Feb 21st, 2024

Difference Between Sprint Review and Sprint Retrospective

Naveen Kumar Singh
Naveen Kumar Singh

Naveen is a professional agile coach and has been working independently for a long time in the Asia... Read more

We all hate too many meetings! It can get real frustrating, especially if you have to organize your daily activities around endless meetings. 

Most teams are in the same boat, failing to understand the process for effective collaboration. Why? Because they’re stuck on the meeting mayhem without a clear roadmap of what meetings to hold and when.  

In the agile world, sprint reviews and sprint retrospectives are two such meetings that are effective for team collaboration and development. 

But, one of the most common questions I get during my Scrum training and coaching is— What’s the difference between sprint review and sprint retrospective? To understand the difference between sprint review and sprint retrospective, let’s understand both of them separately first.

What are Sprints? 

Sprints are the timebox event to produce a part of the product, which we call Increment in the Scrum. It is a time interval to inspect and adapt the product and roadmap. It makes it easy for stakeholders and the scrum team to review the outcome of the sprint.

“Sprint is a small project of a set amount of work forecasted by the scrum team at the beginning of the sprint and is an essential part of the Scrum and agile approach.”- Naveen Kumar Singh, Principal Consultant, Agilemania

The Sprint cycle consists of four broad steps, i.e., Sprint Planning, Daily Scrum during Sprint Implementation, Sprint Review, and Sprint Retrospective. Review and Retrospective are the last two stages of the cycle. We call them events in Scrum, but some teams also refer to them as ceremonies.

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What is a Sprint Review Meeting?

Sprint Review is a formal meeting between scrum teams that happens at the end of a sprint. In sprint review meetings, the team meets to show their work and review it together. 

Review meetings are attended by a scrum master, a product owner, developers, and stakeholders. 

The main motive behind this meeting is to assess the product’s progress and likely completion date. It is also used to determine the product’s beginning according to the customers' needs and the stakeholders' expectations.

During sprint review, participants inspect product increment and adapt product backlog and roadmap. All stakeholders will discuss and assess if any changes are required in subsequent Sprints, and decisions may influence product backlog orders.

The purpose is to arrive at an optimized sprint value. During this meeting, a demonstration of product increment and product backlog takes place.

Review meetings are time-boxed. They usually last anywhere between thirty minutes to four hours. The length of a review meeting doesn’t necessarily depend on the length of the sprints. Rather, they are determined by the amount of work that needs to be reviewed or discussed. 

You can follow this general guideline to organize your sprint review meetings: 

For a one-month sprint (4 weeks): The review meetings are typically timeboxed to approx 4 hours. 

For 2 weeks sprints: The meeting can last around 2 hours. 

What to Check at a Sprint Review Meeting?

What is a Sprint Retrospective?

Now let’s dive into the next meeting: The Sprint Retrospective meeting happens after the Sprint Review meeting. Sprint Retrospective is the last meeting of the sprint or cycle.

The scope of actual improvement is discussed regarding people & relations, processes & practices, and the Definition of Done. It can also be called an improvement meeting conducted to identify the potential errors and mistakes in the past and correct them.

It allows team members, including product owners, scrum masters, and developers, to reflect on the actual product quality, find deviations, and suggest scope for improvement. It is an inspect and adapt event for the Scrum team.

“During Sprint Retrospective meeting, everyone should decide ‘what’ activities they need to stop doing, ‘which’ things the team should be doing in the future, and what ‘more’ should be done to improve the previous processes.”- Naveen Kumar Singh, Principle Consultant, Agilemania 

The time length of a sprint retrospective depends on a lot of aspects, such as the team size, the complexity of the project m, and the amount of discussion your team needs. However, typically, a retrospective meeting lasts around 45 minutes for 1 week of sprint. 

You can follow this general guideline to organize your sprint retrospective meetings:

  1. For 1 week: The retrospective is timeboxed for 45 minutes

  2. For 2 weeks: The meeting duration can be up to 90 minutes

  3. For 4 weeks: The meeting can last around 3 hours 

What to Check at a Sprint Retrospective Meeting?

