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July 01, 2022

Sprint review in Scrum – 7 must-use tips

Project Management
Jerzy Żurawiecki Content Specialist @BigPicture

Scrum teams use a variety of solutions to keep track of their work in tune with the tenets of the framework. Scrum Events help teams exchange information, plan both current and upcoming work, and stay aligned with the Product Goal. One of these events is the bridge between the present and future iterations – the Sprint Review.

Read the article to find out the main aspects of this meeting and get helpful Sprint Review tips on how to conduct it more effectively.

Sprint Review in a nutshell

Simply put, the Sprint Review is a meeting where the team demonstrates the work done in each Sprint to the stakeholders. It’s the penultimate Scrum Event of each Sprint. The goal of the Sprint Review is to show the stakeholders the progress of the iteration, get feedback, answer any questions, and adjust the backlog for the next Sprint based on the results of the current session.

Aside from verifying the completed work, one of the benefits of the Sprint Review is being in touch with the customers by seeing their reactions to the completed increments and getting valuable feedback regularly. After all, delivering value to the customer is key to Agile frameworks like Scrum. That’s why the presence of the stakeholders is so important in the Sprint Review.

The team members present their completed Product Backlog Items and provide additional context. The Sprint Review is also an opportunity to mention any issues that occurred during the Sprint and point out what items were not completed. However, it’s not a confession session. The team members shouldn’t have to explain themselves excessively when an item isn’t delivered. Here is a breakdown of what usually happens during the Sprint Review:

Sprint Review in Scrum – the breakdown of the process

The duration of the Sprint Review depends on how long the Sprint lasts. A rule of thumb is one hour per week of Sprint duration. However, the discussion’s quality and thoroughness are more important than obsessive timekeeping.

Now that you know what the Sprint Review is, let’s look at a few tips that will help you get the most out of these events.

Sprint Review tips

7 Effective Sprint Review Tips

1. Present the complete items live instead of using a slideshow.

Let’s say the development team wants to show a set of functionalities to the stakeholders. Which approach is better: presenting it on live software or using a slideshow? The former gives the participants a better understanding of what the features look like and what they do. Furthermore, a live presentation provides a more interactive experience than a static Powerpoint counterpart.

Side tip: Create a video backup of your demonstration. Bugs and issues happen all the time, especially in software development, so it’s good to have a plan B in case your demo instance encounters an unexpected error. It’s not the most engaging solution, but it beats slides every time, and it never hurts to have an alternative.

2. Don’t confuse the Sprint Review with a Demo.

There is a crucial difference between the two, and it’s very easy to distinguish them. A demo is simply a presentation, but a review combines a presentation with questions and feedback.

That last part is indispensable in a Sprint Review. Without the stakeholders sharing their thoughts, the team may be unable to make appropriate changes or develop certain ideas further in subsequent Sprints.

3. Pick a team member to conduct the Sprint Review.

Some say that the Product Owner runs the Sprint Review meeting, but that is not always the case, or it doesn’t have to be. After all, Scrum Teams are self-organizing, so each member should be capable of running the Sprint Review meeting.

It allows everyone on the team to improve their soft skills, which is why the role should rotate with each review – from the Product Owner to a Scrum Master to each developer.

4. Engage the stakeholders.

The more feedback the team receives, the better – that’s how products deliver more value to those who use them. Unfortunately, not all stakeholders are willing to share thoughts on their own, even though it’s in their best interest. The Sprint Review should encourage giving feedback and asking questions. Sometimes, all it takes is a little push.

If you’re responsible for a given Sprint Review, try to engage the stakeholders. You can do that in different ways: asking specific questions and following up, creating polls or questionnaires, or even making a game out of it – the form is up to you. Just remember about the goal of this exercise: to get the stakeholders talking and asking questions if anything is unclear to them.

5. Focus on the items that add value.

A lot of things get done during a Sprint. However, some are more impactful for the customer than others. When presenting the team’s progress in a Sprint Review meeting, prioritize those user stories that offer the biggest benefits instead of listing all of the little things completed in a Sprint.

Additionally, it’s a good idea to describe how a given item adds value. What is it about this particular user story that is so important? It’s a great complement to answering the question of what the feature does.

6. Refer to the Product Goal during the meeting.

The incremental nature of Scrum means that continuous improvements lead to a better product. That’s why a Product Goal is established in advance, and teams work in Sprints to reach it. It’s a good idea to keep the Product Goal as a point of reference for where the team is going.

This reminder can also be beneficial to stakeholders. When both sides have a clear result in mind, tracking the progress becomes easier.

7. Discuss the Product Backlog with the stakeholders.

After the presentation of Sprint’s accomplishments, the feedback, and the questions, Scrum Teams tend to reach conclusions and apply them to the next Sprint.

Some teams also use the Sprint Review to perform Product Backlog Refinement. When the stakeholders participate in this process, it is more likely to address the customers’ current needs and prioritize the upcoming items more accurately.

Hopefully, these tips will help you improve the Sprint Review experience in your Scrum team. It’s an important event in Scrum, and a great opportunity to foster good relationships with the stakeholders, which can go a long way. Here is the list of the Sprint Review tips in a visual form so you can remember them better.

7 Sprint Review tips in Scrum in visual form