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5 Key Agile Ceremonies You Can Learn With CSM Certification

A series of chronological events, Scrum ceremonies are the stepping stones to a successful sprint.

Scrum ceremonies are team meetings – but not quite. In a typical meeting, you will have an agenda and discussion points, and the attendees expect some sort of outcome or clarity on the way ahead. Scrum ceremonies are much more specific and well-defined in terms of purpose and outcome. These Agile ceremonies, also known as events, are an important part of Scrum, so much so that Scrum cannot be complete without these ceremonies. Such is the importance of Scrum ceremonies.

Agile Ceremonies

Source: ThePrefectBA

The Scrum framework defines five distinct Agile ceremonies or events that are instrumental to the successful completion of a Scrum. Each Scrum ceremony has a clear set of goals, timelines, and attending stakeholders. Remove any one of these ceremonies and the Scrum practice fails.

5 Scrum Agile Ceremonies

Scrum puts Agile methodology into practice. Scrum uses cycles of schedules that are often adjustable, which we know as sprints. The information generated out of a sprint is necessary for project development and is Scrum artifacts. The three artifacts relevant to Scrum are product backlog, sprint backlog and increments.

These ceremonies aim to tie together the artifacts, progress made, things to do and retrospect on the work. Understanding the purpose of these ceremonies in detail is necessary to implement Scrum methodologies successfully. A Scrum Master (CSM) training and certification course offers an expert level understanding of the Scrum framework so you can be thorough in your Agile project management.

Here are the five Agile Scrum ceremonies that you will learn with a CSM certification.

1) Backlog Grooming (Product Backlog Refinement)

There is a reason why many Scrum ceremony lists don’t include backlog grooming. It is the only one among the Agile ceremonies that don’t have any defined time box or frequency. Nevertheless, maintaining and updating a product backlog is an important and regular part of Agile project management. This is why it makes sense to include it as one of the five important Scrum ceremonies.

The product manager, product owner and Scrum team regularly reviews, discusses and prioritizes the backlog items through Agile ceremonies grooming sessions. Also known as backlog management, backlog refinement, pre-planning and storytime, it involves several tactical tasks to address in backlog grooming. 

Product Backlog Refinement

Source: QuickScrum

These tasks include adding new items in the backlog, removing outdated tasks and action items, breaking up large items into smaller tasks, rearranging the priority of the backlogs, identifying and addressing threats and risks posing as backlog items, avoiding uncertainty regarding the items in the backlog and so on.

Backlog grooming helps the team to make sure that they are all on the same page when it comes to the new updates and features, bugs and user insights. It accelerates the product building process by reducing the time taken for sprint planning. By constantly refining the backlog, the grooming exercise keeps the backlog relevant.

The person in charge of backlog grooming carries it out in the presence of the product owner, the product manager and members of the product team, lead engineers, and relevant members from customer success, quality and support functions.

Mistakes normally seen in a product grooming exercise include

  • The absence of a product roadmap with a timeline can break the project’s continuity 
  • Mistake in the description, value, priority or effort estimation of the product backlog items
  • Failing to ensure sufficient consultation with the product development team

2) Sprint Planning

The iterative time-boxed periods that repeat themselves throughout the project are sprints. Sprints are uniform in duration and repeat in quick succession. The duration could be anything from a week to a month and the involved teams decide on the duration of the sprints.

The sprint planning ceremony happens when the team decides what it plans to produce during the sprint. They pull out items from one Scrum artifact to another, i.e., from the product backlog to the sprint backlog. The sprint backlog will include all the items it intends to complete by the sprint’s end, and so they become their sprint goals. The entire team decides sprint goals based on the product backlog review. The product backlog must be thorough, in terms of the details of the items, the requirements against them and their acceptance criteria. 

Sprint Planning

Source: Scrum.org

Attended by the development team, Scrum master and the product owner, the duration of these Agile sprint ceremonies shouldn’t be any more than twice the number of hours as the sprint duration in weeks. For instance, a week-long sprint should have a sprint planning of around two hours.

