1. Sprint Planning. Agile Ceremonies Demystified. A four part series written by Angela Boardman, CSM, CSP ATG (4284)

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1 ATG (4284) Agile Ceremonies Demystified A four part series written by Angela Boardman, CSM, CSP 1. Sprint Planning Agile.maybe you have heard of it. Does your company want to adopt Agile practices but you re not really sure what it is or what it will mean for your organization? The basic definition of Agile Software development is: A group of software development methods based on iterative and incremental development, where requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organizing, cross-functional teams. More and more organizations are adopting some form of Agile development practice because, done correctly, IT WORKS. There are several flavors of Agile development methodologies. Scrum is quickly becoming the most popular framework in the US today, and is the basis of what ATG promotes. This article doesn t intend to be all encompassing, but is simply an introduction to the key ceremonies used in an Agile-Scrum development process. Don t let the word ceremony scare you. This word is used because these aren t your typical meetings. They are structured with very specific purposes and expected outcomes, and designed to maximize the investment of each team members time. The 4 key ceremonies used in an agile/scrum project methodology are: 1. Sprint Planning 2. The Daily Stand-up 3. Sprint Retrospective 4. Sprint Review In Scrum, a sprint is a time-boxed iteration during which development occurs, and at the end, the team delivers increments of working software. Sprint Planning is the meeting where the team defines the goals of the Sprint. The Product Owner (PO) presents the priorities they have identified for the Sprint. The team will discuss each item, the PO can clarify requirements on-the-spot, assumptions will be uncovered; high-level technical approach is also discussed so that developers are in alignment and this gives the PO a better understanding of the level of complexity. The PO can also re-prioritize work to get the most business value based on team effort. Everyone is expected to provide input and everyone s voice is taken into account when determining the actual level of effort. This is the most intense of the Scrum ceremonies, but in a few hours, the team is ready to begin developing against the highest priority work. Several items to note as to why this works (vs. a traditional project manager outlining priorities and estimates as they see them): The entire team is involved. Because this is done as a team, there is buy-in and shared commitment for the work to be done during the Sprint. The Product Owner has insight into the technical aspects of what is involved. While they may not understand the details, they gain an appreciation for the amount of work to be done and why some things that seem simple aren t always what they seem. With proper review of the requirements, conversations should flesh out ambiguities up-front, enabling developers to develop the right thing the first time. Everyone is communicating from the beginning. This sets the tone for the whole spirit of Agile/Scrum. We build cohesive teams without barriers based on title or job descriptions. A TEAM who is working together to develop the most valuable product with the least time-to-market.

2 Agile Ceremonies Demystified Page 2 2. The Daily Stand-Up The Daily Stand-up is a sync-up between the entire team; this is NOT a status update to a project manager. Prior to the stand-up, all team members should have updated their stories and tasks on the story board. (Either sticky notes on a wall or whatever software tool is being used to track the project). The team can review the burn-down and see if the sprint is on track or is in jeopardy of missing the targeted velocity. The Scrum Master is responsible for deciding what corrective measures to take to keep the Sprint on track. In 15 minutes or less, each team member tells the rest of the team: What they completed since the last stand-up What they plan to complete until the next meeting Any impediments, or items standing in their way from completing intended work Cross-talk is a no-no. Additional discussion can be continued during a 16th minute, and involve only those who have an interest in that topic. The goal is to share information regularly, but not to waste anyone s time that doesn t need to be involved in details that so many times we needlessly get sucked into during a typical status meeting. Key benefits of the daily stand-up: 1. The team stays in sync with how the project is going 2. There is an opportunity for swift course correction if needed 3. By consistently committing and delivering, trust is built among team members 4. Action can be taken with those who are consistently unable to make their commitments (not always pleasant, but usually necessary)

