A Guide To Managing Agile Meetings

You don’t have to listen too hard to hear the complaints about meetings. The average worker spends 21% of their time in these sitdowns. And, even worse, they feel that 25% of that time is wasted. Grievances aside, meetings have their time, place, and benefits, especially when it comes to Agile meetings. In fact, meetings in Agile methodology are a core piece of the development process. 

When they’re done well, Agile meetings aren’t viewed as unproductive time sucks. Instead, they help Agile teams improve their efficiency and effectiveness. Let’s talk about what these meetings are, why they’re important, and how you can do them right. 

What are Agile meetings?

To understand the ins and outs of Agile meetings, you first need to understand what Agile is. 

Although Agile began as an approach for better software development, it has since gained popularity across a number of different teams and industries. 

It’s often misunderstood as a specific process or framework. But, that’s not entirely correct. Instead, Agile is a governing set of ideals and principles that are set forth in the Agile manifesto

The full list of principles in the manifesto is worth a read, but here’s the rub: Agile involves working in shorter time frames, which offers regular intervals to reflect, adjust, and become more effective. It’s all about iterative development, rather than tackling something in one swing and realizing way too late that you’re on the wrong track. 

While Agile itself isn’t a framework, there are a number of different frameworks that fall under the Agile umbrella. The two most popular are: 

Scrum: Uses set intervals of work (called “sprints”) where teams work for a specific amount of time and then evaluate their output and processes at the end of each cycle.

Kanban: Focuses on improving workflows and visualizing a team’s work (this is where a Kanban board comes from) continuously.

In this article, we’re going to focus on the Scrum framework, as that’s the framework that’s built around several different types of Agile methodology meetings (which we’ll dig into a little later).

So now, to the big question: What is an Agile meeting?

Unlike a traditional meeting where you might discuss a dozen different topics, Agile meetings are highly-focused and meant to be as efficient as possible without tangents or extraneous conversations. Every meeting has a clear objective that should be achieved — such as evaluating the previous sprint or planning for the next one.

Can Agile meetings work remotely?

Yes, Agile meetings can be done remotely. However, they do present some hurdles. As McKinsey and Company explains, some challenges of remote Agile meetings include: 

  • Conversations can quickly become unstructured and inefficient
  • Alignment of a large group doesn’t happen as naturally
  • Demonstrations can be difficult
  • Psychological safety can suffer, which is important for retrospectives

When leading remote Agile meetings, you’ll need to be flexible and find out what works best for your team. Maybe you need to breakout into smaller groups for collaborative discussions. Or perhaps you need to add another type of meeting to your schedule (so, for example, your sprint planning sessions don’t turn into problem-solving sessions). 

Who attends Agile meetings?

One of the best ways to ensure you’re set up for an effective and efficient meeting is to evaluate your attendee list. That way, everybody who needs to be there is present — but you aren’t clogging up other people’s calendars if they have nothing to contribute to the conversation.

A Guide To Managing Agile Meetings 2
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In Agile Scrum meetings, generally the following people are involved:

  • Development team: Development team members are the ones who have boots on the ground and are actually doing the work, so they should be present at all of your Agile meetings.
  • Scrum master: The Scrum master is a leader on the team who helps the team abide by Scrum theories and practices, and helps team members have better interactions. 
  • Product owner: The product owner is one person (typically the key stakeholder) who is accountable for the work of the Scrum team and oversees the product or output of the team.
  • Stakeholders: Stakeholders are any people who have an interest in what the Scrum team is creating, but aren’t directly involved in the process of creating it. 

Don’t worry — below, we’ve spelled out which specific meetings these different players should attend. 

What are the four types of Agile meetings?

You’ll also hear Agile meetings referred to as “ceremonies” or “Scrum events.” As Scrum Alliance explains, there are four specific types of events in Scrum. 

1. Sprint planning meeting

What it is: The sprint planning session is when the Scrum team discusses what work they want to tackle in the next sprint and then prioritizes that work accordingly. 

