Sprint Review Meetings: 5 Things to Know

What happens every time you interact with a customer? You get feedback! In some way, shape, or form, any time you deliver a product or service, you get something back from your end-users. Sometimes, it comes in the form of indifference. Ideally, it’s in the form of dollars and cents. This is the point of the Sprint Review— to examine and understand the feedback you’re receiving. And what should you do with that feedback? Adapt. 

Taking this time to learn from both successes and mistakes will help your business continue to evolve and grow. Let’s step through 5 key concepts that will help your team keep Sprint Reviews optimized for customer feedback and maximized learning.

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1. The entire point is to inspect the increment and adapt the Product Backlog.

Imagine for a moment you’re in the car, pulling out of the driveway and heading to the next intersection a few hundred meters down the road. You align the steering wheel just right, close your eyes, step on the gas, and count to 20. Afterward, you open your eyes and you’re exactly where you thought you’d be! Sounds kind of stupid right? That’s because it is. 

In reality, driving is a process of constantly making subtle corrections and adjustments as you’re heading towards your destination. Your Sprint Review is the Product Development equivalent. 

Why would you wait 12 months to find out you’ve built the wrong thing? Instead, you should be regularly adjusting to feedback and new information, ensuring you’re always on course in delivering maximum value to a customer. This principle underscores the importance of inspecting and adapting.

2. The Sprint Review is a collaborative event. 

A Sprint Review is a rare opportunity to get unfiltered feedback directly from those you serve. You’ve got all the stakeholders in the room (customers, users, sponsors, governance, etc.), and each of these roles can impart valuable, unique insights. As a result, there’s no better time to hear fresh perspectives on how things are progressing, providing your team the chance to implement meaningful change in response to that feedback. 

If you have other meetings on your calendar focused on the direction of your product, question why. Are you missing an opportunity to collect ideas with a wide diversity of viewpoints already in the room? 

Gathering input during the Sprint Review will make better use of both your time and theirs. Try letting your stakeholders drive the demonstration portion of the meeting. Nothing is better than the instant feedback you receive by having your user navigate through new functionality in real-time— plus, it will ensure they feel their opinions are valued.

3. It’s an informal event. 

The Sprint Review isn’t your typical dog & pony show meant to impress the Business, with an elaborate PowerPoint deck, formal introductions, and everyone dressed up. This is an opportunity to shed the pageantry and see the working product, resulting in actionable feedback on progress. Everything else is just a distraction. 

Challenge yourself to think about the obstacles that you might be inadvertently putting in place— habits that shut down conversation instead of facilitating it. Have a big slide deck? Cut it in half. Working with distributed stakeholders? Experiment with allowing attendees to take control of the screen, or even share their own screens when stepping through new iterations of “Done” work. 

Find comfortable means for coaxing out the opinions of underrepresented parties, and work hard to create an atmosphere where anyone can feel their voice is heard. This event is all about honesty, inclusivity, and free expression.

4. If you’re calling it the Sprint Demo, you’ve missed the point. 

The demonstration portion is an important element of the Sprint Review, but many teams make the mistake of believing that’s all this event is for. Use this opportunity to take a look at your metrics and progress against goals (Net Promoter Score, Retention Numbers, Profit/Loss, etc.). A demo alone is rarely enough to tell the whole story. The conditions around you are constantly changing, and it’s important to take note of these trends.

Use this time to collaborate with your team in examining external changes in the marketplace. There are likely many competitor products that are also constantly releasing new functionality. Developing a deep understanding of how other companies are building and marketing their products will not only help you maintain relevance— it will keep you one step ahead.

5. Take a look at what’s next. 

Imagine you just delivered something to a customer, and they are providing you with some feedback. Instead of just moving onto the next item on your Product Backlog, this is your opportunity to adapt and pivot. Is this new piece of feedback more important (or more valuable) than the next thing you planned to work on? Does this feedback crowd out other priorities expressed by the stakeholders?

Open the Product Backlog and discuss release timelines. Talk through ordering changes based on the feedback from stakeholders. In other words, respond to change to maximize value. Keeping an open mind is critical in preserving alignment with your stakeholders and users, enabling you to maintain momentum and continue moving forward.

Take Your Team to the Next Level

Sprint Review meetings aren’t your typical business powwow— they’re a time for reflecting on progress, provoking discussion, and gathering meaningful feedback. While a product demo can serve as a quality conversation starter, the most effective Sprint Reviews get the whole team talking about the full spectrum of the product development experience, from measurable metrics to competitor trends. By gathering input from across the stakeholder spectrum, teams can ensure they’re constantly moving forward in the right direction. 

Facilitating this new culture, however, still requires a considerable amount of Agile expertise, especially for new practitioners. With a partner like Responsive Advisors, your team can take Sprint Reviews to the next level, leveraging leading experts and proven strategies honed through years of product development experience. From training to coaching, Responsive Advisors provides the full stack of resources you need for effective Agile implementation, offered both online and in-person. 

Robert Pieper

Robert Pieper has been a licensed Scrum.org Professional Scrum Trainer since 2014 and National Public Speaker since 2013. Robb holds an MBA from Marquette University and an Electrical Engineering Degree from Milwaukee School of Engineering. Robb has 15 years of professional software development experience with a passion for making Scrum work delivering real products and services