Defining the What, How, When, and Why of a Scrum Schedule

Having a defined Scrum schedule is essential for the success of any Scrum squad.  At the start of a Scrum squad’s formation, the team goes through phases of forming, storming, norming, and performing.  A set schedule is all about clarifying expectations and ensuring team buy in.  The Scrum schedule plays into that in a big way.  Sprints within Scrum have a defined start and a defined end.  With a Scrum schedule, you can manage the plan to draw out the most value possible. The Ultimate Guide to the Sprint Backlog. 

 

What is the Ideal Scrum Schedule?

The ideal Scrum schedule is one that accommodates for many variables.  The variables allow the teams to be faithful to the cadence.  Scrum revolves around the Sprint’s cadence, and making sure that the cadence is constant is most important.  You want to avoid changes to the Sprint cadence due to unaccounted for conflicts.  Rescheduling a Scrum event is never ideal.

 Scrum Schedule

Keeping the cadence constant allows the Scrum team to remain within the defined process and focus more on value-based delivery.  People get into the routine, know what they have to do to prepare for meetings, etc.  Once the process is consistent, they can lean on that and focus on delivery.  Consistency is key. A Scrum Coach may be necessary to help the teams stay on schedule. 

 

Pay Attention to Day, Time, Format, and Length

Consistency is not just about the length of time for the Sprint; it is for all of the Scrum Events.  The events including Sprint Planning, Retrospective, etc. need to happen at the same time during every Sprint.  The same time means that it has to be on the same day, at the same hour, and with the same time box associated with it.

Having the consistency allows the whole Scrum team to relax.  Team members do not have to worry about the minor details of the meeting such as the format, the location, etc.  The focus can be entirely on the delivery at the Sprint level. 

 

When Does the Scrum Schedule Get Set?

You want the Scrum schedule set up early.  The Scrum Master has to work with leadership and account for team make-up.  Are there team members in different time zones?  Does the team have to deal with any big holidays that are coming up?  Does the team want sacred hours? Figure out all of these variables ahead of time and then set the Scrum schedule that will be in agreement with the goals you have to meet.

You also have to think about users, stakeholders, and all of your customers.  You have to have Sprint Reviews, opportunities for customers to inspect and adapt the product.  Think about your customers so that you are scheduling time on the calendar where they will be able to plan for it ahead of time and be ready to attend.

The schedule may also get set in reverse.  Say your Sprint will end on a Wednesday every two weeks.  You will set up your Sprint Review for Wednesdays and then work backward to set up the schedule to figure out when all of the other Scrum Events need to take place. 

Teams Get Heads Down Time Scheduled Too

The Scrum schedule is not just about setting meetings.  You also have to think about situations where the team does have to be head down, cranking out working software that meets Acceptance Criteria.

Quiet Time can be scheduled so that the team members know they have specific times where they will not be bothered.  Quiet Time is when they will get no calls, no meetings, and can focus entirely on value-add work.

Define the Scrum Schedule early and get the benefits from its establishment.  The Product Owner, the Scrum Master, stakeholders, as well as, the Scrum squad overall can come together to include in the discussions to establish the cadence.  Keep it constant and enjoy a Scrum squad that is focused solely on the delivery of working software.