Lessons in Scrum: Sneak Previews and Test Screenings

We’ve been trying to use Scrum to manage our software development for the last six months. It’s work as far as we have let it (or as far as others let it), and I’m slowly clueing in to what should raise red flags in my Scrummified brain.

Recently the customer (chicken!) requested to schedule a couple of demos over the course of a sprint. I became very concerned.

Giving the customer demos at the sprint mid-point will encourages the customer to give feedback with the expectation of immediate implementation and delivery by the end of the sprint. We cannot sustainably support that. If the customer really wants a peek into what is coming in the next sprint delivery, then perhaps a demo at the end of the sprint development and before the testing and production deployment would work.

To borrow a movie analogy, we must maintain the difference between a test screening, and a sneak preview. The test screening, when a movie is shown for a small audience who gives feedback, is used when the movie is still being made. The sneak preview, when a film that is finished is shown before it is distributed, is used to generate excitement and approval for the finished movie.

In Scrum, a test screening should occur after a delivery & during planning for the next sprint. That is the time for customer feedback that results in products implemented in a sprint. A sneak preview should occur during a sprint in order to consolidate customer buy-in and get them excited about what is coming.

I want to make sure that the demo schedule during a sprint is a sneak preview and not a test screening.

March 30th, 2008 | Discipline, Scrum, Transparency | No comments