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The Anatomy Of A Sprint Review

By Expert Author: Mrugesh panchal

The sprint review meeting is an important scrum event. In scrum, a lot of emphasis is given upon its successful completion. The scrum master enforces the scrum process and is responsible for its streamlined implementation. S/he ensures that the review is properly carried out. The product owner is an important entity in scrum and “conducts” the review to ensure whether the user stories are in fact shippable, and can be presented to the stakeholders during the succeeding sprint retrospective meeting held immediately after the review.

The primary objective of the sprint review is to demonstrate the user stories developed during the sprint. The stories are demonstrated to the product owner who verifies that the acceptance criteria is properly adhered to and whether the stories are “shippable”. In certain cases, when scrum is implemented to suit a particular organization’s specific work process, the management or the product owner may decide to provide prompt feedback regarding the acceptance status even while a sprint is currently underway. The product owner may comment, or mark a particular task as rejected or incomplete if it does not meet the acceptance criteria, even while the team is currently developing other sprint backlog items during the sprint. However, a sprint review is essential for scrum, and the stories need to be formally flagged as unacceptable in the event they do not meet the definition of “done” during the sprint review. There can be certain variations about how or when the review should be conducted, but in all aspects, a formal review is a “must” for scrum and should be held after the sprint iteration is over.

Ideally, the review should be time boxed to a maximum of 4 hours for a sprint extending for one month, or for 2 hours if it lasts for 2 weeks.

The product owner identifies how many sprint backlog items the team has completed during the sprint. If some of the tasks have been left incomplete, the PO demands an explanation regarding their incomplete status, and the team is liable to discuss any problem which may have impeded the development of the tasks. Sometimes, the development team may fail to estimate the user stories in a precise manner, and might accept more stories than it is capable of developing. The error may be based upon a lack of proper judgment, but it needs to be identified and discussed during the review. If some of the user stories fail to satisfy the acceptance criteria, the product owner should demand an explanation as to why the team failed to develop it in the correct manner. Did the team member fail to understand the definition of “done”? Was there some technical reason why the story failed to satisfy the acceptance criteria? The reasons should be pinpointed and dealt with during the review. The scrum master should also contribute to the review by putting forward his or her observations and advise during the meeting.

The review is generally informal in nature and its main purpose is to ascertain the status of completed user stories. The review activity should be precise and focused to be effective.

The entire scrum team should attend the meeting. This primarily includes the product owner and the scrum master. Ideally, the stakeholders and end-users should also be invited to the meeting even though their participation is not mandatory. However, their presence may help to make the review more realistic and support the inspect and adapt process which is so essential to scrum methodology. Stakeholders can provide some valuable feedback and even offer an insight into the acceptance criteria linked with user stories. The entire team can understand the user stories from the project owner’s perspective, and it may help the team to analyze the user stories from a totally different viewpoint during the development stage.

Call to actions
Each meeting should result into actionable activities. The review should result into a list of “To do” items for the team in most cases, especially if the scrum team is new or inexperienced. The call-to-actions should be worked out keeping in mind the lessons learnt from prior sprints.

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