The Five Scrum Events: Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners

Scrum Events

The Scrum framework has been all the rave in the Agile world since the Scrum Guide was published in 2010. According to the 16th State of Agile report, almost 9 in 10 respondents say they’re leveraging Scrum in their organization. Why is it so popular?

Modern-day software development is complex and unpredictable. Scrum helps to manage that complexity, slice big and scary work items into smaller, easier-to-handle stories, and cherry-pick those that provide the most value.

Scrum Events (also known as Agile Events) are an integral part of the Scrum framework. They provide structure and give an opportunity to inspect and adapt the development process with each software iteration.

According to the Scrum Guide, the five Scrum Events are:

  • Sprint Planning
  • The Sprint
  • Daily Scrum
  • Sprint Review
  • Sprint Retrospective

You might be wondering why Backlog Refinement is not on the list. It’s not an official Scrum Event, but rather an ongoing activity. We’ll also talk about it in this blog post so that you can have a more comprehensive view of Scrum.

Let’s dive in!

Sprint Planning

The purpose of the Sprint Planning

The main goal of the Sprint Planning event is to decide what can be delivered at the end of the Sprint and how that work will be done.

Top tips for the Sprint Planning

Come to the session prepared. Focus on the stakeholder feedback from the Sprint Review, and make sure the whole Scrum Team had a chance to organize & prioritize the product backlog before the meeting actually starts.

The Sprint Planning overview

The Sprint Planning meeting kicks off the actual Sprint. During this particular Scrum ceremony, the entire Scrum team selects items from the Product Backlog that will fit into the Sprint. Scrum Master makes sure that everyone understands the value behind this Agile event and that those that need to be there, attend the session. It’s a time-boxed event, which can run for about 8 hours if your Sprint is one-month long. In the case of a shorter, two-week Sprint, this event will be shorter.

The Product Owner sets the tone with an objective of the Sprint, which is translated into the Sprint Goal. The Development team focuses on the functionality that will be delivered and creates a plan. Discuss these questions during the meeting:

  • What will the Scrum team deliver at the end of the upcoming Sprint?
  • How will the Scrum team get it done?

During the Sprint Planning session, it’s essential to communicate and work together so that it’s clear what needs to be done to achieve the Sprint Goal and how it will be measured.

Although Product Owners have a large say in what needs to be prioritized, it’s up to the Development team to decide which exact items they can deliver during this Sprint.

The Sprint Goal should be presented with context and needs to be clear to everyone involved. The Dev team has to understand the value behind each Increment, and the Sprint Goal should give guidance to the Scrum Team on why they’re doing what they’re doing.

Without the broader context, it’s quite likely that the team will not be motivated.

What is taken into account during each Sprint Planning event?

  • the work items from the Product Backlog
  • the team’s capacity
  • previous performance

The Development team decides how they will build the planned functionality and what it will involve. The Product Backlog items included in the Sprint as well as the plan on how to deliver the functionality are later referred to as Sprint Backlog.

Since the Sprint Planning session is a collaborative discussion, be prepared that there might be some trade-offs with the Product Owner regarding the backlog items.

The Sprint

The Sprint

The purpose of the Sprint

The main goal of the Sprint is to create a valuable and useful Product Increment based on the Sprint Backlog, as well as inspect and adapt the progress toward a Product Goal.

Top tip for the Sprint

Avoid cramming too many stories into the Sprint. It’s better to plan for 70% capacity rather than underestimate the effort and not be able to manage others’ expectations.

The Sprint overview

The Sprint is the heart of Scrum and one of the most important Scrum ceremonies. It’s a time-boxed event happening every two or three weeks on average, however, it’s not uncommon to see a team running a one-month Sprint.

Thanks to relatively short feedback loops, Sprints help the Scrum Team to inspect, adapt, and learn how to optimize the software development process in order to ship quality products at regular intervals. Sprints also help to break down large and complex projects into bite-sized, manageable pieces. The aim is to deliver enhanced functionality to the user in relatively short periods of time, to test what works well, and continuously improve.

Sprints give the possibility to respond to change quickly, which is more challenging with traditional project management. Working in Sprints helps prioritize the features that matter most and not waste time on something that won’t provide much value.

