How many meetings have you got today?
Are you looking forward to all of them?
Have you ever left a meeting with the feeling it was unproductive?
We all have, haven’t we?
According to Zippia statistics, businesses in the U.S:
- Lose about $37 billion per year to unnecessary meetings, and
- Stick to their meeting agendas only 37% of the time.
- Waste 24 billion hours per year on unproductive meetings.
This data might have left you flabbergasted, but companies should not neglect these facts.
But, how can you make your meetings more fruitful?
This article will address the concept of Agile meetings, whose main goal is to be efficient. We’ll explain in detail:
- What Agile meetings are,
- 5 types of Agile meetings,
- Benefits of Agile meetings, and
- Software that can help.
Table of Contents
What is Agile?
According to Agile Alliance, the term “Agile” refers to “the ability to create and respond to change”. In the business world, this means that companies using Agile can adapt to changes very quickly and react accordingly. Their projects are managed in such a way that work is divided into short tasks which are reviewed and adjusted as needed.
This says a lot. Still, there is more we can include in order to explain how Agile applies to work practices.
Have you heard of the Agile Manifesto?
Back in February 2001, an enthusiastic group of 17 experts gathered with the aim of discussing the future of software development.
In search of a new format that would encompass frameworks such as Extreme Programming, Scrum, Crystal, and others, and despite being competitors, they agreed on the Manifesto for Agile Software Development.
What does the Agile Manifesto state?
Not only does the Manifesto adopt new perspectives, but it also highlights the importance of having committed individuals and mutual trust between the team and a customer. This document highly values adaptiveness and continuous improvement.
The group of 17, named the Agile Alliance, also adopted 12 Principles behind the Agile Manifesto. These principles identify customer satisfaction, quality software, and team cooperation as top priorities.
So, now we can go back to the initial question: What is Agile?
The Manifesto and its principles clearly show what Agile is — a mindset. The set of values and ideas that were adopted changed the direction of software development and brought a different perspective to business organization.
Over the course of 20 years, Agile has been embraced by other industries and fields such as advertising and marketing, healthcare, and non-profit organizations.
Since team cooperation is the core of Agile, we are now going to focus on Agile meetings, which show how the adopted principles are used in practice.
What are Agile meetings?
Agile meetings are highly efficacious meetings whose goal is to keep the team informed on every single part of the project life cycle.
The Manifesto principles state that teams should favor:
- Daily meetings,
- Face-to-face communication, and
- Regular reviews of their work.
These meetings are purpose-driven, have a specific system, and imply constant teamwork so that everyone can provide feedback on their work progress or roadblocks.
The focus of further analysis of meeting types will be on the Scrum methods and principles because Scrum is the most popular Agile methodology framework in project development.
In Scrum, Agile meetings are also known as Scrum ceremonies.
Who takes part in Agile meetings?
The following team members participate in Agile meetings:
- Developers — This team includes experts that use their knowledge and share it with co-workers in order to create the final product. They are members of the Scrum Team.
- Scrum Master — The person responsible for guiding the team in understanding Scrum. Scrum Masters assist the team in applying Agile methods and values.
- Product Owner — A member of the Scrum Team in charge of defining objectives and putting on a list of tasks that should be completed (Product Backlog). This person represents stakeholders.
- Stakeholders — The term stakeholder refers to the people who are not members of the Scrum Team, but have information on the product and interest in it.
💡 Plaky Pro Tip
To find out more about the difference between a Product Owner and a project manager, we recommend this blog post:
Not all of them take part in all meetings, but they all have important roles and duties within their scope of work.
Knowing now who takes part in the meetings, we can tell you more on the types of meetings and describe the ways they are managed.
5 Types of Agile meetings
The aim of Agile meetings is to minimize long sitting and shooting the breeze and only highlight the key points that are currently important for the project.
There are 5 types of meetings and, as you’ll see, each of these has a specific agenda.
Type #1: Sprint Planning meeting
To understand the aim of Sprint Planning meetings, we will first explain what a Sprint is.
A Sprint refers to a period of time during which the team needs to achieve certain goals by completing specific tasks and readying the results for review. When one Sprint finishes, the team starts the next one.
