Monday, August 3, 2015

Agile Development: Demo Day

So far in this Agile Development series I've:
  • Made the case for Scrum
  • Defined who and what a sprint team is
  • Walked through the anatomy of a sprint
  • Provided tools for determining sprint duration
  • Detailed what daily stand-up looks like
  • Provided the typical workflow for planning a sprint
  • Outlined the sprint retrospective
In my final post in this series I'll explain demo day and how it relates to agile development.

What Demo Day Is

As I've been saying all along in this series, one of the main objectives of Agile is to reduce the time it takes to complete the feedback loop. The loop is complete when the stakeholders have reviewed the feature(s) and signed off on them. Demo day closes the loop and provides the stakeholders with an opportunity to affect change.

I like to think of demo day as the bow that is tied around the sprint. It brings closure to the sprint process which started with sprint planning. At it's core the sprint demo is the teams opportunity to showcase what they've built during the sprint. Beyond that sprint demos can also be a useful tool leading into the next sprint planning phase as the product manager may change the plan for the next sprint based on the progress of the team.

There are two main parts to demo day. First is to review the work completed and not completed during the sprint. Second is to demonstrate the completed work to the stakeholders.

Reviewing Work

Reviewing the sprint work should be comprised of three things. First the team should very briefly call out what stories the team accepted into the sprint during planning. Second the team identifies what stories were added to the sprint after the sprint started. Finally the team goes over what stories were not completed during the sprint.

It's important to note that the review is not an exercise in excuse making or justifying not getting everything done. It's main purpose is to close the feedback loop with stakeholders and set expectations prior to heading into sprint planning.

The Demonstrations

Demonstrations are just that, demoing what the team built during the sprint. Typically the demo is limited to the user impacting aspect of the features the sprint team worked on during the sprint. The team reviews the features to ensure they are complete as well as provide product management the opportunity to get clarifications on behalf of the customer.

One mistake I've often seen people make is trying to "demo" spreadsheets or powerpoint bullets. This usually happens because the team was mostly in bug fix mode or works on non-user facing features. I would encourage teams in this situation to get creative and tell a story using charts, graphs, and metrics instead of showing data in excel or a list of powerpoint bullets.

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