During a sprint review meeting, the scrum team should present product increment and receive necessary feedback from stakeholders.
It is the most important opportunity to inspect product development and adapt it to stakeholders’ needs.
Scrum master supports sprint review by ensuring it takes place, everyone understands its purpose, and by finding ways to improve it and preparing for it.
Here are a couple of different ways by which from my experience a scrum master can help.
Ensuring review takes place
It is the most important but in my opinion also the simplest thing to achieve. If the organization uses scrum framework then it should be impossible not to have a review. Even if scrum is not well adopted yet – the sprint review should be one of the first things that are implemented in the work culture.
If a sprint review takes place then it is the first step for it to be effective.
That means that the team has the oportunity to present product increment and receive feedback.
I will cover effectiveness in the rest of the article.
Understanding sprint review purpose
When working with a team that is relatively new to the framework scrum master should explain the pillars of scrum – transparency, inspection, and adaptation.
Sprint review is the essence of scrum pillars.
The scrum team provides transparency of every increment of the product.
Key stakeholders can inspect progress towards business goals and provide the team with necessary feedback for adaptation.
Scrum master supports sprint review by making it clear that it is in everyone’s interest to be open to honest and precise discussion about the product increment.
The review meeting is the place where the alignment of development with business goals happens.
On sprint review, the stakeholders have the opportunity to see new features in action.
They can then provide feedback to the team on whether the application works as expected.
When the team knows that is working on something valuable and useful, it is easier to take responsibility for the development.
Sprint review preparation
Actually, the first preparation for the upcoming sprint review takes place during the sprint planning meeting.
When setting a sprint goal we decide what will be presented during the review.
The awareness of this connection should make the team a little bit cautious about the load.
It is imperative that actual stakeholders that can deliver valuable feedback attend the sprint review.
It is as simple as that.
Before setting up the meeting scrum master should be confident that all individuals that have an interest in the increment are invited.
The “before” meeting
The developers along with the product owner should organize the meeting and decide how they are going to present the increment.
It is a good idea to have a pre-review meeting for the team to establish a plan for the presentation.
The presentation should be professional, even if the stakeholders are the scrum team’s buddies.
The pre-review meeting can take place the day before the review so there is still time to adjust some issues if needed.
From my experience the who – is one of the key things during this meeting.
Not everyone is keen to show a piece of working software in front of an audience every two weeks or so.
If the team has problems choosing the presenter among themselves, that is another thing that a scrum master should help the team with.
The plan should also cover technical details about how to present the increment.
It is a good idea to prepare and test all the necessary elements of the presentation environment.
By those elements I mean the code, databases, servers, internet connection, and all other details.
Those things in case of a malfunction can prevent the review from taking place.
The main goal of the pre-review meeting should be the completion of the agenda.
Of course, the agenda should be transparent to everyone in the process, and easily editable during the meeting in front of everyone watching.
It should contain information about:
– topics to cover
– who is presenting every part of the increment
It should also have space for notes with feedback or other conclusions from the discussion which should take place during the meeting.
Sprint review facilitation
When the day comes someone should lead and facilitate the meeting.
Of course, anyone can do it.
Facilitating the sprint review is one of the ways a scrum master can support the rest of the scrum team.
If someone doesn’t directly develop the product it is easier to take over the facilitation part.
The sprint review can start with a quick briefing by a scrum master about:
- the goal of the sprint,
- its course,
- other relevant information regarding the conditions in which the team operated.
A sprint burndown chart can be presented and discussed.
It can be any other metric showing the progress during the iteration.
Metrics are not necessary from the perspective of the goal of the meeting.
Facilitating in case of the review meeting is most of all activating stakeholders to provide the necessary feedback about the presented increment.
If stakeholders don’t comment on the presentation at all then the facilitator should encourage them to discuss.
If the stakeholders give feedback, it should be noted. The observations should be discussed at the backlog refinement meeting for future product adaptation.
If there is no comment about the work – good or bad, then something is obviously very wrong.
The facilitator – scrum master should pay attention and try to find the reasons for the absence of feedback.
Scrum master should take the observations to the team or to stakeholders for discussion.
If concerns are confirmed, the scrum team should turn them into process improvements.
Sprint review improvement
Improvements regarding stakeholders’ participation usually refer to one of two things:
1. Relevant stakeholders were absent
2. Stakeholders didn’t understand the purpose of the meeting
In the first case, there was some kind of misunderstanding. People who could give feedback were not invited or couldn’t attend.
It can be seen as a kind of an impediment that stands in the way of the team delivering desired software.
The scrum master can support sprint review by ensuring that the most relevant stakeholders attended the meeting.
In the second case, it is the scrum master’s role to explain to everyone what’s this meeting all about.
Stakeholders must know that they should without hesitation comment on the increment during the meeting.
Substantive discussion on new features and the whole product is crucial to be well aligned in developing value.
Scrum master should explain how this meeting should proceed at the very beginning of cooperation.
Also when new stakeholders appear scrum master should briefly inform them about how the meeting is run.
The way the increment is presented plays a crucial role in receiving the right feedback.
In other words: if stakeholders can’t understand what the increment is then it is impossible to give any relevant information about the product evolution.
A classic example is when developers are using extremely technical language talking to non-tech people.
The art of presentation and effective communication is covered more in-depth in the article: Presentation on a sprint review
It can be a good idea to inspect the team’s objectives at the end of every review meeting.
When doing so, everyone can see how the last increment brings the team closer to reaching the product goal or team’s PI objectives if working in SAFE.
If the stakeholders are from outside the organization I would consider inspecting the goal’s progress on a different occasion.
Scrum master supports sprint review not only in ensuring that it takes place and everyone understands its purpose.
Sprint Review is the most crucial event in the scrum process.
Scrum masters should constantly look for improvements in gaining valuable feedback on product increment.