At the end of each sprint the team reviews and demonstrates all that they’ve completed in that sprint. When you’re reviewing every couple of weeks the reviews need to be treated more like a glitzy premiere than just another review.
Over the years I’ve been involved in some great, and not-so-great, sprint reviews. With a little planning and attention to detail it’s possible to make the review the highlight of the sprint.
Promote positive change
All too often, the users benefitting from the changes and developments we’re involved with, are staff. I’ve heard comments from many members of staff that this is just another project, that it’ll not work this time, the last project was a failure, they don’t listen to us, why should we bother and I’m too busy.
Rather than being seen as the drivers of positive change, projects are often seen in a bad light for having not delivered in the past. Whether you’re involved in a project or a change programme you need to buck the trend and turn this into a positive experience.
Get users involved
When the people benefitting from the project are staff then it’s important to get them involved. This project is likely to have a big impact on them, they’re the users and we need them involved, we need their feedback and we need this to work for them.
We know a sprint or two in advance what is likely to be delivered in that sprint. Meet with the people or teams that the change affect, explain what the team is delivering and encourage them to join the review. When people see changes that affect them, that makes their job easier, helps them to be more effective, it has a very positive effect.
We need to create positivity in any project or programme, particularly when staff are the end users. Seeing real progress, having the opportunity to interact, feedback, and see that feedback form part of what’s delivered helps to drive enthusiasm, buy-in and excitement.
Use the opportunity well
If a demo is going to go wrong, it’s going to happen at a critical moment, in front of a room full of expectation. My experience of wifi in client offices is not to trust it, regardless of how big the client might be.
Some years ago we started pre-recording screencasts for each of the user stories. This became part of the our definition-of-done. As the team steps through each user story in the review, they introduce the story in person, describing how it fits into the sprint and then they play the screencast which demonstrates the functionality.
Pre-recording a screencast for each story means that we don’t lose the flow when a team member fumbles through a demo as the wifi stutters or an unexpected error is thrown. We can circulate links to each screencast for those who couldn’t make it to the demo and we use them as part of the training materials.
Painting a picture
A review is a short pause in the delivery. The work stops and we’re reviewing and demonstrating what’s been completed. The review is a chapter in the novel that is your change programme. Make sure you recap the progress so far to help those showing an interest mid project and to refresh the minds of those who’ve shown interest from the beginning.
In longer term projects I’ve known people not show interest until quite late on when others are beginning to talk more openly about what they’ve seen over the previous months. Take advantage of all new-comers, help to bring them up to speed with the project, explain where we’re at and help them to understand and be able to contribute with feedback and ideas. All input is valuable at all stages of the delivery.
Make it visual
To maintain the interest mid-sprint I like to see screenshots printed out and put on the wall around the office. Take the opportunity to highlight where people’s ideas have made it into the final product. Show that progress is real, that this thing is happening, that projects do work, that change can be positive.
I like to see a roadmap of the delivery, showing pictures of where we started, where we are now, what we’re working on next and how people can get involved.
Reviews are about demonstrating progress but they’re also about creating excitement, creating a buzz to encourage others to get involved. Look after your users and they’ll help make the project a success.