy customers as it builds more trust at the same time.
4. Lower costs!
Every single type of scrum meeting has a financial benefit to the company: Retrospectives make teams more productive over time. Review meetings help us incorporate feedback quickly.
Daily standups keep projects on time and within budget (or at least let us know when things are going awry so we can fix them ASAP). And the sprint planning meeting ties everything we do to business goals with real financial upsides.
5. Stay connected
The sixth principle of the agile manifesto is that face-to-face meetings are the best way to communicate information to agile teams. This is why these meetings are such a staple for agile organizations.
And with 52% of employees saying they felt disconnected from their teams at some point in the past year, it’s time to get back to the well-run, strategic scrum meetings that keep teams aligned on everything from backlog to sprints to daily tasks.
How to Run an Effective Scrum Meeting
So, how do you make sure your scrum meetings reach their goals? Here are four tips from the experts:
1. Set times and stick to them
Scrum meetings are important. They align teams on what needs to get done, by who, and when. They let everyone connect and collaborate on a regular basis. And they prioritize strategy.
But they are still meetings and there is still work to be done. So keep them long enough to be effective and short enough to keep attention.
In other words: if you say the meeting will be an hour, stick to an hour or less.
2. Start with priority one
If there’s one thing you want teams to walk away with after your meeting, what is it? Whatever your answer is, that’s the thing you should start with and end with. Don’t let information overload crowd out your priorities.
WHAT IF THERE’S MORE THAN ONE PRIORITY-ONE?
We get it. In complex organizations, there are a lot of items fighting for that top priority spot. But the truth is…if you want productive teams, you simply can’t give them unordered priority lists and expect everything to get done. It’s up to project managers and leadership to come together and order your priorities before they go to your teams.
3. Give teams choices…but not too many
Need the team to make decisions during your scrum meeting? Give them options…but not too many. Studies suggest that too many options can be paralyzing. This is why leadership should work to hone the team’s choices before bringing big decisions to the meeting.
4. Use the right tools
Scrum boards, sprint planning, Gantt charts, tracking tools… Scrum meetings are more efficient with tools that help you track and share information in real-time. From Trello to ClickUp (of course), you have a lot of options to keep teams on the same page and present information in a helpful, visually interesting way.
FREE YOUR TEAMS UP TO FOCUS ON THE WORK
A great tool not only helps you keep up with your team day-to-day…it can also substantially shorten your meetings, freeing everyone up to focus on the work at hand. As Alaina Maracotta of Vida Health says of ClickUp: “It’s been phenomenal to see how much time we’ve saved in meetings since moving to ClickUp. What used to take us three hours per week for event planning and updates now takes us just over an hour. The teams involved now have more time to focus on more important marketing priorities.”
Getting Started With Scrum Meetings
So, you understand what scrum meetings are, how they work, and what best practices you should keep top of mind…
Now, if you aren’t already Full Scrum, how do you get there?
The answer—as with most big shifts within a company—typically requires a mindset, process, and tool changes.
1. Get teams on board
Without the full participation of your teams, these meetings won’t be as effective as they could be. Which is why you need buy-in. Explain to your teams how this new structure will help them—shortening meetings, freeing up their creative time, etc.
The better people can see the end goal (for themselves, their teams, and the business), the more likely they are to go all in on any change, scrum included.
2. Make necessary process changes
Look at your company’s existing processes with scrum in mind. What needs to change? Do teams need to update their progress in your tools pre-meeting? Should leadership be preparing for meetings in a new way?
Should project managers and the scrum master clean up the backlog pre-meet? The clearer and sooner you communicate any necessary process changes, the easier the shift to scrum will go.
This also allows your entire scrum team to move quickly, which will prove to teams that the promises you made (about freeing up time and creativity, for instance) hold water.
3. Choose tools that support you
Do your current tools support your new ways of working—or are they holding you back? Rather than starting with tools and trying to wedge your new processes into them, start by thinking about what you need the tools to do to support you—and then choose scrum tools based on those criteria.
We understand that tool changes can feel like a big ask, but we also know that without the right tools, well-intentioned shifts toward agile practices can get stuck. So prioritize your needs and don’t fall into the sunk cost fallacy and stay with old, no-longer-useful tools.
WAIT… WHAT’S THE SUNK COST FALLACY?
The sunk cost fallacy tells us that humans are more likely to make bad choices once they’ve already “sunk costs” into those choices. It is why people stay in relationships that no longer serve them (“but I’ve already put two years into this!”) or keep pouring money into projects that have clearly gone off the rails (“but we already spent $100k on this feature!”). It can also keep you using unhelpful tools because you “already spent the money.”
Experts say when making decisions, ignore sunk costs and focus on the costs moving forward. Will it cost you more or less tomorrow if you ditch the old tool and choose the one that better fits your business?
Handy Scrum Meeting Templates
According to a recent customer survey, ClickUp’s templates are among the top three most valuable features we offer. Frankly, we’re not surprised. Having a great template takes the pressure off.
You know exactly what information you need and how to present it—no deep research into best practices is required. Here are two scrum templates to kick off your new practice:
1. ClickUp Scrum Meeting Template
Designed to streamline your daily standups, ClickUp’s Scrum Meeting template helps teams focus on what’s done, what needs to get done, and what potential blockers loom on the horizon.
2. ClickUp Agile Scrum Management Template
Great to use for a sprint planning meeting, retrospectives, backlog pruning, and more. ClickUp’s Agile Scrum Management template also includes a “how to get started” document that will help the scrum master customize your meetings. No team member should be left in the dark!
Get Started With ClickUp
If you’re ready to get started, we’ve got you.
Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned scrum master, ClickUp has tons of templates and agile features to help your scrum meetings go smoothly. And our forever-free plan is (you guessed it) free forever. Give us a test drive today.
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