Daily Scrum

The purpose of the Daily Scrum

Daily Scrum meeting is a short daily event focussed on the progress towards the Sprint Goal. It’s a crucial meeting that helps the team get aligned, spot any blockers in the Sprint Backlog, and adapt the plan for the rest of the Sprint.

Top tips for the Daily Scrum

Keep the detailed discussions out of Daily Scrums. If anything needs to be thoroughly discussed or replanned — meet straight after the Daily to discuss it with relevant team members. Keep the Daily up to a maximum of 15 minutes and avoid turning it into a status update meeting.

Daily Scrum overview

Daily Scrum, also known as the Daily Standup meeting, is usually a short, 15-minute daily event where the Development team discusses any impediments that may jeopardize the Sprint Goal. It’s a simple check-in to make sure the development is on track and nothing major is blocking the progress in the Sprint Backlog.

Daily Standup meetings help the team to collaborate, and communicate, which limits the need for any additional meetings throughout the day. This way everyone can get their precious time back and focus on writing the code.

Daily Standups are essential to keep tabs on the progress toward the Sprint Goal. You could be tempted to skip this event, however, without regular everyday check-ins, you might not be aware of some looming impediments. If they are spotted too late, they can really break your chances of achieving the Sprint Goal. It’s one of the key inspect-and-adapt meetings that will enable you to quickly react to sudden changes or situations you cannot predict when planning the Sprint.

The Development team is the owner of the Daily Scrum event, however, the Scrum Masters can join the meeting, especially if the Scrum team is quite new to the process and needs some guidance.

There are different approaches to Daily Standup meetings. Some Agile teams use standard questions, some other teams prefer the ‘Walk the board’ approach. Test different formats and see what suits your team best. Learn more about the Do’s and Don’ts of Daily Standup meetings on our blog and test our Daily Standup Template below.

Sprint Review

The purpose of the Sprint Review

The Sprint Review is held to showcase the Product Increment delivered in the Sprint to the stakeholders, which can lead to insightful conversation. The purpose of this event is to gather feedback on the Product Increment, learn how to optimize the product value and adjust the Backlog if needed.

Top tip for the Sprint Review

Invite relevant stakeholders to Sprint Reviews. Without their feedback and honest discussion, the business and product will not be on the same page.

The Sprint Review overview

The Sprint Review meeting is run after the end of the Sprint and it’s a collaborative session that inspires the conversation between the business and the development side and promotes learning. Cooperate with stakeholders to deliver maximum value in the following Sprints, and don’t forget to focus on what will be done next. It’s not only about a Sprint Demo. The feedback will feed into the next Sprint Planning meeting.

Sprint Reviews can be as long as 4 hours if your Sprints occur every 4 weeks. The Product Owner usually leads the Sprint Review meetings and invites relevant stakeholders and team members.

Sprint Review

Sprint Retrospective

The purpose of the Sprint Retrospective

To continuously improve and learn, reflect on what didn’t go according to plan, and address unmet expectations from the previous Sprint. Retrospectives give an opportunity to adapt the Scrum process, tools, and the Agile way of working.

Top tip for the Sprint Retrospective

Never, ever skip Retros! No matter if you work in Scrum, Kanban, Scrumban, or use any other Agile methodology. Without Sprint Retrospectives (or “Retros” in short), you cannot fully inspect and adapt, reflect, and incorporate feedback to improve the product development process as you go along. Your team will keep repeating the same mistakes over and over. No one wants to be stuck in this vicious loop of inefficiency.

The Sprint Retrospective overview

The Sprint Retrospective is run after every Sprint Review and before the next Sprint Planning session so it’s the official final Scrum event in the Sprint. It can be up to 3 hours long, depending on the duration of the Sprint. For a two-week Sprint, the event would be shorter. The Product Owner, Scrum Master, and the Development team get together to discuss what happened during the last Sprint and how the collaboration or processes can be improved. The idea is to constantly adapt so that resources are used to their full potential, the product quality improves, and working in Scrum doesn’t frustrate the team.

Each Retrospective should finish with actionable points. Get together with your team, discuss what you liked and what you didn’t like during the last Sprint, and think of new creative ways to solve the issues to continuously improve the Agile process.

