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Understanding Agile Through Agendas

At XorFox, we partner with our clients to work as Agile teams. But not all of our clients have experience with Agile, and sometimes we’ll get the question: “When you say you’re Agile, what exactly do you mean?”

Well, the basic ideas behind the Agile Manifesto promote:

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Working software over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Responding to change over following a plan

Translating that into action looks...different for each client. As we prioritize individuals over processes, we weave elements of our clients’ cultures and preferences into how the project unfolds. Rather than strive for methodological purity, we focus on getting the job done well, and sometimes that means adopting a few "non-Agile" practices to help our clients stay on the same page.

But there is one commonality to all flavors of Agile we use: the meetings (or “ceremonies", in Agile-lingo) that take place throughout a project sprint. The agendas below spell out how we maintain progress on an Agile project. So if you’ve ever wondered what it means to “work Agile”, here’s what it looks like, in a series of meetings:

The sprint starts with a Planning Meeting, where the team sets the expectations for the upcoming sprint.
1. Set a preliminary sprint goal - what will we accomplish in this sprint?
2. Clarify team availability: who’s taking vacation, who’s got constraints on their capacity
3. What exactly can we deliver during this next sprint?

- Review pre-groomed backlog items and select items ready to be worked on

- Define acceptance criteria and complexity of the selected items

- Define how each selected item will be designed, implemented and tested

4. Restate the sprint goal. Time to get to work!

The Daily Standup is a timeboxed (15 minutes or less) status update during which team members discuss progress, current commitments, and problems.
Each team member answers the following 3 questions:
1. What did you do yesterday?
2. What will you do today?
3. Are there any impediments in your way?

At the end of the sprint, the team meets for a Sprint Review to collect feedback on what was accomplished during the sprint.
1. Overview of work completed
2. Demonstration of new functionality, collection of feedback
3. Review of undemonstrable things that were completed (bug fixes, etc)
4. Discussion of major events or problems that occurred during the sprint
5. Mention of any changes in the market that affect product value (new technologies, competition)
6. Discussion of how to use any feedback received during this meeting

Got questions about how to blend Agile into your company culture? Contact the computer scientists at XorFox for a free consultation!

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