First Sprint Review

Today, I organized the first Sprint Review for our project. This was not something that we had planned in advance. I did mention it a couple of weeks ago to the people in Valtech, but I did not take the time to tell the customer in advance.

Anyway, the delivery had been made the day before, and I thought it would be a good, Scrum-friendly idea to get the customer (that is, their Project Manager, plus the testing team) to look at our application in a controlled environment before they start playing with it on their own machines.

For this, I contacted 3 people outside our Team, mentioning that any other people would be welcome:
– their Project Manager (not a Product Owner)
– our own Project Manager (not a ScrumMaster… but could be called Delivery Manager, though there is another person who might be with that role on our side)
– the head of the client testing team (you would call him the Product Owner; we consider him that way, though he does not know it)

The reaction:
– our Team (3 persons) agreed it would be useful to give it a try
– their Project Manager liked the idea, and mentioned that he would join, but didn’t
– our Project Manager didn’t mind either way; by chance, she was in the room at that time and kept a distracted ear open, but worked on other things
– disappointingly, the Head Tester (our Product Owner) was not interested at all. He kept refering to the fact that any live demo will not be as committing as the Release Notes and other documents. I did make the point that it would make it easier for us to convey information, and also that we will happy to have a live reaction on our work (I didn’t say that it might also make it easier for us to make them swallow some shortcomings). Still, he didn’t care. However, he did talk with the other 2 people in his team, and they agreed to come over.
Important note: this Head Tester (“Testing Head”? ;-) ) is *not* an employee of our customer. In fact, he is himself an external contractor, which must explain why he is being this rigid, by-the-book (or rather by-the-contract) guy.

The setup:
– our functional champion took over a computer that was not used for his tests. This is because the official test machines (target systems in the contract) are in fact painfully slow and we thought that they would not show the application in a good light. Also, another problem is that the Contract signed between the customer and us still referred to obsolete computers that are now being retired. So the actual computers will be much faster than the ones provided to us by the customer. Note that the testing team also uses these new machines.
– our functional champion was sitting at this machine.
– the 2 guys from the test team sat behind him.
– I got caught into looking at other things by our Project Manager, though I did manage to keep an eye on the demo most of the time.
– the last member of our Team was following the demo, standing behind (in fact, the functional guy was using his desk, so he had no choice but to watch).

The demo:
– the functional guy basically went through all of the implemented screens, commenting quickly on what had been done, and what was still missing (all information already in the Release Notes). Occasionally, the rest of the Team (the other guy and I) stepped in to provide more details that were being forgotten.
– the test guys asked about a few features that they were interested in, with a slightly derisive tone on their voice. That was not very pleasant. That said, it is probably an improvement, compared to them criticizing us on their own (presumably).
– one or two screens failed to open, which was a bit of a blow to our self-esteem.
– at the end, we asked a couple of questions, not directly related to the delivered application
– in total, it took about 30 minutes

Was it useful?
– well, most of the developers were actually missing, since they are based in Bangalore. So it certainly was not very useful to them.
– one key person (the PO) was missing.
– I believe it did help in creating a link between us and the testing team, making them ‘feel’ for the fact that they are now taking the baby in their arms
– since it is taking not very long anyway, it’s worth trying again

Possible improvements:
– get the Product Owner to come (maybe he will come by himself next time, depending on the feedback from his team)
– make the offshore team more involved by keeping a webcam open for them to see how it goes
– I sent an email to the guys who did come over (with the PO and Project Manager in copy), explaining why we did that demo, and why we’ll do it again at next delivery. With a tentative date.

About Eric Lefevre-Ardant

Independent technical consultant.
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