(Don't forget to check out Part 1, "What's Important at the Beginning of a Sprint?")

What's Important in the Middle of a Sprint?

The bulk of each sprint involves the developers working like crazy to build and test the stories they committed to. The Agile software development model utilizes daily status checks for the developers to coordinate their efforts and resolve challenges and potential issues quickly.

In my experience, the change management work is most successful when it adopts a similar practice, both for the team and for the key stakeholders.

For the Change Management Team

I recommend status check meetings are scheduled at least twice a week to keep the updates short and everyone on the same page throughout the week. During heavy change activity, they can (and I recommend they do!) occur even daily.

Allow each team member to quickly summarize what they completed since the last session, and what they are planning to work on between now and the next session, so other team members are aware. They also should identify any impediments or risks, so the team lead can take quick action to resolve. If there is an “ah ha!” moment for a listening team member, a quick question is asked, but if it triggers a discussion, that should be taken offline, scheduled separately with those who need to attend. Otherwise these meetings will derail quickly.

If held to these guidelines, these meetings don’t have to be long –preferably 15 minutes tops. If they happen frequently enough, this is more than enough time because the team has a collective working knowledge, and tasks don’t have to be explained in detail.

For the stakeholders

For key stakeholder groups, have update meetings at least once a sprint (some of ours were even weekly) to keep them posted on progress, see where they have questions, and raise any concerns you need their help to address. Depending on how widely your stakeholder groups differ, these can be broken into meetings by stakeholder group, or altogether in one session –there’s great value in both approaches. The change management lead should be able to determine the best approach for your particular project.

Keep to similar principles as the team status meetings, keeping the meetings efficient and having a strategy in place for taking discussions offline that are necessary, but disruptive for that particular meeting’s purpose. The goal is to have a recurring meeting with each key group, so their working knowledge stays current with progress and potential challenges, and they are actively engaged in the journey to their future state.

By keeping all parties up to date on the developing product and evolving end state, stakeholders are engaged, building their body of knowledge, ownership, collaboration, and readiness for the coming change. By building up that momentum during the sprint development work, you will arrive at the Go Live date better prepared than if you wait until the product is complete. The success is in the journey.