Sprint reviews are a critical component of the Scrum project management process and an integral part of the Scrum framework. As an essential Scrum ceremony, they close the loop and give development teams insights to inform future sprint planning meetings.
But what does an effective and efficient sprint review look like?
Here are the steps and tips to help you get the most out of your sprint reviews.
What Is a Sprint Review, and Why Is It Important?
A sprint review is a Scrum event that happens at the end of the sprint before the sprint retrospective meeting. During this working session, the team evaluates the latest features to see if additional work is needed to complete a user story.
A sprint review gives an agile team visibility and control over the software development workflows. You can better manage risks and impediments while letting everyone involved in the project to collaborate and decide on the best way forward.
By showing the new features to product owners (PO) and stakeholders, you can maximize responsiveness to customer demands. The review process facilitates team building and adds an extra layer of quality assurance to the development process. It also reinforces the iterative and value-driven approach of the agile methodology.
How To Run a Sprint Review
The PO initiates the sprint review meeting and invites the Scrum Master, Scrum team, and key stakeholders to the session. During the review, everyone openly discusses the work done and challenges encountered during the sprint. The Scrum Master helps participants adhere to the Scrum philosophy and the concept of iterative development.
The review starts with a demo of the incremental working product and the development team addressing questions about the Increment. The PO marks the user stories that the team has accomplished as “done,” and returns the items that aren’t completed to the product backlog.
Next, developers discuss what went well and the problems they faced during the sprint, and how they can solve these challenges.
The PO and stakeholders provide feedback on the product, and the Scrum Master converts the input into new user stories in the sprint backlog. This step ensures that the team can develop valuable features that meet users’ needs.
Lastly, all attendees collaborate on defining the next step, evaluating how market demands may have changed, and identifying the most strategic and valuable backlog items to address. They also review the timeline, budget, and resource requirements for the upcoming releases.
Tips For Conducting Successful Sprint Reviews
A successful sprint review is more than a product demo. The process involves inspecting the product Increment and adapting the product backlog.
Here are some best practices to help you cover all the bases:
Set an Agenda
Structure your sprint review to encourage dialogue among the PO, team members, and stakeholders as they present the value delivered and plan the next sprints. Create an agenda to ensure that everyone understands the purpose of the sprint review.
Start the meeting by setting expectations and reviewing the goal of the sprint. Then, the development team presents the product and reviews the values delivered. Stakeholders provide feedback on the product, and the PO shares the plan for the next step. Timebox the informal meeting to a maximum of four hours for a one-month sprint.
Everyone attending a sprint review should understand their roles and responsibilities. It starts with the PO, who must invite the right stakeholder to the meeting, provide context, set expectations, and handle the logistics. Meanwhile, the stakeholders must understand the sprint goal and be prepared to participate in the discussion.
The Scrum Master should partner with the PO to ensure that the objectives of the sprint review are met and coach the development team to deliver an impactful demonstration of a potentially shippable product Increment. The software team should engage in the discussion and be prepared to demonstrate the business value of the product features.
Establish a Theme
Facilitating cross-team collaboration can be challenging if you have a few development teams working on the product backlog items. It’s important to align different team members with a shared vision to avoid fractured results.
Identify a theme—a string of backlog items that creates a logical storyline—to help everyone get on the same page during the sprint and at the sprint review. It helps everyone stay focused on the business value they need to redeliver.
Create a Narrative
Your sprint review doesn’t have to be a snoozefest! POs should do more than communicate information. Instead, share the excitement associated with the new product features through immersive storytelling. The goal is to have everyone walk away with a sense of accomplishment and communal involvement.
Leverage the theme you have identified as the framework for your narrative. Fill in the details with what happened during the sprint and connect the backlog items into a cohesive storyline that aligns with the project’s overall mission. The narrative should support the delivery of features cohesive with the product roadmap.
Be Open to Feedback
It can be intimidating to involve stakeholders and end-users early in the development process. But getting their feedback can help you make the necessary adjustments to meet expectations. Create an open environment to help everyone feel comfortable discussing feedback. Also, coach your team to help them understand the purpose of involving stakeholders.
After you have set the stage, sit back and listen. Learn about the stakeholders’ or end-user needs to reduce the overproduction of features that won’t get used and focus resources on functionalities that’d deliver the most business values.
Use the Right Tools
As remote working and distributed teams become more common, you should leverage the right tools to support effective communication and collaboration during sprint reviews. Be mindful of time zone differences when you schedule synchronous meetings and create more opportunities for asynchronous discussions.
When you run virtual sprint reviews, use visuals, graphics, and screen sharing to guide the discussion. Create a team board to facilitate collaboration and make the process interactive. You can also have the development team record the demo ahead of time to avoid technical issues that could dampen the momentum of the discussion.
Leverage Sprint Review To Build a Better Software Team
A successful Scrum sprint review can help everyone learn from experience and improve upcoming sprints. It allows the development team to discuss what worked well and what didn’t to make improvements, such as how they can create accurate estimates and commit to realistic delivery dates in the future.
Having real-time access to accurate and granular data about the sprint status helps teams reflect on their performance. For example, they can evaluate the time spent on each work item against the original projection to inform future estimates.
A time tracking software can help you collect the data you need to inform sprint reviews. But not all time recording applications are created equal. Many don’t offer the ability to track time at the work item level. Meanwhile, if team members make entries days or even weeks after performing a task, the accuracy of the data can be compromised.
7pace Timetracker is a time reporting software developed for developers by developers. You can track time directly on the platform where you work (e.g., Azure DevOps and Github) and accurately associate time spent with each work item.
The insights help teams understand how much time and effort are involved in each user story and how much time they need to complete one story point—a metric we call “pace.” You can then use the “pace” to create estimates for future tasks based on the story points assigned to each work item.
Sign up for 7pace to collect high-quality data that’ll help you get the most out of your sprint reviews and sprint planning.