What Is a Sprint Review?

A collaborative event for showcasing achievements, gathering feedback, and pivoting if needed
A group of coworkers laugh and converse seated at a table with a laptop

Collaborators: Bernie Maloney, Madhur Kathuria, Ram Srinivasan

The sprint review is one of the five events of the scrum framework. This event allows the scrum team and stakeholders to inspect progress toward the product goal and determine future adaptations. Like all scrum events, the sprint review occurs during the sprint itself. It doesn’t occur outside of the sprint cadence.

What Is a Sprint Review?

It’s a collaborative meeting held every sprint. Having said that, you don’t need to think of it as a “meeting” in the traditional sense. This meeting is actually called an “event” in scrum. There are five events: 

  • The sprint 
  • Sprint planning
  • Daily scrum
  • Sprint review
  • Sprint retrospective 

All of these events are opportunities to inspect and adapt.

Sprint reviews don’t have to be the same-old meeting format. You could hold an open space, a Sprint Bazaar, use interactive online tools, or utilize other collaborative techniques that bring people together to inspect and adapt.

You should hold a sprint review before the sprint retrospective. That way, the team can discuss any feedback they received about their processes in the psychologically safe environment of a retrospective.

Reviews have a four-hour timebox for a one-month sprint. Shorter sprints have shorter review timeboxes (two hours for a two-week sprint, for example). A timebox is a maximum, and scrum teams don’t fill the entire time if they have achieved their objective before the end of the timebox.

This event should be more than a presentation. This is the scrum team’s opportunity to have a discussion with stakeholders and get valuable feedback. 

The event includes but is not limited to:

  • Inspection of the sprint outcomes and questions about the outcomes
  • Inspection of how the outcomes contribute to the product goal
  • Inspection of external conditions, such as market conditions
  • Inspection of internal constraints, such as milestones, budgets, and timelines
  • Adaptations as needed

At the sprint review, the scrum team shares the outcomes of their current sprint to stakeholders and other attendees they’ve invited. The team presents product backlog items that have met their definition of done and discuss any challenges they encountered. The event is a comprehensive look at the progress toward the product goal, the challenges, and what to do next.

Goals of a Sprint Review

Typical goals of a sprint review include:

  • Share the increments and the work: The scrum team may demonstrate the working increments they have completed during the sprint, allowing stakeholders to see the progress made. The team may also cover what has changed in their environment and what may have constrained their ability in areas where they made only partial progress. 
  • Ask for stakeholder feedback: The event shouldn’t be limited to a demo of the increment. This event allows stakeholders to give feedback on the work and engage in discussion with the scrum team. It helps the team understand if they are moving in the right direction and if they need to make adjustments.
  • Update the product backlog: Based on the feedback received, the product owner may update the product backlog to reflect any new insights or changes required. In extreme cases, the entire product backlog may be deleted if the direction of the product development requires such a pivot.
  • Identify next steps: Collaboratively, the scrum team and stakeholders may discuss and identify priorities, needs, and changes. This information helps the scrum team in their next sprint planning event, in which they create a sprint goal and a plan for achieving it.
  • Facilitate collaboration: The sprint review fosters collaboration between the scrum team and stakeholders. It encourages open communication, enabling the team to understand stakeholder expectations and determine the next steps. Like all scrum events, the sprint review is an opportunity for transparency, inspection, and adaptation — the three pillars of the empirical process in scrum.

Who Should Attend the Sprint Review?

The scrum team attends: developers, scrum master, and product owner. The sprint review is open to all stakeholders. Often, scrum teams invite individuals who have a stake in the most recent work they’ve completed. The team may invite customers or users. 

As the creators of the increment, the developers play an essential role in sharing their work and answering questions. 

The product owner attends to provide guidance on product-related decisions and to incorporate stakeholder feedback into the product backlog. The product owner’s decisions are visible in the contents and ordering of the product backlog and in the inspectable increment. The product owner can support the developers as they share the outcomes.

The scrum master's role in this event may vary with each meeting. They are there to support and guide the scrum team as the team learns how to facilitate this event and use it as an opportunity to uphold transparency, inspection, and adaptation. The scrum master may, at times, facilitate the sprint review themselves although not a requirement of the accountability.

Tips for Holding a Scrum Sprint Review

How long should it take?

The Scrum Guide describes a four-hour timebox for the review if your sprint is one-month long. Shorter sprints will typically have a shorter timebox. Your scrum team may need to inspect how well the timebox works for your sprint review and modify it for future reviews if needed.

What should my agenda look like?

Please see a sample sprint review agenda. Your discussions during this event may include:

  • Reminding everyone of the product goal and the sprint goal
  • Showing the completed work or the increment of the current sprint
  • Discussing the release of the increment in relation to budget, timelines, marketplace, and other relevant factors
  • Discuss what work is the most valuable for the upcoming sprints

Who should run a sprint review?

The scrum team facilitates this event and invites stakeholders and other attendees as needed. Because the product owner is responsible for maximizing the product's value resulting from the developers' work, they will often take the lead or kick off the conversation in the sprint review.

Your scrum team and context will be unique, and as part of a retrospective, you should discuss the best ways for your team to run the meeting, whether that involves the product owner guiding the review or a different format.

What is the difference between a sprint review and a sprint retrospective?

The best way to understand the difference between these two events is to recognize the difference in purpose and attendance between the events. 

The review is about the product. The retrospective is about the team’s collaboration and interaction. 

The sprint review happens first so the team can factor in stakeholder feedback when making decisions about action items during the sprint retrospective. Stakeholders attend the sprint review, but the retrospective is a scrum team-only event. 

An Opportunity to Inspect and Adapt

The scrum team can share their outcomes and receive valuable stakeholder feedback in the sprint review. The scrum framework promotes transparency, collaboration, and continuous improvement within the team. By leveraging the sprint review effectively, scrum teams can ensure they deliver value to their customers and meet stakeholder expectations.

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