Sprint Review VS Retrospective: Understanding Their Differencies and Particularities

By Nathan Cavet
Published: 26/03/2021
definition backgroundillustration agenda 5

The sprint review, like the sprint retrospective, is one of the Scrum ceremonies that take place within the Scrum agile framework. This meeting is held at the end of each sprint, to review the work done during the past sprint. This is the time to present the software developments made to the product, which are tested and functional.

But more than just demonstrating the product, bug fixes or new features, the purpose of this meeting is also to discuss and identify possible improvements.

Discover all the characteristics of the sprint review, who participates in it, how it is conducted in stages, the difference between the retrospective, and how to ensure an efficient organization!

Sprint review vs retrospective

Definition of a sprint review

The sprint review is the meeting intended to evaluate the results obtained by the scrum team after a sprint. It allows you to analyse the progress made by the development team in order to reach the set objective.

If it is often thought that the sprint review consists of a product demonstration, this is only a small part of the event itself. It is also the right time to:

  • present the completed increment,
  • give context to the obtained results,
  • discuss any encountered issues,
  • discuss the solutions to be implemented to avoid them and help the future sprints.

The objectives of the sprint review

In accordance with the Scrum model, a project is evaluated with regard to the sprint objective determined during the sprint planning meeting.

The main purposes of the sprint review are:

  • to control the achieved increment,
  • to adjust the product backlog, if necessary.

This is in line with the DNA of the Scrum method, which aims to maximize the value of the product for the users.

Who participates in the sprint review?

The participants in the sprint review are :

  • the entire Scrum team and its different members (i.e. the Product Owner, the Scrum Master and the development team),
  • the stakeholders,
  • the users,
  • the sponsors, if any.

Each of them plays a fundamental role in the smooth running of the event:

The Product Owner

The Product Owner, whose presence is fundamental throughout the development process, is the person who ensures that all interested parties are available to attend the meeting.

During the meeting, the Product Owner:

  • presents the current state of the product ;
  • presents the upcoming developments for the next sprint;
  • answers question from stakeholders.

The Scrum Master

The Scrum Master is a kind of manager, whose role is to:

  • to ensure the execution of the event;
  • to respect the scheduled meeting time ;
  • to ensure that everything runs smoothly.

The development team

The development team's role is to present the increment at the time of the sprint review. It presents what has been accomplished and, if a problem has occurred, the solution to be implemented to resolve it.

The team also receives feedback that will be used to continuously improve the product, whether it is:

  • additional features,
  • new requirements,
  • desired corrections, etc.

Other stakeholders

Other interested parties or stakeholders can be users and sponsors. Their participation is important because they can provide quality feedback and open up new perspectives. This allows the development to progress successfully.

Thus, the sprint review offers the ideal framework to:

  • promote communication around the product,
  • share feedback on the product and compare different points of view,
  • and collaboratively define the next steps in the product development process.
sprint review meeting© Quick Scrum

Sprint review’s duration

According to the Scrum guide, a sprint review should not last more than 4 hours for sprints running over a month.

For shorter sprints, it usually lasts less, often around 1 hour.

The sprint retrospective

The sprint retrospective is the very last ceremony of the scrum ceremonies. It happens just after the sprint review but before the next sprint planning.

The differences

There are several distinct points between the sprint review vs retrospective.

  • Like the daily scrum, the sprint review is often an informal type of meeting.
  • The sprint retrospective is usually shorter in terms of time than the sprint review.
  • The sprint retrospective focuses on understanding how the team is building the sprint while the sprint review is focused on what the team is building.
  • The final goal of the sprint retrospective is to improve the development process.

The 4 steps of a sprint review

There is no standard procedure because each meeting adapts to its own context and organization. However, it is possible to organize it on the basis of the following steps:

1 - The assessment

To open the meeting, the first thing to do is to announce the objective of the sprint. This will serve as a reminder to the participants and will allow everyone to start from the same base to evaluate what will be presented.

After the announcement of the agenda, the Scrum team presents:

  • the items that have been completed,
  • those that could not be completed and why (problems encountered),
  • the state of progress of the product,
  • the achievement of the objectives.

It is also an opportunity to leave room for questions and answers and to gather feedback.

2 - The demonstration

The demonstration is a presentation session of the product increment, aiming to verify it functions properly.

In the case of the development of a web application, for example, it is ideal to give the participants the opportunity to interact with it in order to obtain the most complete feedback possible, in the perspective of optimizing it.

This step takes place if it is deemed relevant, but is not central to the sprint review.

3 - Performance analysis

During the sprint review, various indicators can be used and presented to monitor the achievement of objectives, such as:

  • the team performance,
  • customer satisfaction,
  • any other measurable result useful for future sprints.

4 - Sharing feedback and adapting the product backlog

Thanks to the interactions of the different participants in this meeting, which will be translated into new user stories (US), you now have a list of:

  • new requirements,
  • patches to implement.

This moment of exchange is essential to address all the subjects and ideas concerning the product, in a collaborative way and by capitalizing on the feedback expressed. This is how the product backlog is reviewed, adapted and prioritized to meet new needs.

Finally, the meeting can end with the definition of the actions to take during the next sprint, with the different delivery batches planned and their deadlines.

Tips for organizing an effective sprint review

Finally, you’ll find below some good practices to apply in order to get the maximum value out of this complete sprint review process:

  • Do not use this Scrum ceremony as a team steering meeting. Other ceremonies or meetings have this function, it is not the purpose of the sprint review,
  • Make sure you frame the meeting and do not exceed the time announced,
  • Invite all the necessary participants, both those who have an interest in the product and those who are not familiar with it. You will get varied and constructive feedback to complete the product and even challenge it,
  • Prepare and centralize all the necessary elements before the meeting, in your Scrum project management software, for example, in order to access the objectives, functionalities, scenario set up for the demo, etc,
  • Leave room for discussion by avoiding a too rigid presentation. Giving the impression that the meeting is informal will encourage collaboration and allow everyone to speak up,
  • Take note of all the suggestions, but remember to discuss them with the team before updating the product backlog.

You now have all the elements to make each sprint review an opportunity to increase the value of your product. But what about you, do you have any advice or feedback to share on how to conduct this meeting? Let us know in the comments!

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