Collaborative Leadership Team (a Certified Agile Consultancy in Minneapolis, MN shares our thoughts about the opportunities Sprint Reviews give us that go beyond a simple demonstration of work.
Sprint Reviews are a time for the Development Team and their Product Owner to show what they have accomplished during the Sprint to all interested stakeholders. This Scrum ceremony is an easy and effective mechanism for Agile teams to increase visibility into the product they are creating. Since the Sprint Review typically happens on the last day of the Sprint, the Development Team has the privilege of demonstrating the work they completed during the current Sprint and highlighting how that work fits into the overall product vision.
Anyone is welcome to attend Sprint Reviews. The more the merrier! This ceremony is an “inspect and adapt” mechanism for the Product Owner to get early feedback from stakeholders and provide them with transparency. This active demonstration of potentially shippable product increases trust in the Development Team’s ability to deliver high quality, working product, trust in the Product Owner for what they chose to focus on and an overall increase in morale as an organization.
In a Sprint Review there is no room for a PowerPoint slide showing how the product should work. Instead the Development Team does a live demonstration to show how the product actually works thus far. There can be angst about showing a live demo as sometimes things go wrong with environments, machines, or any number of things. That’s OK! Agile is about taking small risks, learning from those experiments, and making improvements along the way. If a team discovers repeated issues with environment stability while doing Sprint Reviews, this can be addressed in a Sprint Retrospective to address such an impediment.
While showing working software or product, Sprint Review participants can get excited and ask for additional features. That’s OK! Simply smile and reply with “Thank you for your feedback. We can add that to the Product Backlog and it will be ordered in relation to the other items in the backlog. Let’s talk about that after the demonstration.” Sprint Reviews need not be a cause for concern or fear of scope creep based on the empirical nature of the Scrum framework. We inspect, adapt and provide transparency. It’s not a license to keep piling on the plate. The plate is ordered in terms of what we will do first, what comes next and so on. If a better idea comes along and shoots to the top of the list, it’s OK if somethings drop to the bottom – or even off of the list entirely. This Scrum ceremony should be a time to celebrate the progress the team has made in the current Sprint and talk about what we can potentially do next.
Since showing iterative or incremental, working product is often a new way of doing work, it is important for the Product Owner to set appropriate expectations with those attending the Sprint Review. The ScrumMaster can assist by teaching those outside of the Scrum Team the intent of this ceremony and helping to neutrally facilitate any conversations that come up during the ceremony.
Sprint Reviews are great opportunities to not only increase visibility and transparency into product development but also to increase morale by demonstrating work done and accomplished goals.
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