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Sprint Review Vs.Retrospective: What’s the Difference?

So, by now, I hope it’s clear what the differences are between a sprint review and a sprint retrospective meeting. For a quick overview, check out the table below if you're short on time – it'll only need a few minutes of your attention!

Difference Between Sprint Review vs Sprint Retrospective

 

7 Steps to Conduct a Smooth Sprint Review Meeting

  • 1The goal of a sprint review meeting is to establish three pillars in your scrum team— Transparency, Inspection, and Adaption. However, running a review meeting that establishes all three pillars can be a hassle for many teams. There are many checklists you must strike out to carry out a smooth meeting— Such as communication, time, and goals. In this post, I’m sharing a step-by-step process for you to organize a sprint review meeting smoothly. Keep on reading to find out!
  • 2Prep the Stage - A great review meeting starts with great preparation. So before the meeting, prep the stage by defying the clear goal or purpose of the sprint review meeting. Setting up goals will help everyone in the team understand why they’re attending the meeting and what they’ll get out of it. While setting up the goals, you can consider asking these questions: Who are the stakeholders of this meeting? It can be anyone from product managers, marketers, customer support, or end users. What work was completed during the sprint? What type of feedback will be most valuable for the team at this stage? Are there any specific KPIs to showcase? By addressing these questions, you can set clear goals for your review meeting.
  • 3Stakeholders Are Welcome- In review meetings, all stakeholders are welcome. The stakeholders can be anyone, including product owners, customers, and team members, are present. Make sure to encourage active participation and feedback from everyone involved in the project.
  • 4Create Sprint Review Agenda- Creating an agenda for the meeting is equally crucial for the meeting. An agenda ensures that everyone on the team is on track. The meeting agenda should include: The participants of the meeting Review of the previous sprint Demonstration of the work Discussion of potential impediments What will be the next plan for the team
  • 5Share the Sprint Goal - The meeting will start with the product owner sharing the sprint goal with everyone. By sharing the goals, the stakeholders can also get a sense of what they can expect from the meeting and what needs to be done by the team.
  • 6Product Increment Demonstration- The next step in running a smooth sprint review meeting is to review the completed project or demonstrate the product increment. Any product or project that is ready for release can be demonstrated by the developers. During this demonstration, showcase the completed user stories from the sprint. Your team can use visual demos, slides, graphs, or prototypes to highlight any new features or changes. Presenting some visual aids can always make the review meeting engaging for everyone.
  • 7Encourage Feedback Collection - Now, to make the review meeting successful, you have to foster a collaborative environment for feedback and discussion. Encourage the stakeholders to share their feedback on the demonstrated product/project features. If the team has any concerns, questions, or suggestions, accept them openly and use them as an opportunity to grow.
  • 8Product Backlog Presentation- Once you’ve completed the demo and received feedback from all the stakeholders, it’s time to bring the product backlog to the table. Based on the feedback received during the meeting, revisit the product backlog to see what projects are still in the backlog. Any important details related to the project that might affect the scrum team’s productivity should be addressed during the backlog presentation. These details may include upcoming project/product delivery dates, budgets, upcoming tasks, roadblocks, etc. Also, ensure that new items or adjustments to the backlog are identified and prioritized collaboratively based on the received feedback.

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6 Steps to Conduct a Smooth Sprint Retrospective Meeting

