Agile Ceremonies Definition: What They Are and How to Use Them

Vidas Vasiliauskas ·

2019 - Present Co-founder and CEO @ Teamhood. 2015-2019 Head of software engineering department at Danske Bank. 2017-2018 Partner Associate Professor at Vilnius University. Lecturer of Software Architecture course 2011 - 2015 Managed numerous smaller IT teams at Prewise. Co-founder of RaveIT, Eylean, No Brakes Games Certified Agile product owner and practitioner. Managed large scale enterprise projects as well as launch of small startup products. MSc of Software Engineering at Vilnius University. Hobbies: Racing, MTB cycling, Windsurfing

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In 2021, 86% of software development teams used Agile to create their products. As a methodology or mindset, Agile is constantly increasing in popularity. If you’re not using it yet in your organization, you’re probably thinking about adopting it.

Whether you’re completely new to Agile or you’ve been practicing it for a while and you want to improve, it’s important to be sure that you understand all the basics – including what are the Agile ceremonies. 

This article defines Agile ceremonies, outlines why they are important to Agile, and goes through an Agile ceremonies list – all to help you ensure you understand what they are and how best to use them.

Looking to learn more about Agile, check out this post:

What is Agile?

Definition of Agile ceremonies

Agile ceremonies are just meetings with defined lengths, frequencies, and goals. Each ceremony is different but they work together towards achieving the same overall purpose: to help project teams plan, track, and engage stakeholders with their work. Put most simply, Agile ceremonies are the meetings or events that take place during a Scrum Sprint

Why are Agile ceremonies important?

Each Agile ceremony is there to help you adapt to change. When using Sprints, and planning and executing work in smaller portions over shorter timeframes, the ceremonies help you and your teams to shift direction when needed. 

Ceremonies are essential to successfully adopting and practicing Agile. They help to accelerate product development, increase productivity, and often help to improve the communication and alignment between development teams, IT, and the wider business. 

What the main Agile ceremonies are

There are four main Agile ceremonies. Let’s go through each one in a little more detail:

Sprint Planning

The Sprint planning ceremony establishes the desired outcome for the upcoming Sprint, which backlog items to work on, and how to achieve them. These take place at the beginning of each Sprint. 

The Product Owner talks with the business ahead of the Sprint planning meeting to get any relevant feedback. They are also responsible for updating the product backlog for the meeting. This Sprint backlog is a list of tasks or product features to be delivered during the Sprint. 

The product team then seeks to balance the needs of the business with the capacity of the team when agreeing on which backlog items to prioritize during the upcoming Sprint. Once agreed, each team member knows exactly what they’re working on during the Sprint. 

Typically, these planning meetings last up to eight hours per meeting. 

scrum board with sprints

Best free backlog management tools

Daily Stand-Up

The daily stand-up, or Scrum, is a daily meeting during which team members provide brief updates on what they’ve completed over the previous 24 hours. They also discuss what they plan to work on next and any actual or potential obstacles that are in the way. 

Many project teams include a Scrum Master, who will lead the meetings and make notes of any potential obstacles, as one of their key roles is to remove roadblocks. These meetings are called stand-ups to encourage people to stand and keep the meetings short. Around fifteen minutes is generally recommended as the optimum time for most stand-up meetings. 

Sprint Review

The Sprint review meeting is when the project team showcases what they’ve achieved during the Sprint to key business stakeholders. The Product Owner facilitates the review and seeks feedback from the business on progress-to-date and what items need to be prioritized next.

These reviews typically last up to an hour per week of the Sprint – for example, a two-hour meeting for a two-week Sprint.

Sprint Retrospective

A Sprint retrospective is an excellent tool for helping to ensure your teams get the most out of Agile software development. Because Agile stresses the importance of continuous improvement, having a regular retrospective is one of the most important Agile development practices.

A Sprint retrospective is a meeting held at the end of the Sprint. During this meeting, the team reflects on what happened during the Sprint and identifies actions for improvement by asking the following specific questions:

  • What worked well for us? / What did we do well?
  • What did not work well for us? / What could we do better?
  • What actions could we take to improve our process going forward?

The retrospective is team driven. Team members should decide how to run the meetings and how to make decisions about the improvements they need to make. The team reflects on how everything went and then decides what changes to make in the next iteration.

You can use a sprint retrospective board in Teamhood to capture improvements and get feedback on action items from the entire team. This is how that looks:

agile retrospective kanban

How to manage Agile projects on Teamhood

Teamhood’s suite of project management software tools is perfect for Agile lifecycle management, with a range of solutions and features to help your organization navigate the six phases of Agile SDLC successfully. 

Use Teamhood’s Sprint planning template to help initiate your Agile lifecycle product management. This is great for helping to outline for project goals and structure your Sprints. 

Teamhood’s Gantt chart tool helps give you full visibility of your Agile lifecycle and enables you to map out your project phases in an easy-to-use template.

scrum ceremonies

You can also accelerate your Agile project development lifecycle by automating your reporting. With Teamhood’s reporting too, you get real-time insights and charts that show you your progress at a glance – as well as being easy to share with internal or external stakeholders, as appropriate. 

Agile metrics 2

With the help of our workspace templates, you can quickly create a Scrum or Kanban board to track your tasks or pick an industry-specific template and track your process in an Agile board catered to your projects.

The Teamhood task board is visual and easy to modify with custom columns, rows, and secondary processes to track subtasks. Use automation to move tasks between boards and ensure you deliver the optimal end result to your clients. 

You can get started with a free trial, no credit card is required. 

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