Errors and miscalculations in the sprint planning include

  • The obvious mistake of overpromising the product owner with unrealistic outcomes and then failing to deliver them
  • Conducting a sprint planning ceremony with a flawed or undercooked product backlog
  • Not preparing for the sprint planning ceremony can lead to a waste of time in finalizing the sprint backlog

3) Daily Scrum

Daily Scrums are brief meetings that shouldn’t last more than 15 minutes. These daily standup meetings are meant for the product development team, which discusses what they have completed since the last meeting, what they plan to complete by the next meeting and the roadblocks standing in the way of the work. The presence of the product owner is merely for facilitation and guidance during the meeting. To make sure the daily Scrum sticks to the 15-minute time box, people stand during these Agile ceremonies. 

Daily Scrum

Source: Infinity

The Scrum Master must keep track of the limited time and hold the meeting at the same time every day. Conducted on a lighter note, the basic idea is to follow the daily progress and highlight any problems. 

The daily Scrum often has mistaken items for purposes like

  • Getting a status update of the project, assigning new tasks to the team, or planning
  • The Scrum master starts to guide the team and starts providing instructions, but Scrum is more about self-organization and issue resolution through collaboration
  • Trying to solve technical problems during the ceremony, rather than highlighting them only and addressing them later during the day

4) Sprint Review

The sprint review is at the end of the sprint. The product owner and other stakeholders get a demonstration of the work the development team has done. Besides, the team decides the project’s business context to prioritize future work. Based on the sprint review, the team refines and updates the product backlog.

An important outcome of the sprint review is the recognition of the third Scrum artifact, product increment. Each sprint aims to develop a better version of the product. This improvement is the product increment coming out of a particular sprint. The product increment is a summation of various items. The team tests the compatibility of these items in the improved product before confirming the increment.

Sprint Review

Source: Infinity

A sprint review ceremony lasts for an hour for each week of the sprint’s duration. Unfinished work identified in the sprint review either carries over to the next sprint or is in the product backlog.

Some of the sprint review mistakes include

  • Overemphasis on the demo part, while setting the business context for the future and ignoring required collaborations
  • Concentrating on the work done and not linking it to the project goals, thus limiting the involvement of the stakeholders to their specific lines of business only
  • Not considering the present status of the product backlog, which can lead to a lack of clarity and unrealistic timelines

5) Sprint Retrospective

Sprint Retrospective

Source: Appinventiv

A sprint retrospective closes one round of Agile ceremonies with an inspection of how the sprint went and identification of improvement points for the next sprint. Identifying improvement opportunities and preparing a plan to implement them is the key goal of a sprint retrospective. All members of the Scrum team should attend the retrospective, and it should be a 45-minute session for a one-week sprint. 

One of the common mistakes is reducing sprint retrospective into a mere formality or skipping it altogether. Another mistake would be to turn retrospection into a session of finger-pointing rather than identifying genuine opportunities for improvement.

Agile Ceremonies in CSM Certification

Scrum ceremonies and artifacts are key to the success of an Agile Scrum-based project. Scrum can be as effective as a piece of well-oiled machinery if the group follows the Scrum ceremonies and methodologies zealously. For a team member to contribute meaningfully to a Scrum team, a CSM certification is an essential boost. The GreyCampus CSM training and certification course educates you on all aspects of Scrum methodology and its processes. Apart from a complete knowledge of roles, rules, Agile ceremonies and artifacts, the GreyCampus CSM certification also gives you a Scrum Alliance membership. This instructor-led course provides 1-year access to learning aids and 16 PMI PDUs. 

Some label Scrum as a simple concept that is difficult to master. Mastery of Scrum requires thorough knowledge of concepts like the above-discussed ceremonies or events, and a CSM certification is the right aid in doing so.

Want To Master Agile Scrum Ceremonies? Sign Up for a CSM® Bootcamp Today!

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About The Author

Raktim Sharma is a freelance content writer and entrepreneur. He has 12 years of experience in risk advisory and audit and has a lifelong fondness for creative writing. After leaving the corporate world for business interests, he continues to create content for his clients, magazines, and newspapers. He looks forward to writing about interesting subjects and categories across different formats. Apart from his niche in finance, he also writes on topics related to travel, fiction, technology, lifestyle, web content, business, music, reviews and more.

Raktim Sharma

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