Scrum: The team and the events

In my last article I wrote about the agile methodology scrum in general. I promised to give you an overview of the events of scrum and the scrum team. So, here you go.

The scrum team

A visualization of the scrum team

The team consists of the product owner (PO), the development team and a scrum master (SM). It is self-organized - as it knows best how to solve a problem - and cross-functional which means that all needed skills are present in the team to avoid outside dependencies. An important fact is that the team creates value itereatively and incrementally to ensure short feedback cycles.

The PO in the team is responsible for the product backlog of the team which holds items to be worked on ordered by priority. An important point is that the product backlog is the sole source of work for the team. This ensures that the team can focus and is not distracted by outside requests popping up. Furthermore, the PO ensures that stakeholders know what the team is working on next. This requires that the product backlog items are understandable for all. Finally, she is also accountable for the work done by the team.

The development team does the actual work. It delivers the outcome within an iteration (i.e., a sprint). Each member is accountable for the work of the whole team.

The SM helps the team and those interacting with the team to understand and work by the scrum process. She has a consultant role to the PO, the development team and the organization.

The scrum events

A visualization of the scrum events

In scrum there are multiple events that help you organize and improve. Each event has a maximum duration (i.e., is time-boxed).

The sprint

The sprint has a fixed length - usually one month at max - after which a useable increment has been created. Having a maximum length of one month ensures that the risk of changed requirements is decreased. I worked in teams with a sprint length of one or two weeks depending on the size of the team and the type of work that the team had to tackle.

The sprint includes the sprint planning, daily scrums, development work, sprint review and sprint retrospective. The team sets a sprint goal at beginning of sprint. This is a statement describing what the team wants to achieve in the sprint. An example of a sprint goal could be the following: “The inventory client uses data from the inventory service instead of bogus data”.

The sprint planning

Before a new sprint starts the team decides what work should be done within the sprint. The input for this exercise comes from the product backlog. Based on the capacity of the team in the upcoming sprint and the past performance the team decides what it can accomplish. Amongst other things the team's capacity is influenced by already known sick days, holidays and service requests from other teams that have to be worked on. The outcome of the sprint planning is the sprint backlog. This is a list of product backlog items and a plan on how to work on them.

The daily scrum

The daily scrum is a very short meeting of the development team to synchronize the work done the last day and decide on what will be done today. Usually three questions have to be answered by each participant:

  • What did I do yesterday?
  • what will i do today?
  • Are there any impediments that prevent me from reaching the sprint goal?

The meeting should be very focused, short and starts at the same time every day. Participants tend to explain details of their particular work that are not relevant to all the team members. This is not helpful as it wastes time of all participants not involved. Instead, the SM should note who has to talk to whom in detail which can then be done after the daily scrum.

The sprint review

The sprint review takes place at the end of each sprint. It is held to inform stakeholders about the results of the sprint and basically answer the question “What has (not) been done?” The sprint review is all about collaboration in which the next steps can be adapted and stakeholders can mention their concerns.

The sprint retrospective

The sprint retrospective takes place after the sprint review and before the sprint planning of the upcoming sprint. It is a meeting that focuses on improving the team's process and how it can work together. What went well and issues are identified. Finally, ways for improving during the next sprint are worked out.

Post images taken by me, published under CC BY-SA 4.0.