Agile Ceremonies Demystified – Sprint Planning – Part 1 of 4

  • ATG Project Team
  • Viewpoint
  • March 11, 2013

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.


Sprint Planning

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Daily Stand-Up

Read more…

Sprint Retrospective

Read more…

Sprint Review

Read more…

Each will be described in this series.

Sprint Planning

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.

  • veryone 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.

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