If you’d like to test new and fresh ideas for remote retrospectives, try our Retro templates!

Product Backlog Refinement

The purpose of the Backlog Refinement

The purpose of this ongoing event is to review the Product Backlog items and have a mutual understanding of the effort required to deliver a specified piece of work. During the Refinement, the whole Scrum team decides on the order in which the items will be delivered based on the business value and customer feedback, and discusses the complexity of the planned work.

Top tips for the Backlog Refinement

Prioritize the items in your Backlog after each feedback loop to ensure that the whole team is working on the most important and valuable items during the next Sprint. Together with the Agile team, define the quality standard that will label the backlog item as “refined” and “ready.” You can even create an easy checklist to speed up this process.

Product Backlog Refinement overview

It’s not an official Scrum Event, however, the Scrum Guide does mention it as an ongoing activity. During Backlog Refinement, the team reviews the Product Backlog items and decides on their priority, adds details, estimates the effort, and slices bigger tasks into smaller work items.

Usually, the Dev team and the Product Owner get together to provide details about the Product Backlog items. Some teams invite key stakeholders to the meeting to get aligned with the business strategy and get a bigger picture of the direction in which the product should be developed. There are no hard and fast rules about when the Product Backlog Refinement should be scheduled and how often, it’s entirely up to the team to choose the most optimal time.

Product Backlog Refinement

Scrum Master’s role in Scrum events

  1. Sprint Planning — Scrum Master makes sure that the Dev team doesn’t take too much on their shoulders and overpromises the delivery of Product Backlog items.
  2. The Sprint — Scrum Master helps to facilitate the event and spots opportunities for improvements as well as notes down the impediments and works collaboratively with the Scrum team to remove them.
  3. Daily Scrum — Scrum Master doesn’t have to attend the meeting but can join initially if the team is relatively new to Scrum and needs some additional guidance. If you are invited to Daily Scrum, don’t stay in front of the board (literally and virtually). You shouldn’t be leading the Daily Scrum event as this can disempower the team, and reduce self-organization.
  4. Sprint Review — Scrum Master’s role is to capture all the feedback which will be crucial in the following Sprint Planning session and during Backlog Refinement.
  5. Sprint Retrospective — Scrum Master leads and facilitates Sprint Retrospective meetings to ensure it’s a positive & productive experience.
  6. Product Backlog Refinement — Scrum Master’s role is to coach the Scrum Teams and facilitate the Product Backlog Refinement event and propose different Backlog Management techniques. However, if the team is more mature in Agile, Scrum Master’s presence is not required.
Remote Scrum Events

How to run remote Scrum events?

The Scrum framework favors collaboration and communication much more than traditional project management. Most of the Scrum Events are based on a discussion where the team reflects on the feedback, brainstorms solutions, and gets a mutual understanding of what needs to be delivered, how complex it is, and how to get there in the most optimal way.

In a modern-day work environment where most of us work remotely (at least some part of the time), running the Scrum ceremonies might be challenging as we can’t be physically located in the same room. Here’s where the Whiteboards app comes to the rescue. With the digital whiteboard, you can connect with your Scrum Team, collaborate remotely, run all of the Scrum Events online, and manage Jira tasks straight on the virtual canvas. You can easily keep stakeholders in the loop and run engaging and insightful Sprint Reviews using an audio and video call. You can also have some fun and make collaboration less boring with an Ice breaker wheel, emojis and stickers, and other templates.

For Scrum to be successful, you need a collaborative environment where people are not isolated and working in silos. The whole team needs to work in sync and a Scrum Master should coach the organization about the value of Scrum Events so that everyone understands the purpose of these recurring meetings.

Scrum is all about a positive team dynamic where everyone checks in, gives each other a hand and hops on a call when needed. Scrum promotes transparency, which can mitigate the risk of mistakes or oversights, boosts cross-functional team collaboration, leverages different skill sets, and creates an environment of innovation that can set the team up for success in future Sprints.

The golden rule of any Scrum Event is teamwork, no matter if your colleagues are located on the other side of the globe. There are plenty of apps that can help bridge that physical gap, Whiteboards are one of them. Would you like to test it out with your team and check some of our ready-to-use templates?