3 3. The Sprint Retrospective Agile Ceremonies Demystified Page 3 A retrospective is held at the end of every Sprint. One of the principles of the Agile Manifesto is The team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly. This is the opportunity for the team to openly discuss what went well during the Sprint that should continue, and what areas need improvement. Everyone is expected to have an open mind during the retrospective this is not a post-mortem to place blame or point fingers; everyone is alsovexpected to take responsibility where it is due and make improvements where they can. Each team member is asked to identify specific things the team should: 1. Start doing 2. Stop doing 3. Continue doing After the list is compiled, the team decides what action items to take on as goals for the next Sprint. At atg, we keep a historic list of retrospective items from the end of every Sprint. We then carry forward the goals to the next Sprint. Our retrospectives always begin with a review of items selected as goals from the prior retrospective. Of course, ALL of the ceremonies are important, and if you took any of them away you wouldn t have an effective Agile/ Scrum project. But if I had to pick one ceremony as the most important, I would say the retrospective is it. The retrospective encourages continually improving team effectiveness in a non-threatening forum. How great is that? To be able to let down our defenses, own up to where we really need to improve, know our team mates are there to have our backs and support us, work together to come up with a better plan if the current plan isn t working. And if the current plan IS working, how can it work even better? Any team doing retrospectives in the true spirit of Agile/Scrum will find a way to continually improve their process, no matter how well-oiled and efficient they are today. And that IS what the retrospective is all about!

4 Agile Ceremonies Demystified Page 4 4. The Sprint Review At the end of each sprint, a meeting called a review, or sometimes called a demo, is held. During this meeting the team shows what they accomplished during the sprint, typically by demoing new software features. Participants of the review are usually the Product Owner, the Scrum team, the Scrum Master, and possibly other managers, customers, and developers from other projects. The actual sprint review is very informal this is not a pretty power-point presentation. This is developers showing working software (and sometimes mostly working software, and that s ok). For the Product Owner, it s the chance to give some feedback maybe they decide to adjust the font or move a button, or change the garish green background to something more pleasing. The sprint review meeting should not become a distraction or significant detour for the team; rather, it should be a natural result of the sprint. The project is also assessed against the sprint goal determined during the Sprint Planning meeting. Ideally the team has completed each product backlog item brought into the sprint, but it is more important that they achieve the overall goal of the sprint. Each of these ceremonies is necessary for the success of a properly run Agile-Scrum project. Exactly how they are implemented will look different for each organization based on many factors. Let ATG be part of your success in embracing the Agile-Scrum that is right for your company culture!

5 At ATG, we work in industries that run lean, are highly competitive and undergo continuous, disruptive change. To companies in our world, effectively managing complex revenue and customer interaction processes is the definition of running a successful business.which is why they turn to ATG. We are seasoned practitioners who understand the intricacies and complexities of customer and revenue management in companies large and small. We also understand the environment our clients operate in one complicated by evolving technologies, changing competition and a critical sense of urgency. Because of that, we take a flexible approach that identifies client needs and quickly puts the right resources in the right places to address those needs. The result is an environment that tightly aligns people, process, and technology to ensure responsiveness to the needs of the business, a kind of synchronicity that helps clients avoid misses, increase customer satisfaction, sell add-on services and ultimately, improve customer loyalty. To our way of thinking, that s why good businesses put so much emphasis on customer care in the first place. We have earned our reputation by providing the right resources at the right time, for the right duration, and at the right price. We bring senior experts who value honesty, integrity and hard work. We minimize risk for our clients, and provide nimble subject matter expertise around customer and revenue management. Some of these clients include: InterCall, CenturyLink and Savvis. Corporate Headquarters: 9401 Indian Creek Parkway, Suite 670 Overland Park, Kansas Missoula Solution Center: 216 W. Main Street, Suite 110 Missoula, MT Other locations: 1795 Clarkson Road, Suite 301 St. Louis, MO Madison Avenue, Suite 603 Covington, KY DTC Parkway, Penthouse 4 Greenwood Village, CO

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