Facilitating the scrum review...

One of the Agile processes that is most commonly misunderstood is the review, which is sometimes referred to as a ‘customer/stakeholder review’, the ‘show and tell’, or "demo".  Facilitating the scrum review can be difficult for some. The review is not a demo, it is an opportunity to inspect the work  and adapt the Product Backlog. You show the customer/stakeholders the "done" increment of work achieved during the last sprint and give them the opportunity to provide feedback.

Who facilitates the review and who should attend?

Depending on your team, the review will normally be facilitated by either the Scrum Master or the Product Owner. The people in attendance should include the whole project team, the product owner and the stakeholders.

How long should the review last?

One of the methods used in Agile, is time boxing. Keeping to a strict time helps teams to be more focused, precise and efficient. For a four week sprint, the event is time boxed to 4 hours.  Four hours could be a tight time frame, so make sure you keep the time box.  Keep the meeting on it's course.

Preparing the product owner

If the Scrum Master is facilitating the review, then he/she will need to prepare the product owner, who should:
  • Set expectations to keep stakeholders focus and the meeting on target. Outline the Reviews path.
  • Know what was completed and what was not.
  • Be able to explain issues the team faced in completing user stories.
  • Understand each user story thoroughly and be clear on what the acceptance criteria for each is.
  • Be ready to discuss the current product backlog and in particular, the next highest priority items.
  • Review the release goal which will help keep the everyone in touch with the ‘bigger picture’. This is important as helps keep stakeholders aligned, and assists in keeping the big picture front and center.
  • How to reply to "got you" comments.  These should be immediately put down. Reinforce the set expectations from earlier.

Presenting the work

Ahead of the review, teams should also think about what items of their work they are going to demonstrate, what order they will be shown in and who will present them. Some teams choose to have one spokesperson for the entire group, who will demonstrate and explain each of the user stories working. Other teams prefer to have each member of the team present one user story each is possible. By asking your teams to present their own work, you encourage them to be self-managing, another key principle of Agile.

Accepting the work

If the work presented meets the definition of ‘done’ and the product owner has no concerns, he/she must then accept the work as being completed.

Use the review for continual improvement

Another key principle in Agile is a focus on continuous improvement. One of the advantages of the review is that it gives the team an opportunity to learn and grow. By utilizing any new or important information discovered during the review, the Product Backlog is enhanced with more valuable user stories.  The review is a powerful tool, that not only aligns IT with stakeholders, but provides a way to stay current with the market. If you are still unsure about how to facilitate an Agile review or have suggestions, we'd  be delighted, drop us a line below.
It is not a bolt to be tightened into place but a seed to be planted and to bear more seed toward the hope of greening the landscape of idea.” – John Ciardi