Meeting goals: 

  • Decide on objectives for the next sprint (i.e. what features should be developed)
  • Divide tasks and responsibilities

Who should attend:

  • Development team
  • Scrum master
  • Product owner

How long it lasts: It’s recommended that you schedule two hours of meeting time for every week of your sprint. So, if your team works in two-week sprints, your sprint planning meeting should be four hours. Cap meetings at eight hours, though. Anything longer than that is too cumbersome.

2. Daily standup meeting

What it is: This Agile standup meeting happens every day of the sprint. It’s a quick check-in on what each team member is working on, how the process is going for them, and what stands in their way. As Scrum Alliance explains, it’s important to note that this isn’t a glorified status update — it’s a chance to improve the process (and ultimately, the end product) daily, before too much more work is invested.

Meeting goals: 

  • Discuss progress on work for that sprint
  • Identify roadblocks and impediments to work

Who should attend: 

  • Development team

How long it lasts: No more than 15 minutes. 

3. Sprint review meeting

What it is: Sprint reviews are easily confused with sprint retrospectives, but the two are different. During the sprint review, the development team presents the work that was done during the sprint (often with a demonstration), with the aim of collecting as much feedback as possible. 

Meeting goals: 

  • Collect feedback

Who should attend:

  • Development team
  • Scrum master
  • Product owner
  • All relevant stakeholders

How long it lasts: It’s recommended to allocate one hour for every week of the sprint. So, if your sprint was two weeks, your sprint review should be two hours. Your sprint review should not go over four hours. 

4. Sprint retrospective meeting

What it is: During a sprint retrospective, the Scrum team focuses specifically on their work together — and not necessarily the product or output. What went well? What didn’t go well? What should they do differently in the next sprint? Each sprint retrospective should conclude with action items the team will implement to improve their collaboration. 

Meeting goals: 

  • Evaluate what worked and what didn’t in the previous sprint
  • Establish action items to improve the next sprint

Who should attend:

  • Development team
  • Scrum master

How long it lasts: It’s recommended that you allow 45 minutes for each week of your sprint. Sticking with our two-week sprint example, your sprint retrospective would be an hour and a half. Sprint retrospectives shouldn’t go longer than three hours. 

Top tips for organizing Agile meetings 

We’ve covered what Agile meetings are, what different types of meetings exist, and who should attend each one. But, what else do you need to know to host effective Agile meetings? Here are a few helpful tips. 

1. Stay focused on your goal

Remember, what sets Agile meetings apart from other meetings is that they’re highly focused. So, you need to stay singularly zoned in on that meeting’s purpose and limit extraneous conversations so lines don’t get blurred. For, example, your daily standup shouldn’t turn into a sprint planning meeting. 

2. Invite collaboration

Successful Agile meetings hinge on collaboration. The team needs to communicate and work together to improve efficiency and, ultimately, their output. This means that there shouldn’t be one person leading each meeting in a very prescriptive way. 

Make sure that each of your team members has an opportunity to chime in and participate. Every single person should be speaking up and sharing in your daily standup, as just one example. 

This collaboration is especially important for remote meetings, when 36% of workers say they’re less engaged when joining a meeting remotely. 

3. Use the tools that are available to you

When it comes to Agile meetings, you don’t need to go it alone. There are a number of different tools and templates that can help you and your team.

For example, using project management software or a collaboration tool will equip you with a lot of valuable information and features — like access to performance metrics, the ability to assign action items, and the existence of a single source of truth.

Additionally, there are plenty of templates, methods, and techniques that can support your Agile meetings. Here are a few common ones for Agile retrospectives in particular:

Not your average meeting: Agile meetings boost efficiency and effectiveness

When done right, Agile meetings shouldn’t be the type of sitdowns that inspire groans and eye rolls. 

On the contrary, these regular, focused conversations help Agile teams improve their collaboration and produce better work. If you ask us, that’s exactly what a meeting is supposed to do. 

Want to access data about your team’s work, assign tasks, and keep communication centralized? Start your free trial of Wrike today.

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