Sprint Review: Don’t Be Afraid To Invite The User

A Sprint Review is a great opportunity for all Scrum Team members to take a step back and look at the Increment they created during the Sprint and gain feedback from other relevant stakeholders. First, let’s discuss the mechanics of a Sprint Review, namely where, when and who should attend?

Who Should Attend?

The entire Scrum Team should attend, as well as interested stakeholders. This may include the project sponsor, customers, users, management, marketing, sales or anyone else that is relevant and interested.

Some teams are reluctant to invite the customer or user for whatever reason – either they don’t even know who the user is, fear that they shouldn’t be approaching them or worry about scope creep – but the fact is that including the user in your Sprint Review will actually be very beneficial in order to help us build the best possible product.

They are the ones who will end up having to use your software after all… they’re going to have opinions on it. It’s much better to hear their views than it is to stick your head in the sand. Likewise, inviting the users to volunteer feedback helps to get them engaged in the process and you’ll probably find they are appreciative of face time with the Scrum Team. They could also become your biggest advocates if you treat them right.

The Sprint Review Is Not About Judgement

The purpose of the Sprint Review is for stakeholders to get visibility of the current state of the Increment so they can offer feedback to help shape and define what should be worked on next. The Sprint Review may generate new Product Backlog items (PBI’s), changes or removal to existing PBI’s and may lead to reprioritization of existing PBI’s. All feedback should be welcome. It is up to the Product Owner to deal with that feedback and ensure it is incorporated into the Product Backlog where it has value.

Only Done work that has met the Scrum Team’s Definition of Done should be shown. Otherwise, stakeholders may think that partially complete work is in fact complete and is ready to be released, when it is not. This is all about transparency and being honest and open about the current state of the Increment.

The Scrum Guide says, that for a 1-month Sprint, the Sprint Review should be timeboxed to 4 hours and potentially less for shorter Sprints. That is all it says. Some teams maintain the 4-hour timebox even if using shorter Sprints. Others will proportionally shorten the event, e.g. for 2 weeks Sprints, their timebox will be 2 hours.

Consider It a Focus Group

Think of your Sprint Review as an informal focus group on your completed features. This evetn is to examine WHAT you are building, whereas you could say the subsequent Sprint Retrospective instead examines HOW you are building it.

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