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Which day is the good one to start the sprint? What is the good time for the daily scrum? And what about Scrum events; should retrospective happens right after the review?

Scrum guide doesn’t give any indication, leaving teams to adjust, but with experience, which day should we start the sprint?

The Sprint & ceremonies as a result

The more logical, would be to start the sprint on a Monday. It’s the start of tha week (is it?). Then it’s perfect, the week starts, everybody is motivated. In addition, we end the sprint on a Friday: which is also the end of a week. Easy.

Easy …?

Monday

According to Prof. Debie Moskowitz, behavior specialist, although the morning is not conducive, Monday afternoon is specifically efficient. It’s a good time for planning and objectives definition in general. Be careful, one would extend their weekend or holidays.

Tuesday

A study conducted in 2010 by researchers from the London School of Economics, describes Tuesday as a «traitor». It would be the most depressing day of work.
According to this study, on Monday our brain is still bathed in the euphoria of the weekend, while on Tuesday, we have entered the working mode and the next weekend is still far away.
Debbie Moskowitz also shows that Tuesday remains the most productive day of the week.

Wednesday & Thursday

Still according to Moskowitz, Wednesday and Thursday are quite effective days. Beware however, Wednesday is often the day of teleworking and children. Although a Scrum ceremony may be held at a distance, it is best to try to avoid it whenever possible.

Friday

We are already more or less in the weekend, some have a great weekend that starts on Thursday night, and even extends until Tuesday morning. And it is very difficult to keep a team focused on a Friday afternoon for a retro, after a review session. A good retrospective requires attention and commitment. Some may leave on a weekend in the evening and are therefore in a hurry to leave as soon as possible. Friday is not necessarily the best time for long, important meetings like Sprint review and retrospective. The schedule of the next Sprint may also be sloppy.

In conclusion: start the Sprint in the middle of the week

Some experiments (those of Rishi Devendra or Paulo Dias for example) show that starting a sprint in the middle of the week (Wednesday to finish on the following Tuesday for example) is a good strategy.

For my part, and based on the research described above for sprints of two weeks or less (ceremonies generally take longer for longer sprints):

Doing a review and a retro on Tuesday morning(with hot croissants) can be interesting. The team is alert and focused enough to make the most of these important ceremonies.
Monday is a good time to allow the team to prepare their demo serenely by deploying one last time; the Scrum Master has time to develop his retrospective and the Product Owner can also refine his next sprint with fresh and rested spirit.

Knowing that it is still Monday morning to finish, it can also prevent the development team from working on weekends (and therefore in shadow-velocity*).

This will start the sprint on Tuesday afternoon with Sprint Planning. An important ceremony that must be well done and therefore, must take the time it takes. A Sprint Planning is intense; the team leaves there energy and could lose efficiency in the afternoon if the schedule takes place in the morning.

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Anyway, talk to the team and stakeholders. Take into account the constraints of each and of the country with which you work. And do not hesitate to give it a try. Indeed, if the stakeholders do not work on Monday, the day of the demo, it has little interest and the next sprint will not be calibrated on their feedback and their needs.

Ditto for the time of the daily scrum. It must be suitable for everyone. If half of the team arrives 10 minutes late three times a week, then it should be discussed and moved at least half an hour later, to avoids the stress of being right on time, and allows you to sit comfortably a few minutes before to prepare the ceremony properly.

Edge cases

You will end up with sprints that will cannot start on this or that day, whatever your choice. In this case, do not shift your sprint. The sprint always starts on the set date, just after the previous one and always ends just before the start of the next one. This is important for the velocity and therefore the predictability of the system. In the event of a holiday, flu epidemic, or corporate trip, do not change the start date of the sprint, but move the ceremonies and adjust the team’s prediction to its ability, based on (less development days = less velocity, but it does not matter if it’s understandable).

* Shadow-velocity: term invented to describe the work done in the evening, at the weekend or during the holidays and therefore out of sprint and which will not be counted in the official velocity. A future article will be devoted to it.

Note: The Scrum Guide does not require a sprint to be 5, 10, 15 or 20 business days. A sprint can last 7 days, starting on Monday and ending on Tuesday the following week, but it is often easier to keep a regularity. Indeed, if the sprints always start the same day of the week, we do not have to ask questions. Otherwise, the second 7-day sprint will be from Wednesday to Thursday of the following week, and so on, and everyone may get confused.

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