Skip to main content

Reimagine software project management with Zenhub AIGet Early Access →

scrum events
Agile & Product Management

Scrum events: are they all necessary? 3 experts weigh-in

If you’ve been knee-deep in Scrum, you may have found yourself occasionally tempted to cross over to the dark side and cut out or cut down on some Scrum events. “Sacrilege!” some ScrumMasters may say, brandishing a pitchfork, but still…

It’s totally normal for Scrum teams to ask, “Are there too many events?” Or “Are they all necessary for my team?” For many, the existence of these events can seem rigid and unaccommodating to the unique challenges teams face.  

Despite these critiques, Scrum has a lot of flexibility, and teams can and often do adjust these events to suit their needs better. To guide you through these adjustments, we asked 3 experts for their opinions regarding removing and reducing Scrum events. 

Can a Scrum event be eliminated? If so, which ones?

If removing a Scrum event is anything like Jenga, you’re probably wondering which event you can remove without letting everything come crashing down. Here’s what the experts suggested:

Mike’s take: replacing sprint reviews with feature reviews

Mike Cohn, founder of Mountain Goat Software, believes the sprint review is the best event to alter or eliminate: “I think a team can forgo formal sprint (iteration) review meetings as long as each item is reviewed somehow. Most commonly, this would be through one-at-a-time feature reviews.” 

The benefit of conducting one-at-a-time reviews is that each review is much shorter and includes only the specific stakeholders who need to review the feature prior to its release.

Klaus’ choice: eliminating daily standups (the daily Scrum)

Klaus Boedker, Owner & CEO at Happier at Work, says  that when it comes to removing a single event, he would “go for the daily standup.” Fair enough, it’s the one event that happens daily: “With a combination of chat and agile task management tools, teams can communicate, coordinate, and collaborate in real-time. When these tools are used consistently and in a disciplined manner, the necessity for a daily formal event discussing work progress subsides.” 

Of course, the common argument against this is that the Agile Manifesto tells us to value “people and interactions over tools and processes.” Do we take it with a grain of salt? “The daily Scrum originated in an era when team members communicated less frequently than they do today,” says Mike. This may mean we can reduce the number of face-to-face meetings: “With Slack and other chat tools, team members are in frequent touch with one another. This makes daily standups (daily Scrums) less vital than in the past.” 

Daria’s preference: maintaining all events

Maintaining all events is critical for Daria Bagina, founder of ScrumMastered.com. “If we talk about Scrum Events specifically, there is no single event that doesn’t serve a purpose. So if I am forced to choose one, I prefer to shorten the ones we have to keep every event in the calendar,” says Daria.

This position is often seen as too dogmatic and ‘by-the-book’. However, the Scrum Guide makes it clear that “Changing the core design or ideas of Scrum, leaving out elements, or not following the rules of Scrum, covers up problems and limits the benefits of Scrum, potentially even rendering it useless.” Instead of leaving out core elements, like Scrum Events, change how you facilitate them and what tools and practices you use.

What are the most essential Scrum events?

So, we’ve agreed that some Scrum events could be subject to some changes, but which ones are top agile experts saying are crucial to keep as is?

Mike’s non-negotiable: sprint planning

For Mike, sprint planning takes the top pick as the most helpful event: “I’m very open to it being very quick and lightweight, but a team should take at least a few minutes at the start of each iteration to agree on what they’ll accomplish,” he says. 

Mike makes a great point about how sprint planning ensures you get started on the right foot. After all, you can reduce time spent in almost every other event if you do sprint planning effectively!

Daria’s stance: the irreplaceable retrospective

Interestingly enough, the event Daria finds most valuable is also the event that all of our experts agreed was one of the most commonly skipped: the retrospective. So, why is she such a big fan of the retro? “When the team gets too focused on getting the work done, they don’t realize that the more they avoid discussing what could be improved, the harder it gets to get the work done,” she says. 

People must remember that Scrum is about building great teams that improve over time. But, when teams don’t stop to think about what needs improvement, they lose out on efficiency: “It’s like pushing a cart with square wheels. If you stop for a few minutes to see that your wheels are square and change the wheels to round ones, you’ll go 10 times faster.”

Klaus’ critical event: retrospectives and sprint reviews

“For me, it’s a tough call between the sprint retrospective and sprint demonstration,” he says. “Both play a crucial role in offering timely feedback on what we built and how effectively we collaborated to build it. Without this feedback, we raise the risk of not meeting our customers’ needs and unnecessarily prolonging the development process by working inefficiently.

Looking back at a sprint is more than just reveling in a job well done–it’s all about refining the team’s processes and understanding customers deeper with each sprint.  

Conclusion

The agile journey is one of continuous improvement and adaptation. It’s through this lens that we should evaluate the necessity, frequency, and content of our Scrum events. Yes, Scrum events can be remixed and tweaked to better suit your team’s needs–but ensuring customer needs are met and the team is continuously improving is paramount (this is why you’re doing Scrum in the first place!).

If you take one thing away from this article, it is that each and every event is there for a reason. Be sure you and your team understand the purpose of events before making any changes to them. Ultimately, a well-informed team can judiciously tailor its processes to foster growth, increase productivity, and exceed customer expectations.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Looking for a tool that can boost the efficiency of Agile events? Book a demo of Zenhub. 

New
Work smarter, not harder. With Zenhub AI

Simplified agile processes. Faster task management. All powered by AI.

Get Early Access

Loved by developers. Trusted by managers.

Return to top