What are scrum ceremonies (what they are and how they work)?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 8 April 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Businesses developing products require structured and efficient ways for their teams to work to get the best possible product produced. One method of working is with a scrum framework that makes use of scrum ceremonies. These scrum ceremonies are specific meetings with defined participants, goals and time constraints. In this article, we explore what scrum ceremonies are, why they are important and how they work.

What are scrum ceremonies?

Scrum ceremonies are components of the scrum framework, which is a process that helps organisations develop business solutions for complex problems and add value to the goods and services that they provide. The scrum framework is an agile process that teams from around the world use to develop products. It has four events called ceremonies. Each ceremony is a very specific meeting with clearly defined participants, goals and time constraints.

The purpose of the scrum ceremonies is to provide transparency and enable communication for the team during the delivery of a product or a component thereof. The ceremonies provide scrum teams with a framework to establish expectations, carry out work in a structured and efficient manner, inspire collaborative working between team members and produce positive outcomes.

Related: Different types of project management methodologies

Why are scrum ceremonies important?

Scrum ceremonies are important as they assist scrum teams to align their goals, streamline their work and develop the higher priority elements of a product. They also allow teams to create substantial returns on investment for their clients. The scrum ceremonies improve the efficiency of the team and increase the quality of a product developed during a sprint. Other benefits of scrum ceremonies that make them important for the success of a team include:

Greater customer satisfaction

Scrum ceremonies improve customer satisfaction by allowing members of development teams consider new ways to add value to the product. They can also identify how they can improve and develop new solutions through product development.

Higher levels of innovation

Scrum ceremonies allow the team to have a good understanding of timelines and allow for frequent meetings. This in turn ensures that team members stay focused and execute tasks in a timely manner. It also provides the team with an opportunity to discuss challenges and develop solutions with other members of the team. This helps to ensure that the team members can meet the requirements of the scrum.

Clear expectations

Scrum ceremonies allow for cross-functional collaboration between team members and help to establish expectations for members of the scrum team. This assists in preventing confusion regarding roles and responsibilities and can lead to quicker production of the product as all the members of the team clearly understand the tasks. Team members also know who to approach for assistance with particular tasks in scrum ceremonies.

Cross-channel collaboration

Scrum ceremonies are also important as they enable effective communication among the product stakeholders, product owners and the development team. The cross-functional approach assists teams in creating innovative business solutions. This collaboration helps to ensure the delivery of high-quality products and keeps innovation brewing.

How do scrum ceremonies work?

Team members involved in a scrum ceremony take on a specific role for which they have defined responsibility. This is important so that it's clear who is doing what. The role a team member may take on in a scrum ceremony may be one of the following key roles:

Scrum master

The responsibility of the scrum master is to oversee the development process and to facilitate improvements to it. They also make sure that the development team has everything to complete the tasks assigned to them. Typical tasks that a scrum master carries out include scheduling meetings and communicating the team's progress and difficulties they are experiencing.

Related: What is a scrum master's role and how to become one?

Product owner

This role may include team members or clients and may comprise several individuals. They are responsible for making key product decisions and helping prioritise items before each scrum sprint. A scrum sprint is a timed effort in a project usually limited to one month or less).

Related: Product owner responsibilities within a development project

Development team

This is a group of cross-functional team members who focus on the delivery of the product. The members of the development team may comprise developers, designers or quality assurance. It may also include any other production, delivery or technical roles that collaborate on the development of the product.

Four scrum ceremonies

There are four main scrum ceremonies that each have specific participants, goals and associated time frames that allow the process to be as effective as possible. The four fundamental scrum ceremonies are:

1. Sprint planning

The first scrum ceremony is the sprint planning ceremony that assists the scrum team in preparing for upcoming sprints so that each member of the development team is ready to carry out the tasks assigned to them. The length of most scrum ceremonies relates to the length of the sprint. In the case of the sprint planning ceremony, it lasts approximately two times the length of the sprint (in hours). For example, if the sprint is four weeks long, the spring planning ceremony lasts around 8 hours.

This ceremony involves the scrum master, product owner and the development team. The product owner provides the product backlog to the development team. The product owner and the development team collaboratively discuss the product backlog and create a sprint backlog, which is a list of objects they intend to complete by the end of the next sprint. The development team asks questions to help clarify their sprint work and negotiate with the product owner about the expectations. Once this happens, the development team estimate and forecast the extent of work they can produce during an allotted amount of time.

2. Daily scrum

The daily scrum is a ceremony that provides the team a chance to gather, define a plan of action for the day's work and identify any possible obstacles the team might navigate around. This ceremony usually only involves the scrum master and the development team. The product owner may occasionally be an optional attendee to listen in on the daily scrum ceremony.

The daily scrum ceremonies allow a scum team to meet frequently and encourage them to discuss their process towards accomplishing particular sprint goals. The daily scrum also encourages collaboration and team cohesion, which allows team members to track their progress and discuss any boundaries or hurdles they've encountered. During the daily scrum, members of the development team often attempt to answer these questions:

  • What did you accomplish yesterday?

  • What are you planning on completing today?

  • Are there any potential impediments or challenges to your plan?

Daily scrum ceremonies are intentionally short and last no more than 15 minutes, regardless of the length of the sprint.

3. Sprint review

The sprint review is a scrum ceremony where the development team showcases all the completed work to the product stakeholders. It usually lasts one hour per week of the sprint. As an example, a three-week-long sprint requires a three-hour-long sprint review. The full scrum team including the product owner, scrum master and development team and a mixture of product stakeholders attend. Product stakeholders may include a mixture of management, external stakeholders, customers or even developers from other products.

This scrum ceremony allows product stakeholders to examine and assess the team's progress as soon as they have completed a sprint, giving them a chance to adapt to the emerging product and highlight potential areas of improvement. This ceremony may feature a formal structure or a more casual tone depending on the nature of the product and the preferences of your client. They provide an opportunity for the scrum team to highlight the value they've added during the sprint through product development.

Related: How to get scrum master certifications (plus career info)

4. Sprint retrospective

The sprint retrospective is the last scrum ceremony and it provides the scrum team with an opportunity to reflect on the completed work and to discuss ways in which to improve. This ceremony usually only involves the scrum master and the development team. The product owner may occasionally be an optional attendee to listen in on the daily scrum ceremony.

Team members often use this ceremony as a platform for productive discussion. This ceremony often aims to ensure productivity with each sprint and streamlines efficiency with future springs. Team members may attempt to answer the following questions during a sprint retrospective:

  • What went well during the last sprint?

  • What could have gone better during the last sprint?

  • What can we do differently as a team to continue to improve?

The sprint retrospective ceremony usually lasts one and a half hours per week of the sprint. As an example, a two-week-long sprint requires a three-hour-long sprint retrospective.

Related:

  • Project manager vs scrum master: what's the difference?


Explore more articles