In this article, we look at when scrum meetings occur in a typical 2 week sprint. In fact, this is the exact setup I use for one of my scrum teams. I hope it helps you plan your upcoming sprints.
Recap of meetings for a sprint
- Daily Scrum every day. 15 mins max
- Backlog refinement as a group. 1 hour per week (optional
- Sprint review once per sprint. 2 hours max
- Sprint retrospective once per sprint. 2 hours max
- Sprint planning once per sprint. 4 hours max
How I run a 2 week sprint
We are in the office between 9am and 530pm; some people get in earlier than this, and some people stay later than this. However, all the team are around between our core hours of 10am to 4pm; this ensures we can plan our meetings effectively.
The following diagram is an overview on how we run our meetings, sometimes we stray a little bit from this if we need to, but we always do it for the right reasons. We are not constantly changing or extending the meetings on a regular basis.
Summary of meetings in a two week sprint cycle
As you can see, my two week sprints start on a Monday afternoon, and finish on a Monday morning two weeks later (so they span 3 separate calendar weeks). This is deliberate and I’ll go into details why we’ve done this later. The top half of the diagram shows the first week of the sprint, and the bottom half shows the second week of the sprint. Here’s a bit more detail about each meeting on the calendar above:
- We have a daily stand up at the same time, same place, every single day except the day we have sprint review, retrospective and planning. There are enough meetings on that day already, and more importantly, we don’t intend to do any other sprint work on that day anyway. This meeting is therefore not needed.
- We have sprint planning immediately after sprint retrospective (with a small break so that we can have a rest) on Monday afternoon. We have the highest energy levels on a Monday, so we do most of the mentally taxing things on that day. Our sprint planning sessions sometimes spill over into Tuesday AM. This is quite rare, but when it happens it also gives us time to “sleep on it” if we have to. In this scenario, daily stand up is cancelled on Tuesday, as we are planning together anyway, we don’t see any additional benefit of also have a daily stand up.
- Backlog Refinement 1 (as a group) is held every Thursday. The first of these sessions in a sprint allows us to ask any questions. If they can be answered there and then, it’s great. If not, we’ve got the rest of the sprint to figure it out. We also spend time in smaller groups refining items throughout the sprint. The backlog refinement meetings are where we estimate as a group though.
- Backlog Refinement 2 (as a group) happens in the second week of a sprint. We answer any questions raised in the first meeting, and we make sure we are as ready as we can be for sprint planning only a few days away now.
- Sprint Review happens first thing Monday morning. We spend up to 2 hours (as a team) preparing for this meeting on the Friday before. Effectively our sprint ends last thing on Friday, and we can all go home having worked really hard and hopefully achieving the Sprint Goal. Sometimes it’s a bit more ad-hoc than that; the planning for demos should be a natural end to a sprint, rather than a big event. We try and make Sprint Review as fun and laid back as possible so that people aren’t afraid to give feedback. We start our working week with Sprint Review.
- After Sprint Review (and lunch), we head to Sprint Retrospective and discuss as a team how we can improve at least one thing in the next sprint. That “thing” goes directly on the sprint backlog for the very next sprint.
Top tips for planning your Scrum meetings
1. Stick to your timeboxes
No-one likes their meetings running over time, so be respectful of other people’s time and stick to your time boxes. The last 10 minutes of every meeting should be wrapping up. The reason we have a time box is to make our meetings efficient. If you start off with Scrum and find you are running out of time in all of your meetings, consider just ending the meeting bang on time to help teach everyone that time is important. Talk about your time boxes in your next team retrospective.
2. Leave some space between meetings
None of my meetings exceed 1.5 hours of continuous work in a row; this is deliberate. People need a break to perform their best, so build it in to your meeting times. I always allow space for people to have a break between meetings. My sprint retrospective and sprint planning meetings happen in the same afternoon; but I always leave a small gap between them.
3. Regular meeting times
Having the same meetings, at the same time every week helps get people into a state of flow. People know when they’ll be interrupted, so they’ll build a routine around it. It’s also much easier booking things like meeting rooms if you need them the same time every single week.
4. Other meetings are OK; just be careful
The core Scrum meetings are there to ensure we have a regular time and place to inspect and adapt. That doesn’t mean you can’t have other meetings, but you should be conscious that you might be excluding some people from the process if they are not invited; and that might violate the Scrum pillar of transparency.
So for every other meeting you have, you should also ask yourself the question, could this extra meeting be better covered off in one of the existing scrum meetings?
I hope this article helps you plan your sprint activities, I’ve been using this template for about 4 years now, and I’ve seen good results. Sometimes the days/times have changed, or meetings have moved around a bit; but we’ve settled on this and everyone seems pretty happy with it. If you think this setup will help someone else, please share with them below!