Thursday, December 15, 2016

Sprint Review Best Practices

The sprint review is a critical checkpoint in agile development. It is the opportunity for the stakeholder to see your solution to their problems. Their feedback during the presentation leads to future work being defined and provides a common understand of thier pain points to the development team.

From personal observation, I noticed a few things that detract from the effectiveness of a sprint review. Particularity, new team members don't know what to expect, so I think having a short set of guidelines helps set expectations.

The best case scenario is that you are sitting in the same room with your client. However, some of the points below consider the challenges of a remote team conducting a sprint reviews via telecon and screen-sharing.

Presentation

  • Have a compelling narrative with demonstrable stories flowing into each other
    • Use a common scenario or theme as much as possible
  • Role-play as a specific stakeholder role, demonstrating new functionality within context of their daily tempo
    • Use their team names, role titles and domain language to inspire confidence that you know their processes and how the implemented stories help them
    • Shun words and phrases like "lorem ipsum" and "foo/bar" as they show you don't understand the problem or care enough to use stakeholder specific terms
  • Focus on new functionality, unless a review of previous functionality helps understand the context
    • Minimize UI components that don't contribute to demonstrating the new story
    • Maximize the UI so that background elements don't detract from the story focus
  • Know the audience and understand if they have previously seen the functional area you are talking about. There could be new people listening in or specially invited VIPs.
    • Give reminders of what acronyms stand for before using them
  • Know your project and its capabilities so that you can react to customer confusion and answer questions during the live demonstration
  • Allow "space" during the presentation for feedback. Remember, a good sprint review is not a monologue, it is a conversation.
Etiquette

  • The stakeholder always has precedence during conversations; don't over-talk them. Keep side conversations at a low volume so everyone can hear stakeholder feedback.
  • Mute your telecon microphone if you are not actively involved in a conversation. What seems like low background noise to you can come through loud and clear over the telcon.
  • Turn off cell phone ringers
  • Presenter should close all applications, such as email, IM and team chat apps, that could display popup notifications during the presentation


I hope these points help you during your next sprint review.

And if you think these are all common sense, stay tuned for my next blog post!

2 comments:

Scott Vann said...

Jeff,

Great blog! I really like your suggestions here. Instead of muting phones I'd suggest disallowing them at all. A lot of really good conversations start before or after a meeting like this, but when we have our phones in front of us we tend to zero in on them until the official start of the meeting or hurry out afterwards to check our facebook. If your head is on your phone it is not in the room and you're not giving your clients the gift of your full mindful attention.

Jeff Black said...

Thanks Scott. I appreciate your recognition! I also like you suggestion and have also seen lost opportunities before and after meetings because of cell phones.