How do you know when your agile ceremonies are Done?

In last week’s article, I wrote about the benefits of having a Definition of Ready for agile ceremonies as one method of ensuring that they are adding value and not being perceived as just more wasteful meetings.

But how do we know that we achieved what we were hoping to from the ceremonies? A Product Owner might walk out of a sprint planning session feeling happy that the team will be delivering a major feature but some team members might feel that they have accepted more product backlog items than can be completed in a quality manner while working reasonable hours.

The Scrum Guide encourages Scrum Teams to create a definition for what “Done” means for product backlog items and for product increments. This ensures consistency in understanding across all stakeholders and ensures that expectations have been met. The same approach could be utilized to ensure that teams aren’t just going through agile ceremony motions.

Here are a few examples of “Doneness” questions for the same ceremonies I had written about in last week’s article.

Sprint Planning

  • Have one or a few key goals for the sprint been articulated by the Product Owner?
  • Does the entire team understand why the goals are important and how they connect back to the product vision or roadmap?
  • Has the Product Owner collaborated with key solution (“How”) stakeholders such that product quality and technical debt were considered when populating the sprint backlog?
  • Has each team member assessed their available capacity and used that knowledge when contributing to the team’s sprint commitment?
  • Does each team member have a “sufficient” understanding of the sprint backlog items to feel confident in the team’s sizing of those items?
  • Has the team reviewed the top ideas from the previous retrospective, shared them with the Product Owner and agreed to act on those in the current sprint?

Scrum/Daily Standup

  • Does each team member feel the team is aligned to doing the highest priority work in support of the sprint and product release goals?
  • Does each team member have a general understanding of what everyone else is working on and the dependencies between each other’s work?
  • Have all potential and realized impediments for the day’s work been surfaced and either addressed or have an owner identified to address them after the standup?

Sprint Review

  • Do the invited stakeholders understand what was completed in the previous sprint?
  • Has feedback been received on all completed product backlog items?
  • Have any new requirements or ideas raised during the ceremony been added to the product backlog or at least captured by the Product Owner?
  • Has the team been given a chance to share their thoughts on the previous sprint?

Sprint Retrospective

  • Did every team member get a chance to contribute to the discussion and did they?
  • Have some improvement ideas been identified and is there a plan in place to act on those, ideally in the upcoming sprint?
  • Did the team assess not just “what” they did, but “how” they did it?
  • Did every team member feel it was a safe environment to share their thoughts?

Similar to a normal Definition of Done, there is no single set of guidelines which should be adopted by all teams and these guidelines may evolve over time as the team inspects and adapts their ways of working. But, as usual, caveat agilist: Focus on the outcomes, not the processes.

“If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.” – Bruce Lee


Categories: Agile, Project Management | Tags: , | 1 Comment

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One thought on “How do you know when your agile ceremonies are Done?

  1. Pingback: New PM Articles for the Week of February 4 – 10 | The Practicing IT Project Manager

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