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When to Schedule your Agile Scrum Ceremonies?

Updated: Nov 10, 2021

As a new Scrum Master in an Agile team or if you created a new Agile Scrum team, one of the things that you will need to take action on is scheduling your agile scrum ceremonies, which are also called Scrum events.

Here, we will cover 3 main things when it comes to scheduling Scrum Ceremonies:

  1. What Scrum Ceremonies need to be scheduled during a Sprint?

  2. When to schedule your Agile Scrum Ceremonies during a Sprint? - Most common schedules with PROs and CONs for each

  3. Our recommended Agile Scrum Ceremony schedule used the most

What Scrum Ceremonies need to be scheduled during a Sprint?

The Scrum Ceremonies that should be part of every Scrum team are:

  • Sprint Planning

  • Daily Stand-up

  • Sprint Review, which includes Demo

  • Sprint Retrospective

  • And Refinements

Note: If you want to learn more about these Scrum Ceremonies and how to facilitate them, we will cover these in a later blog post.

When to schedule your Agile Scrum Ceremonies during the Sprint?

Most teams adhere to a two-week sprint. This means that all the ceremonies listed above will need to fit within the two week timeline. Within the two week sprint, we’ll examine the most common schedules:

  • One that starts with Sprint Planning at the beginning of the week

  • And the another with Sprint Planning starting mid-week

We will highlight the Pros and Cons of each option

Let’s start with the schedule starting at the beginning of the week. The Sprint Planning would be scheduled Monday, so the team can hit the ground running and start working towards the Sprint. Usually the Sprint Planning would be done first thing in the morning on Monday, so the team can start working towards the sprint itself right after.

Sprint Review & Demo should be one meeting in which the Scrum team reviews what was accomplished during the Sprint and demos the work complete.The entire Scrum team and main stakeholders are required to attend this session. This meeting is done at the end of the Sprint which in this scenario, this event would be scheduled Friday

Sprint Retrospective is done at the end of the sprint as well. This session is normally held after the Sprint Review session and before the next Sprint Planning. The Scrum team meets without stakeholders and reviews what went well during the Sprint and what should be improved. There are multiple ways to facilitate this session. With this schedule, this session is done Friday as well, at the end of the Sprint.

Daily Stand-up is pretty straight forward — a daily status report meeting among the members of an Agile team. This is held daily except on the days when Sprint Planning and Sprint Demo are occurring. Stand-ups are typically not needed during those days.

Even though we know Backlog Refinement sessions are no longer shown as an event in the Scrum Guide and is something development teams should do as an ongoing part of development, I highly recommend for placeholder meetings to be scheduled on the calendar for the team. In the real world, most teams will not have a ready backlog to bring to their Sprint Planning without some dedicated sessions. Schedule at least one session per week, so the Scrum team can have one or two Sprints worth of user stories refined and ready in the backlog.

Now let’s review the upsides and downside for this calendar option:

Pros: > Having Sprint Planning on Monday starts the week fresh and provides a plan for the rest of the week. > Ending the Sprint on Friday with Sprint Demo and Retro gives the team a sense of accomplishment before the weekend and can be followed by some kind of celebration. Some teams go out after work on Friday at the end of the Sprint and to celebrate the finish of the Sprint. > Another benefit is that the weekend works as a break and rest for the team between each sprint.
Cons: > Holidays and vacations days tend to fall more on Mondays and Fridays, which could lead to having to move Sprint Planning or Sprint Review > In some companies, Mondays tend to be busy with other corporate events or meetings, which could result in low attendance during Sprint Review or team members missing Sprint Planning

Another option is a mid-week schedule. This starts with Sprint Planning on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. For this example, we will go with Wednesday. The idea behind having a Sprint Planning mid-week is to increase the Scrum team and stakeholder attendance during the Agile Scrum Ceremonies as mentioned earlier.

With this type of schedule, the Sprint Review & Demo would be done Tuesday.

Sprint Retrospective would be held either Tuesday or Wednesday, but it has to be done between Sprint Review and Sprint Planning. In this case, my recommendation would be Tuesday. Some teams might load all 3 meetings in the same day on Wednesdays, instead of spreading them over the two days.

Daily Stand-up should again be held daily, except on the days when Sprint Planning and Sprint Demo are occurring.

Backlog Refinement should also be spread out once a week, as mentioned above.

Now let’s review the upsides and downside for this option:

Pros: > Not having to move ceremonies due to Holidays on Mondays and people taking days off on Fridays > Potentially higher attendance by stakeholders during Sprint demos mid-week
Cons: > There is no rest between the sprints. > Anti-pattern with the business week that starts on Monday > Back-to-back sprints with no break could make the team feel like all the Sprints are connected and not feel like different iterations

Our recommended Agile Scrum Ceremony schedule used the most

My recommendation out of the two schedule options presented, is starting the Sprint on Monday and ending the sprint on Friday with Review and Retrospective. This option is the most successful due to the weekend working as a break and rest for the team. Finishing with Review with Demo on Fridays motivates the team to finish the work by the end of the week. Friday also tends to be a good day to celebrate the finalization of a Sprint with the team.

Stay tuned for a future blog post if you want to know how long a ceremony should be scheduled for each session.

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