How Often do Agile Teams Have to do Sprint Reviews?

Are you wondering how often to hold a sprint review? You wouldn’t be the first person to ask us that question! Sprint reviews are an agile ceremony that can be formal (in a meeting room) or informal (gathered around someone’s desk). They are designed to showcase the work done during the sprint – as the name suggests, they are a review of the sprint.

“But isn’t that a retro?” you might ask. Well, no. A sprint review is different from a retro. Both agile ceremonies do reflect on what has happened during the sprint but they both have different purposes. A sprint review is a collaborative, team-building exercise where you can show off your work, ask and answer questions and understand more about the product you are building.

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How frequently do Sprint reviews happen?

Sprint reviews happen at the end of every sprint. Sprint review frequency is determined by how long your sprints are.

Agile sprints vary in length but are commonly two to four weeks in duration. That means you would be scheduling a review every two to four weeks. That might sound like a lot but it is a really important ceremony and it’s worth putting the time aside to review the output of the sprint.

During the review, the focus is on demos, looking at the product that has been created, talking about inspect and adapt plans with the product owner, as well as team building and celebration. In our reviews, it’s a time to let out the breath we’ve been holding since the beginning of the sprint and pause to understand the temperature of the team. We ask ourselves: how is everyone feeling now this sprint is over?

Sprint reviews and retrospectives both happen at the end of the sprint, but they are scheduled for different times as they focus on different things. The team gets together for the retro to reflect on what worked, what didn’t and what could be done differently for the next iteration.

In a review, the focus is on the products created. It’s less about the how and more about the what, although you might find some interesting titbits come out of the review that you want to carry forward into the retro discussion. Feel free to note down anything relevant and bring it to the retro. Some teams schedule the review first and then the retro for this reason. Whichever order you decide to follow, make sure that the retro and the review are booked as two separate ceremonies.

What is the purpose of an Agile Sprint review?

The purpose of a sprint review is to look at the products created as a team: to consider what was moved to the status of ‘done’ during the sprint and explain how it meets the success criteria set for the feature. If that sounds like an audit, it’s not supposed to. Reviews are collaborative, interactive and carried out with positive intent. Expect questions, but it isn’t a test!

Reviews are a time to ask questions, play with the new features developed, see what everyone else has done and consider what was delivered. Consider the sprint review a way to celebrate the achievements of the sprint and reflect on a job well done. Sprint reviews have a huge part to play in keeping morale high and recognizing individual and team achievements.

After the review, the product owner may decide to release any completed functionality and the inspect and adapt conversations may influence the product backlog and the decisions made for the next sprint.

How long do Sprint reviews last?

According to Scrum.org, Sprint reviews are limited to 4 hours, which represents one hour for every one week of sprint.

If you run two-week sprints, then your sprint review should last 2 hours. Having said that, consider the format and location of your sprint review and adjust your expectations accordingly. No one wants to be standing around the same desk for 2 hours! Think about how you could mix up locations and switch between colleagues’ desks, or book a meeting room and use that as a base for the conversation.

Another consideration on how long a review lasts is who is attending. Agile sprint reviews can include many attendees, for example users and customers as well as the team. The duration needs to be appropriate to the audience and what they are interested in seeing. You might find that it’s worth inviting users along to look at a demo of new features, but you let them drop out early if they aren’t interested in hearing your conversations about technical debt.

Of course, don’t drag it out if you can cover everything you want to cover in a shorter period of time. People always appreciate being given time back, so if the meeting comes to a natural conclusion earlier, wrap it up when it feels right to do so!

Sprint reviews are a valuable opportunity to get feedback from the people who matter – your customers and colleagues. By demonstrating, inspecting and adapting the product, you can move the team closer to delivering a fit-for-purpose delivery that will meet your stakeholders’ needs.

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