What is a Scrum Meeting and How to Run One: A Guide for PMs

Undoubtedly one of the most popular project management frameworks, Scrum is used far and wide for product development. While Scrum is straightforward, the first step is understanding its main characteristics. So, what is a Scrum meeting exactly?

We know what you’re thinking: All projects involve meetings! Why is this one so special? And you’d be right, normally. However, within Scrum, meetings are even more crucial than in other product management methodologies. 

What purpose does this kind of meeting serve? And how do Scrum meetings differ from other types of meetings? In this article, we’ll answer all this and more, covering:

  1. What is a Scrum meeting?
  2. Do product managers run Scrum meetings?
  3. Who attends a Scrum meeting?
  4. Types of Scrum meeting
  5. Scrum meeting benefits
  6. How to run a Scrum meeting
  7. Wrap-up

Ready to get the lowdown on this vital aspect of Scrum? Then read on.

1. What is a Scrum meeting?

A Scrum meeting is any short meeting that occurs during a Scrum project or sprint (sprints being short, time-boxed bursts of activity that comprise a larger project).

While there are several types of Scrum meetings (check out section 3 for details), all of them are designed to improve communication, identify problems and encourage fast-track decision-making. They are generally regular and short, keeping team members focused on their responsibilities.

Why is it called a Scrum meeting?

The term “scrum” comes from the rugby scrum, where players huddle together to gain possession of the ball.

Just as in the sport, a scrum meeting involves teams huddling together to ensure everyone is on the same page with a project. Simple. No fancy acronyms here, thank you!

2. Do product managers run Scrum meetings?

As a rule, it is not the product manager but the Scrum Master who to ensures meetings take place and run smoothly.

While product managers may be involved in Scrum meetings, their presence isn’t always required. Just like other team members, product managers may need to attend Scrum meetings to provide updates on their work.

But since, during a sprint, each team member should already be aware of their role and responsibilities, the presence of the product manager isn’t always necessary.

While they obviously need oversight of how a project is progressing and will also need to provide input, their time is sometimes better spent elsewhere.

3. Who attends a Scrum meeting?

We’ve established that product managers might be involved in Scrum meetings, but who else attends? Depending on the type of meeting, attendees could include:

  • The Scrum Master attends all meetings. They ensure that Scrum meetings kick off at the assigned time and that they meet their objectives.
  • The development team also attends all Scrum meetings. They typically present the work they have completed during the sprint and/or the upcoming work they have planned.
  • The product manager can also attend. They may need to provide updates on the product backlog (a list of all the work that needs completing) or broader changes to the product development plan.
  • Stakeholders interested in the project but not directly involved in its day-to-day execution might also attend. This includes the client, for example.

In general, anyone interested in the project can attend a Scrum meeting, but usually, only the development team and Scrum Master are required to be there.

4. Types of Scrum meeting

You might come across the terms “ceremonies” or “events” to describe Scrum meetings. While this is common Scrum terminology,  in this post, we’ll stick to the term “meetings”, to keep things consistent. 

Whether you choose to call them meetings, ceremonies, or events, there are four types.

These are:

The sprint planning meeting

Sprint planning takes place at the start of each sprint (with each project comprising several sprints).

This is where the team gets together to plan the work for the upcoming sprint. Sprint planning meetings have two parts. The first part involves the product manager and development team discussing which features should be completed during the sprint.

During the second half, the development team breaks down each feature into achievable daily tasks and then assigns these.

The daily stand-up

The daily stand-up is the most regular Scrum meeting.

It is a short, time-boxed meeting (usually 15 minutes) that takes place every morning throughout the sprint. It provides an opportunity for the development team to coordinate their work and identify any problems.

During the daily stand-up, each team member will answer three questions:

  • What did you do yesterday?
  • What will you do today?
  • Are there any impediments to your progress?

This straightforward approach ensures everyone has an opportunity to speak, that everyone has oversight of everyone else’s work and that problems are quickly resolved.

The sprint review

At the end of each sprint, a sprint review takes place. The development team reviews the work they’ve completed and the product manager inspects and updates the product backlog (the list of upcoming development tasks).

The review meeting is also an opportunity to evaluate other stakeholders’ feedback on the project’s progress. Learn more about them in our full guide to sprint reviews.

The sprint retrospective

Sprint retrospectives also take place at the end of each sprint. These provide an opportunity for development teams to reflect on the sprint and identify areas for improvement.

For clarity, while the sprint review focuses on the product itself, the retrospective specifically targets the team’s development process.

Learn even more about these in our complete PM’s guide to sprint retrospectives.

5. Scrum meeting benefits

Besides the obvious Scrum meeting benefits outlined in the previous section, they are generally more effective than “standard” meetings because they’re:

  • Regular: Everyone is aware of when meetings take place. Attendees learn what everyone else is doing. Problems are quickly resolved and work is properly coordinated.
  • Short: Time-boxing the meetings means they don’t drag on. This keeps everyone focused. It also encourages team members to practice concision and good communication.
  • Informal: Informal settings encourage creativity and collaboration. This can have a positive impact on morale.

6. How to run a Scrum meeting

Whether you’re the Scrum Master or product manager, if you find yourself in charge of a Scrum meeting, adhering to the principles of Scrum is vital.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when running scrum meetings:

  • Start and end on time: Adhering to the time-boxed nature of Scrum meetings is crucial. Not only does it keep everyone focused, but it ensures that team members respect each other’s time. No one wants a long, drawn-out meeting.
  • Keep it informal: Remember, the informality of Scrum meetings is one of their defining characteristics. This encourages creativity and collaboration.
  • Be prepared: Have an agenda and stick to it. This ensures meetings run smoothly and efficiently. If you’re the product manager, ensure the product backlog is in good shape before you arrive.
  • Encourage participation: This is a team effort. Everyone should feel comfortable contributing. If someone is quiet, gently encourage their input, even if it’s just an update of their latest work.
  • Follow up: After the meeting, follow up with any action items that were assigned. This will ensure that tasks are completed on time.

Beyond that, Scrum meetings really aren’t too complex!

7. Wrap-up

There you have it, a complete introduction to Scrum meetings. Now you know what is a scrum meeting, how and if a product manager should get involved with them, and how they’re useful.

As a key part of the Scrum methodology, well-run Scrum meetings can greatly improve the efficiency of the product development process. Follow these tips and advice and you’ll soon be managing meetings like a pro!

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