Going Agile: Planning for the Demo and Planning meetings

Now that we are scrumming daily and we have agreed a 2 weeks cadence, it is time to start planning for the next set of meetings: Planning, Demos (Reviews) and Retrospectives.

Scrum has four meetings or ceremonies that you must do within a iteration. Here is how they are described by the Scrum Alliance

  • Planning: the team meets with the product owner to choose a set of work to deliver during a sprint
  • Daily scrum: the team meets each day to share struggles and progress
  • Demo/Reviews: the team demonstrates to the product owner what it has completed during the sprint
  • Retrospectives: the team looks for ways to improve the product and the process.

Show me the money!

The value in Demo meetings is that you get to see what the team has done and how it brings value to your customers. However, it is not as simple as it sounds… there are two things that can make a Demo inefficient:

  • Lack of preparation – people scrambling for demos, you hear things such as “it used to work 2 hours ago, but it is broken now due to work for the next iteration”
  • Old habits (die hard) – the tendency is still to ask people “did you finish?”, and  then tick the box, rather than “show me what you did?”

This is pretty challenging to do remotely, hence I have enlisted the help of technology. After researching what screen-sharing tools work well within Ubuntu and which ones did not require any software to be installed by the viewers, I selected Yuuguu.  It seems very easy to use, simple and the license cost is cheaper than other alternatives. We will try it this Thursday and see how it goes.

Demo meetings are also a good opportunity to discuss if something is really really done (or not)

Planning for the next iteration

The Planning meeting aim is to agree:

  • What is the priority order for User Stories to be delivered in the next iteration (Product Owner)
  • How much work can be delivered in the next iteration (Team)

Then the team needs to start breaking down into tasks the User Stories, and start forming the task board for the next 2 weeks.

Scheduling the Meetings

As Planning meetings happen at the start of the iteration and Demos at the end, this means that Demo.n and Planning.n+1 need to happen pretty close.  I have participated on same-day Morning Demos and Afternoon Planning sessions. However, this is not an option for us due to the timezones that the Ubuntu Certification team is spread over. To minimise the number of meetings we have, we are going to re-use our weekly meetings for the Scum ceremonies.

Every other week, the team 1-hour-call will be a 30 minutes Demo, followed by 30 minutes Planning, followed by 30 mins in IRC to elavorate the task board for the iteration. This is a pretty packed schedule! In my last team, Demo sessions lasted 1 hour, but that was for 3 scrum teams. However, I am uneasy at running Demo and Planning sessions back to back. This doesn’t allow enough time for the Demo outcome to feed into the Planning. We will have to see how it goes.

The weeks in between, we will hold a “open topic” meeting that I hope covers the value of the retrospective.  The team has already a good culture of self-review and raising areas for improvements, so a regular forum to discuss them will be great!

2 thoughts on “Going Agile: Planning for the Demo and Planning meetings

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