22 September 2011
Who Should Perform the Sprint Review?
The question remains, though, is it always a bad thing for the Product Owner or Customer to perform the demo at the end of the iteration or sprint?
The Scrum Guide is certainly clear that the team performs the demo, but I come from the XP world where the Customer is involved on a daily basis (remember the 4th principle of the Agile Manifesto) and is seeing and accepting completed work as near to when it's completed as possible. When that's the case, the demo is no longer for the benefit of the Product Owner but instead for the stakeholders outside of the team.
When I train & coach teams, I actively encourage them to have the Customer/PO perform the demo. This, in turn, encourages the behaviour that the Customer is actively engaged with the team and that the work is truly done to the Customer's satisfaction such that they can present it to the stakeholders. Since the Customer either is from or represents the business, the work completed is presented from that business perspective rather than from the team's technical perspective. Being able to speak the same language as the stakeholders is a key aspect of this.
Of course, there is no absolute rule here. I've seen many demos where the Customer sets the stage and the team members do the hands-on part. For example, early in a system's development a development tool may be used to show that some background process worked because the stories behind that functionality had higher priority than the stories that would allow the system to show the results of the process. The Customer may not know how to use the tool, but a team member does!
I've also seen demos performed by the team where the Customer is seeing the work for the first time at the demo, and they have gone just fine. I've seen Customers who are more technical-facing than business-facing micromanage the work that the team is doing. I've seen Customers who are completely disengaged and don't even show up to the demos, complaining many iterations later that the system doesn't do what they want.
In general, though, if your Customer or Product Owner is business-facing then I have found that work flows much more smoothly when that Customer is actively engaged with the team and is the person performing the demos.
I'm very interested in your thoughts... please comment!