  • 1The best way to carry out a successful sprint retrospective is to prepare for it beforehand. To ensure the retrospective meeting doesn’t clash with the sprint review or planning meeting, schedule a regular timer for it. Also, designate a meeting facilitator to facilitate the retrospective.
  • 2Review Previous Retrospective Commitments- Start the retrospective meeting by reviewing the previous retrospective commitments. Check if the action items on the previous retrospective were implemented and had an effective impact.
  • 3People, Collaboration, and Relationship - Discussing how your team’s dynamics and collaboration were during the sprint is crucial. Ask your scrum team to share their positive experiences and areas that need improvement. Make sure to acknowledge the achievement of every individual on the team to foster a healthy work culture.
  • 4Process and Practices- Walk through the sprint timeline and highlight any key events and milestones. Ask the team what worked well for them in terms of process and practices. If any area doesn't go smoothly for the team, retrospective meetings are the perfect place to address them. Discuss with the team about any bottlenecks, communication gaps, or process inefficiencies.
  • 5Definition of DONE - Don’t forget to evaluate how well the team stuck to the Definition of Done in the previous sprint. Discuss any challenges faced in meeting the criteria and how they can be addressed.
  • 6Tools and Technology - In the sprint retrospective meeting, you can also evaluate the effectiveness of the tools and technology used during the sprint. Discuss whether there are better tools available or if improvements can be made to existing ones. Identify if any team members need additional training on the tools or technologies being used.
  • 7Action Planning - Have the team prioritize the identified areas for improvement based on impact and feasibility. Make sure to clearly define action items, specifying who will be responsible for each, and set a timeframe for implementation. Establish a system for tracking and reviewing the progress of action items in subsequent retrospectives. End the retrospective on a positive note, reinforcing the importance of continuous improvement and collaboration. And always remember to ask for feedback on the retrospective process itself to refine and improve it continually.
  • 8Follow Up- Keep track of the progress of action items and discuss them in subsequent sprint retrospectives. Regularly review the retrospective process and make adjustments as needed to enhance its effectiveness. By following these detailed steps, you can facilitate a seamless and productive Sprint Retrospective, fostering a culture of continuous improvement within the Scrum team.

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Example of the Sprint Review Meeting 

While developing a healthcare insurance product, we discussed our sprint goal, which was to “Allow less than 35-year-old, non-smoker customers to generate a quote online.”

Next, developers demonstrated working features from the staging server as per the definition of done, and stakeholders provided feedback. Some feedback was crucially related to user experience and performance.

After feedback, everyone talked about what to focus on next. Does the team continue developing quote features for other groups, or should build to-buy online functionality? Everyone agreed to continue quotes for the family members.

Example Of The Sprint Retrospective Meeting

The Scrum team discussed feedback received during the sprint review and discussed team composition, collaboration, and relationships that impacted the sprint result.

The team put all topics that they encountered or would like to improve individually on board. They went through each of them and agreed to get help from a user experience expert. They also added performance tests as part of the DONE definition.

Besides these, the team decided to peer code review to pay attention to code quality to avoid technical debt.

Wrapping  Up

Think of the review and retrospective meetings as the scrum team’s magnifying glasses. Like the glasses, these meetings can help your team amplify the details of the sprint. 

With both meetings, your team can scrutinize what went well, what the shortcomings are, and areas for improvement. At the end of every sprint, these two meetings become a powerful catalyst for continuous improvement. 

Whether you’re collaborating remotely or within the traditional office space, consistently organizing both Sprint Review and Retrospective meetings can be the cornerstone for unlocking remarkable and sustained results over time.

Becoming a Scrum Master offers a rewarding career with opportunities for leadership, continuous learning, and collaboration. With competitive salaries ranging from $70,000 to over $120,000 per year in the United States alone, it's a lucrative and fulfilling choice for those passionate about driving Agile success.

Frequently
Asked
Questions

Sprint review focuses on reviewing and demonstrating the work done during the sprint and discussing the future scope of work for the product. Sprint retrospective focuses on the work process, focusing on how the team worked collaboratively during the sprint. 

 

Sprint review is a meeting that focuses on reviewing the scope of work for a product. The entire Scrum team and sometimes the stakeholders attend this meeting. During the meeting, tea can provide feedback on the product increment and backlog. 

 

The length of the sprint review and retrospective meeting depends on the sprint length and phase. For example, for a one-month sprint, the review meetings are time-boxed for a maximum of four hours. For a four-week sprint, the retrospective meeting is timeboxed for a maximum of three hours.

Sprint planning occurs at the start of each sprint. It focuses on planning the work to be done in the upcoming sprint. On the contrary, retrospective meetings are for improving the team's work process for future sprints. 

Naveen Kumar Singh

Naveen is a professional agile coach and has been working independently for a long time in the Asia Pacific. He works with the software development team and product team to develop awesome products based on empirical processes.

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