How to run a successful Sprint Review

22 Feb 2018

Sprint review demo

Is Sprint Review another word for demo? Is it just a presentation of what was done during the Sprint? Is it a chance for you to get praise for your hard work?

If your answer to any of these questions was yes - you are unfortunately wrong. But don’t worry, you are not alone!

Scrum Review is one of the most frequently misunderstood Events in Scrum

So, let’s take a step back to see what Sprint Review really is before we share some tips and tricks that will help you run a successful Sprint Review.

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What is a Sprint Review?

Sprint Review is a Scrum Event held at the end of a Sprint. It is used to inspect the Increment and adapt the Product Backlog if it is necessary. During the Sprint Review, the team and stakeholders collaborate what was done during the Sprint and what can be done next to optimize value.

As you can already see, Sprint Review is not “show and tell” as some people might suggest. It is not a presentation, where the team just presents what was done and everyone applauds.

The goal of this meeting is to foster collaboration and elicit feedback and the result of it is a revised Product Backlog that defines the probable Product Backlog items for the next Sprint. It may be adjusted to meet new opportunities as well.

Now that we covered the basics, we can move on to tips that will ensure you run a successful Sprint Review!

1. Make the meeting informal

People often disregard the fact that the Sprint Review is an informal meeting. It shouldn't be a PowerPoint presentation worked on for hours before the actual meeting. It shouldn't be a piece of performance art rehearsed in advance. It should be a natural result of the Sprint. 

Make sure that there are no long speeches or lectures that could go on endlessly. Sprint Review is all about collaboration and the atmosphere should reflect that. If the people feel comfortable enough, they will share their ideas and give feedback which directly leads to a successful Sprint Review. 

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2. Include the right people to get the right feedback

If every Sprint Review ends with a round of applause and with no questions or comments - you are doing it wrong. Collecting feedback is crucial to make the right product decisions. 

Whenever the key people (key stakeholders) are missing your review, it is likely that you won’t receive the feedback you need. And if you don’t get the feedback you need, it will lead to making poor decisions and creating a product that doesn’t fulfil its purpose.  

You'll want to encourage the following people to participate in your Sprint Reviews:

  • People whose suggestions will help move the product forward
  • People who have an interest in your product
  • People you need to develop the product

If you can include people from different units of your company - that’s even better. Depending on your company size, try to include people from sales, marketing or any other unit. The main goal is to try to get quality feedback that you can use to improve in the following Sprints, so include everyone whose feedback is valuable to you.

 

Sprint review team

3. Master the art of feedback

Now that you’ve invited the right people, it’s time to deal with mastering the art of feedback.

As we already mentioned, there is no point in eliciting feedback that makes you feel good but offers no new insights. Try to use open-ended questions, so if someone says they like your new feature, ask them why they like it or if there is anything that can be improved. This way, you will gain actionable insights you can use to reach the right decisions. 

Another important aspect of mastering the art of feedback is making sure that everyone’s opinion is heard. Treat all feedback as welcome feedback. Yes, sometimes you will disagree with certain opinions and it might be hard for you to accept feedback, but only in this way will you be able to make the right decisions that will help you create the best possible product.

4. Note all suggestions, but don’t make hasty decisions

When you create an atmosphere that welcomes feedback, be prepared to deal with it accordingly. Make sure that you write down all suggestions, even if you decide to formulate them somewhat differently. Focus on formulating these suggestions as a request for a functionality or a request to solve a problem, rather than a “how to do it” command. 

You should also be careful about making Product Backlog decisions. If the feedback leads to significant changes in the Product Backlog, don’t implement everything straight away - you will benefit more from analyzing the received feedback and deciding which changes are necessary. Write everything down and analyze it in order to adapt the Product Backlog.

5. Timeboxing is crucial

This is often the hardest part of this meeting - making sure that everyone sticks to the agreed timebox. Sprint Review can be at most a four-hour meeting if the Sprint lasted for a month, so if your Sprint lasted for two weeks, your Sprint Review should last two hours tops.

When you use timeboxing, this results in the natural tendency to focus on the important aspects first. You won’t waste time and you will get the maximum value out of every Sprint Review. 

Also, just because the timebox for a two-week sprint is supposed to last two hours, don’t feel obligated to extend it artificially if everything is covered sooner. Your main focus should be on having a successful Sprint Review that will help you improve, so tune your approach to fit your needs and your team’s needs.

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Even when you start using these tips, always keep in mind the three pillars of Scrum: transparency, inspection and adaptation. If something is not working for you, don’t keep doing it. Inspect and adapt. Only in this way will you be able to improve and reap the benefits of a Sprint Review.

 

What are you tips for running a successful Sprint Review? Do you have any secret tricks? Tweet your views and mention VivifyScrum (@VivifyScrum) so we can check out your tips and tricks!