The Sprint Planning meeting gathers the entire Development Team, the Product Owner, and Scrum Master.
This meeting is the first segment of every Sprint. The goal of this meeting is to plan the Sprint, review the priority items of the Product Backlog, and assign tasks to team members.
How is the Sprint Planning meeting managed?
Prior to the meeting, the Product Owner is obliged to create a Product Backlog, i.e. a list of tasks that should be done during the project. The list usually includes software requirements, bug fixes, user stories, and other features related to the final product.
When the participants meet, they discuss what tasks can be done during the current Sprint and create a Sprint goal.
After the tasks have been assigned and prioritized, the team should leave the meeting ready to tackle the tasks, and everyone should know what their job is.
Planning takes time and therefore these meetings usually last longer. The time needed for the meeting depends on the Sprint length.
For example, every week of your Sprint requires 2 hours of meeting time. If your Sprint lasts 2 weeks, the Sprint Planning meeting should take 4 hours.
Tips for the Sprint Planning meeting
- If possible, break large tasks into smaller ones to ease the work.
- Be aware of the team capacity because some team members may not be available all the time.
- Make sure that remote team members also participate in the meeting via conference calls and try to keep track of the meeting main points and agreements so that everyone can refer to them.
Type #2: Daily stand-up meeting
Daily stand-ups are also called Daily Scrum meetings. They are conducted on a daily basis and involve doing quick checks of everyone’s progress.
The participants often stand in these meetings, however it is a matter of preference.
The Developers take part in the session. In case the Product Owner or Scrum Master work as developers on some tasks, they can also attend.
The purpose of these meetings is for each team member to review their work and share any problems they have encountered.
How is the daily stand-up meeting managed?
Once a day, the team gathers in a daily stand-up meeting, and each team member reports on:
- Previous day tasks,
- Impediments, and
- Plan for the day ahead.
The team shares important information, makes quick decisions and adjusts their plan. In this meeting, the team can uncover blockers and move on with work according to schedule.
Daily stand-ups are generally held in the morning, but the team is free to decide on the exact timing that suits their work organization.
These meetings are about 15 minutes long. It is recommended to schedule them at the same time every day.
Tips for the daily stand-up meeting
- In this meeting, each team member should have a few minutes to talk. The meeting should be an opportunity for the co-workers to cooperate and support each other.
- The goal of this meeting is not to see who’s done the most work, but rather to provide project progress transparency and offer a chance to ask your colleagues for help.
Type #3: Sprint Review meeting
The third type of meeting in Scrum is the Sprint review, and it usually has the largest attendance.
The Sprint Review meeting is attended by the Development Team, Scrum Master, Product Owner, and all the relevant stakeholders.
This meeting is used to demonstrate what has been accomplished during the Sprint. It is a very dynamic session used to review the Sprint and collect feedback.
How is the Sprint Review meeting managed?
Since there are so many attendees, the Scrum Master is supposed to arrange a conference room and the necessary equipment for the presentation.
When everyone is present, the Product Owner provides information on the work that has been completed, new features that have been added, and the value these achievements have for the product and the customer.
After the presentation, the stakeholders provide their feedback and ask questions. These comments should be taken into account for the next Sprint. Also, the Product Owner should update the Backlog with new requirements, if there are any.
One week of Sprint corresponds to 1 hour of a Sprint Review meeting. If your sprint is 2 weeks long, then you have 2 hours for the demo.
Tips for the Sprint Review Meeting
- The presentation should be practiced and thoroughly prepared in order to enable a systematic and full-scale review.
- It is highly recommendable to ensure that all the relevant people are present for the meeting.
Type #4: Sprint Retrospective meeting
A retrospective implies rethinking something from the past. This is exactly what’s done in Sprint Retrospective meetings — reviewing the last Sprint to improve the quality of the next one.
Those who take part in the Retrospective are the Developers, Scrum Master, and Product Owner.
In this meeting, the participants discuss and analyze their performance during the recently terminated Sprint. By analyzing the previous Sprint, they make plans on how to improve the quality of the next one.
How is the Sprint Retrospective meeting managed?
When the participants gather, they should all summarize their work and focus on answering the three main questions:
- What did we do well?
