Scrum ceremonies - An overview

Scrum ceremonies

What are scrum ceremonies?

Scrum ceremonies are known as Scrum events, Scrum meetings, or Agile ceremonies. They are the key component of the Scrum process.

The scrum method emphasises a focus on faster, results-first management that’s designed to change with altering circumstances. The scrum has:

  • A cross functional team of experts whose capabilities complement one another
  • A specific target
  • Short timeframes, sprints, (usually two weeks to a month) within which chunks of the targeted outcome is marked out and executed
  • Flexible management and oversight that refreshes the execution strategy at any step of the way to suit contingencies.

There are four Scrum ceremonies:                                       

  1. Sprint planning                                           
  2. Daily stand up
  3. Sprint review
  4. Sprint retrospective
  5. Backlog Refinement

Each Scrum ceremony is designed to facilitate communication and planning while maintaining the team’s focus on productivity and efficiency. In this post, we’ll look at these ceremonies and how they keep your development team locked in and on track.

the sprint cycle

1. Sprint Planning

Purpose: To define a realistic Sprint goal and backlog containing all items that could be fully implemented until the end of the Sprint by the Scrum team. The sprint planning meeting results in two Scrum Artifacts, the Sprint goal and Sprint backlog.

How it is conducted:

  • The Product Owner defines the Sprint Goal - a short description of what the sprint will attempt to achieve, clarifies the details on backlog items and their respective acceptance criteria.
  • The stories are estimated, prioritized and tasked.
  • Tasks are assigned amongst the team members based on their experience levels and expertise.
  • The team is ready to start with the daily sprints.

Useful Tips:

  • Timebox the meeting. Stop when you reach time.
  • The Product Owner should have the Product Backlog prioritized and ready before the meeting. Only review stories that are ‘ready,' i.e. meets the Definition of Ready (DoR).
  • Review and agree on the acceptance criteria that says when a given work is considered ‘done,' i.e. meets the Definition of Done (DoD).
  • Plan for collaboration of team members and NOT for optimal ‘resource utilization.'

2. Daily Stand up

Purpose: To provide a platform for a Scrum team to get together and review progress toward their Sprint goal and assess any risks to their Sprint commitment.

How it is conducted:

  • During the daily scrum, each team member answers the following three questions
  • What did the team do yesterday?
  • What will the team do today?
  • Are there any impediments in the way?

Useful Tips:

  • The daily stand-up should be time-boxed
  • Should be held at the same place or location and time every day
  • Each member of the team should participate, and own/share responsibility of the full sprint backlog
  • The Scrum Master facilitates regular daily meeting times.

3. Sprint Review

Purpose: To provide the platform for the Scrum Team to showcase what they accomplished during the sprint while creating the opportunity to stakeholders to inspect and adapt the product as it emerges, and iteratively refine everyone’s understanding of the requirements.

How it is conducted:

  • The Scrum Master makes administrative arrangements for the review -- reserving the conference rooms, arranging for refreshments, getting additional presentation aids (projectors, whiteboards, flip charts, etc.).
  • The Product Owner provides a demonstration of features completed and reviews the commitments made at the Sprint Planning Meeting, and declares which items are accepted and considered done.
  • Product Owner answers questions and gathers feedback from Stakeholders.
  • The Scrum Master helps the Product Owner and stakeholders convert their feedback to new Product Backlog Items for prioritization by the Product Owner.

Useful Tips:

  • Timebox to one hour per week of Sprint length.
  • Focus on acceptance criteria that has met the Definition of Done (DoD).
  • Prepare and practice before the meeting.
  • Center the demo around a realistic user experience and business value (not just proving functionality).

4. Sprint Retrospective

Purpose: A meeting where the team discusses the just-concluded sprint and determines any changes to improve the next sprint. Looks at the “how” or team delivery process.

How it is conducted:

  • What went well during the sprint cycle?
  • What went wrong during the sprint cycle?
  • What could we do differently to improve?
  • Example Topics include: Milestones, dependencies, motivations, misunderstandings, processes, etc.

 Useful Tips:

  • Gather information/data based on facts.
  • Generate relevant insights - conversations over accusations. Open, honest and constructive.
  • Prioritize and decide on actionable commitments, assigned to a team member with a timeline.
  • Revisit issues and check-in on status in the future.

5. Backlog Refinement

Backlog refinement (formerly known as backlog grooming) is when the product owner and some, or all, of the rest of the team review items on the backlog to ensure the backlog contains the appropriate items, that they are prioritized, and that the items at the top of the backlog are ready for delivery.


Scrum artifacts and ceremonies are immutable and they create a cadence in which the team is able to maximize productivity, maintain transparency,  promote collaboration, and inspect and adapt to the way they go.