Improve Effectiveness of Agile Development Cycle


  Improve Effectiveness of Agile Development Cycle

 Puneet Mathur PMP

Objective: Agile Development cycles consist of time-boxed events which mark the completion of a phase. Some of the events are repetitive due to iterative nature of agile while others are carried out once during the cycle. The objective of this article is to look at these time-boxed events in detail and to ascertain the expected behavior from each of these. After reading this article you would be able to ascertain:

  1. What are the time-boxed events in Agile Scrum?
  2. How do you know these events are effective and as per the expected behavior in your Agile scrum implementation?
  3. Provide basis to build an improvement plan for your scrum team

In a typical agile scrum implementation there are 4 primary time-boxed events. They are Strategy Planning, Release Planning, Iteration/Sprint Planning and Daily Standups. Let us look at all the time-box events in detail in order to understand them. The table 1 below outlines some of the characteristics.

Strategy Planning/ Review

Release Planning / Replan

Iteration/Sprint Planning

Iteration/Sprint Review

Iteration/Sprint Retrospective

Daily Standups


Program vision and strategy is articulated. Elevator pitch method may be used

Themes, Epics and functional priorities and delivery dates are defined. Initial Release backlog

Product owner, Team members plan and agree on backlog items during iteration and identify stories/tasks and done criteria for them

Team with product owner reviews if done criteria of work completed have been met. Completed functionality is demonstrated to stakeholders

Inspect and adapt is the theme for this meeting. Collectively team evaluates their processes and practices and take action on key issues that are blocking team’s progress

Team to know the status of work being done by its members and to bring out the impediments/blocking issues


Once a year with incremental updates on regular cycles

1st day of each release or replan day

1st Day of each iteration

Last day of each iteration

Last day of each iteration

Each day same place same time


4-16 hours

4-8 hours

2-4 hours

1-2 hours

1-2 hours

Measure Effectiveness

Daily Standup Effectiveness

 Table 1 Time-boxed events Description and Assessment

As we can see in Table 1 all the time-boxed events are described on parameters of Objective, Frequency, Length and Measuring effectiveness. I recommend you take the Measure Effectiveness assessment tests above, before proceeding further at least for Daily Standups, Iteration Planning and Release Planning. The assessment tests will help you understand the expected behavior and will give you an insight into improvement areas.

Common improvement areas are highlighted in the table 2 below:

Release Planning / Replan

Iteration/Sprint Planning

Iteration/Sprint Review

Iteration/Sprint Retrospective

Daily Standups

Not held at start of release or at time of replan

Not held at start of iteration

Product demo does not happen Test team accepts story

All team members are not present

Irregular frequency

Duration too long > 8 hours broken into multiple session spanning over days

Too much of technical discussions

Product owner is not part of the meeting

Team does not clearly demarcate the impediments to things such as low velocity etc.

Duration more than 15 minutes

Release backlog is not clear at end of meeting

Sprint backlog is not clear by end of meeting

Product owner decision on story Done criteria is not taken

Action items for improvement in next sprints is not clear with no assigned owners

Detailed Lengthy technical discussions

Interference by Chickens on sprint commitment by team

Run by Chickens

Run by Chickens

                        Table 2 Common Improvement areas for agile scrum implementation

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Source by Puneet Mathur