A valuable Sprint Review (from now on in this blog referred to as Demo) can be built in three steps. It starts during the Sprint planning session with agreeing on and understanding the user stories on the Sprint backlog. Then, during the Sprint, the team constantly exchanges ideas and results of the realisation of the Story. Finally, during the demo itself, the Product Owner and the rest of the team demo the stories to the stakeholders to display the value delivered and open up for feedback.
Planning for a good demo During the planning session, it is imperative that the Product Owner and the rest of the team understand the stories that will be picked up. This sounds obvious, but it happens often that this is not the case. Stories might be too technical so the Product Owner is disconnected or stories are so high level that it is hard to determine what needs to be done.
Make sure stories are formulated from the perspective of an end-user of the functionality that will be delivered. This could be an actual user, a system that picks up whatever result is created or any other manifestation of who or what will use the result of the story.
Also take care of getting the acceptance criteria clear. This way it will be clear to developers what to build, to testers what to test for and designers what to design. It will help the Product Owner to have a better idea what is in and what might have to be defined in a new/other user story.
It is important that everyone understands the context in which the story ‘lives’. What part of the system is touched (end-to-end is preferred but not always possible), which parties are affected by the change, what prerequisites are needed, etc.
Building for a great demo When during the creation of the value of each story the whole team is in constant contact about intermediate results and decisions taken, everyone will be able to add to the value and be aware of what the result of the story will be. It is very important that the whole team is including the Product Owner. When the PO sees the intermediate results, she or he can already create an image of what the result will be like. Also, the PO can contact stakeholders that might have an opinion of what is created and, when needed, adjust the end result to match expectations.
Delivering an valuable demo In the demo, the Product Owner should present to the stakeholders the value of each user story that has been delivered. So, per story, explain what has changed from the perspective of the end-user and have the rest of the team show this. Also, when stories are not done, explain which (sub-)functionality is not yet finished. Make sure to ask for feedback from the end-user or other stakeholders on what is demonstrated.
Conclusion The value of the demo depends largely on the cooperation of the entire team. When the Product Owner and the rest of the team work together on understanding what will be delivered and help each other to get the most value from each story delivered the demo will be focused, valuable and fun.