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Tracking Meetings in Sprints

Last post 02:04 pm April 12, 2023 by Daniel Liljeberg
3 replies
03:32 pm April 10, 2023

I have a new team that tracks meetings as stories in active sprints. Is that okay? I am asking because I never did that with my previous teams, and I know that different teams work differently. The meetings are usually 1 or 2 pointers. As for the scrum ceremonies we do not track those as they are part of our work so there is no need. On this new team if there is a meeting outside of the scrum ceremonies that they all need to attend they will create a story and assign the same story to everyone applicable. Even ad hoc meetings external to the team in which they may be assisting another team are tracked. The beauty of this is that all the meetings are pre-planned in advance and discussed in sprint planning. Any other ad-hoc meeting that comes up unexpectedly in the middle of the sprint are rejected if not critical to the sprint goal. The rejected meetings go into the backlog and are addressed in refinement to determine the value of the meeting. Finally, we do not track meetings in which the scrum team may need to conduct to help each other individually (For example if John needed to meet with Jane for 10-15 mins to understand some code that is being worked on in the sprint).

04:25 pm April 10, 2023

Personally I do not see any benefit to this but I'm not part of that team.  It sounds like they are trying to use the Scrum Backlog as their calendar or time tracking system.  Those "meetings" seem to be outside of their control and do not seem related to the Sprint Goal so I am not sure why they would be in their Sprint Backlog.  Does the team create stories for lunch each day?  Because unless they are sitting at their desks eating alone, they are probably spending that time with other people and there could be more than one of the Developers together eating lunch. So according to their definition, it should be tracked.  

I know I'm being a bit silly but in my experience, teams that want to do this have usually had silly reasons for it.  The most predominant is that they don't want to attend meetings that are not productive so they decide to fight back by showing people "how much time they waste".  For example, 

Any other ad-hoc meeting that comes up unexpectedly in the middle of the sprint are rejected if not critical to the sprint goal. The rejected meetings go into the backlog and are addressed in refinement to determine the value of the meeting.

If the team was rejected, why add it to the Product Backlog?  (I'm assuming the Product Backlog because you say they are discussed in refinement). If the meeting was rejected, then it is not something needed to improve the product thus has no purpose being in the Product Backlog. Having them in the Sprint Backlog is unnecessary because if they were rejected then they are not needed in order to achieve the Sprint Goal and build a usable increment of value.

If I were in your position, I'd use the fact that I am new to the team and bring this up in Sprint Retrospective.  Have them explain how tracking these meetings have helped them in their mission to improve the Product that they support.  Get to the root of why they are doing this.  I might even ask them if they have to respond to emails that take time away from their development work and ask why they are not tracking that time. I still feel this is the team being petty about the fact that they do not want to attend meetings and trying to use Scrum as a way to "show them" whoever "them" might be.

But I am not part of this team and I do not know the full story, so my opinion is just that. My opinion.  

05:29 pm April 10, 2023

Why are meetings being planned as Product Backlog items? How can the Product Owner meaningfully order these "stories" in relation to other work?

If there is a meeting which the Developers wish to track and manage for some reason, wouldn't it just be part of their actionable plan, such as a task on the Sprint Backlog for example?

02:04 pm April 12, 2023

I have seen this a few times and often, not always, it is because people think the backlog is everyones personal "todo"-list. Now, could it be important for a team to track that a given meeting is held during a given sprint? I think it can. But I also think that many times this is something that could be tracked by the team on a sub-task level if they happen to be using any of the common softwares used to "help" teams like Jira.

My question to try an get at the root of it, when members want to put their meetings, trainings, seminars and other things in the backlog (not to forget them) is... do you want/would you be ok with the Product Owner prioritizing this lower than other things he/she believe will bring more "value" so that it might not make it not the sprint? 9 times out of 10 the answer is "no, I need to do this!". Then perhaps that is an indicator that it shouldn't be in the product backlog but instead fit better somewhere else.

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