- What mistakes did we make?
- What can we do differently to avoid making the same mistakes in the future?
Some of the possible topics that can be discussed are:
- Lack of communication,
- Possible improvements,
- Risk reduction, etc.
These meetings usually take 1 to 2 hours for shorter Sprints, but the maximum is 3.
Tips for the Sprint Retrospective meeting
- When you spot previous faults, they should serve as a valuable lesson.
- Sprint Retrospective meetings should not be omitted even if the sprint was a success. There is always room for improvement.
Type #5: Backlog refinement meeting (backlog grooming)
This type of meeting takes place during the Sprint, and even though it doesn’t belong to the fixed group of Scrum meetings, many include this meeting into their regular agenda.
The Developers and the Product Owner participate in the meeting.
The main purpose of the meeting is to refine the Product Backlog and make adjustments. According to Scrum Guide, the aim is to break down Product Backlog items into smaller ones and improve these items by adding small details such as description, order, and size.
How is the Backlog Refinement meeting managed?
This meeting provides a perfect opportunity to remember the Project Goals and check if you are on the right track.
As ScrumInc states, after a thorough analysis of the current items, the participants discuss the best ways to split large items into smaller chunks, re-estimate existing items, and make estimates for new ones.
Backlog refinement meetings are not time-boxed and their duration depends on the needs of the Scrum Team.
Tips for the Backlog refinement meeting
- Everyone should come prepared to this meeting and they should not lose sight of the Project Goal in the process.
- Use this meeting to forecast and spot any risks or roadblocks.
💡 Plaky Pro Tip
If you are interested in finding more details on backlog refinement in project management, we recommend the following article:
Benefits of Agile meetings
Agile approach has a widespread use in many fields because of the benefits it brings, including:
- Better team collaboration,
- Large projects can be broken down into smaller and manageable segments,
- Constant feedback and adaptability,
- Better product quality,
- Greater employee satisfaction and engagement,
- Greater customer satisfaction,
- Direct stakeholder involvement,
- Encouragement of self-organization and personal commitment,
- Lower costs,
- Mutual planning of tasks and time and defining objectives, etc.
But, to reap the rewards of these benefits, you have to maintain steady insight into what goes on with a project.
Using project management software is the best way to keep track of all the changes and details that take place during a project lifecycle. You can use it in conjunction with your other software development tools to achieve the best results.
How can project management software help your Agile meetings?
Transparency and improved communication are essential elements of Agile meetings. If managers choose an Agile approach, they will certainly need quality Agile PM software to support their hard work.
One of the best software solutions on the market is Plaky, which is free and user-friendly project and task management software.
Software development teams that favor Agile can make great use of Plaky. The entire development process can be tracked in one place. You can easily make a Product Backlog, prioritize tasks, and keep everything in order.
Among other features, Plaky offers ready-made templates for:
Plaky enables flexibility and faster communication. Agile teams can share updates, provide feedback, and ask questions on one centralized platform.
It is also possible to make Sprint plans, build and refine your products, and have immediate access to the activity log.
In short, Plaky is a tool that facilitates the management of Agile projects.
Conclusion: Agile meetings give great results when managed in the right way
We are aware that it is far from easy to manage meetings, no matter what approach you take. Despite trying to get everyone involved or prevent unnecessary topics from emerging, it’s not uncommon for meetings to devolve into lengthy talks without proper structure.
Agile meetings, and especially those in Scrum, are designed to wipe out needless detours and time wasters. The specific structure of these meetings allows teams to carefully plan, share problems, and provide feedback. This way, they can solve issues as they arise and keep up with the arranged plan.
To sum up, an Agile approach supported by the right software makes a solid foundation for project success. When a team knows the ins and outs of the plan and has transparent software to rely on, they can direct all their energy into getting their work done.
What’s more, a well organized project brings great results and derives customer satisfaction and trust in a team behind the project.
✉️ Are you familiar with Agile? Have you ever participated in an Agile meeting? If yes, we would like to hear from you. Feel free to share your impression of agile meetings and email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We might use your story in this or some other article. If you know anyone interested in putting an agile approach to meetings in use, please share this article with them.