Sprint Review vs. Sprint Retrospective – Key Differences Explained EasySprint Review and Sprint Retrospective are both essential stages in Sprint, but they both have different goals and outcomes. Keep reading this article to learn more about the key differences.
In Scrum, Sprint is a timeboxed event where the team works on one part of the product, whether it is a bug fix, feature enhancement, new feature, or anything else. Sprint is an essential activity in Scrum that helps the team to have a more dedicated focus while stakeholders have a clear glimpse of the progress. A Sprint usually involves 4 main stages, i.e., Sprint Planning, Daily Scrum, Sprint Review, and Sprint Retrospective. Both the Sprint Review and Sprint Retrospective are executed at the end of the Sprint, which often confuses Scrum teams and even makes them skip one of the meetings. However, the purpose of Sprint Review and Sprint Retrospective is completely different. The Sprint Review is for the product, while Sprint Retrospective is for the process. So, let's discuss in detail both these meetings and highlight their key differences.
Sprint Review is a formal meeting that is conducted at the end of the Sprint where the results of the Sprint are discussed. In this meeting, the Product Owner, Scrum Master, development team, and stakeholders participate to discuss the accomplishments of Sprint and whether all the goals are achieved. So, the Scrum team presents the work they completed in the Sprint and the stakeholders provide the feedback.
The key activities involved in a Sprint Review are:
- Product demonstration.
- Discussion and feedback collection.
- Product backlog update.
However, a Sprint Review should be more than just a product demonstration and feedback collection because the key stakeholders are present. Therefore, the Scrum team should have a more comprehensive discussion about the product. So, a complete/productive Sprint Review meeting mostly involves the following activities:
- Scrum team showcases the product increment completed in the current Sprint.
- The development team mentions the issues it faced during the execution of the Sprint and how it addressed the issues.
- Stakeholders ask questions and provide feedback.
- Product Owner updates the team about the completed tasks and missing ones.
- Scrum team discusses the next tasks to focus on.
- Product Owner and Scrum team update the product backlog, including adding/modifying user stories, estimating user stories (via Planning Poker, Async Poker, or other methods), and re-prioritizing user stories.
In short, the Sprint Review evaluates the Sprint outcome and sets the track for the next Sprint Planning.
Sprint Retrospective is an informal and last Sprint meeting, so it is conducted after Sprint Review. In this meeting, the Product Owner, Scrum Master, and development team participate. The agenda of this meeting is to enhance the team's productivity and improve the development process. Therefore, the meeting participants discuss what operations are working well, what are the improvement areas, and how to improve in order to enhance the productivity and development process.
The key activities involved in a Sprint Retrospective are:
- Check previous commitments of retrospective.
- Review the practices and processes followed in the current Sprint.
- Discuss what went well, what went wrong, what problems faced/resolved, etc.
- Discuss how to improve processes.
- Pick the most-rewarding solutions and prioritize them.
Overall, Sprint Retrospective is an opportunity to have a constructive meeting in which the Scrum team can brainstorm to improve the development process and enhance the quality of deliveries under a productive work experience.
By now, you must have realized the main difference between Sprint Review and Sprint Retrospective, but let's clear it out further with other key differences, as follows:
From the above discussion, you can see that the participant structure in both meetings is different. Since the focus of Sprint Review is on the product, so it involves Product Owner, Scrum Master, development team, and business stakeholders. Basically, it comprises two groups of participants, i.e., the Scrum team and stakeholders. However, the Sprint Retrospective is conducted to enhance the process, so only the Scrum team is involved in the meeting. This means the participants involve Product Owner, Scrum Master, and the development team. There is no involvement of stakeholders in this meeting.
The length of the Sprint Review and Sprint Retrospective is different. For a month-long Sprint, the duration of the Sprint Review goes for max four hours. However, its length can vary from one to four hours depending on the Sprint length. So, if the Sprint is just two weeks, then the meeting might get completed in one hour. However, the Sprint Retrospective is conducted after the Sprint Review and involves discussion on processes instead of the product, so its length is shorter than Sprint Review. Mostly, the length of the Sprint Retrospective is three hours for a month-long Sprint.
Although both the Sprint Review and Sprint Retrospective meetings are conducted after the targeted work of the Sprint is completed, they focus on completely separate deliverables. The output of Sprint Review is to have a refined product backlog that now has re-prioritized user stories that the team is going to work on in the next Sprint. However, the output of Sprint Retrospective is to have an action list that includes the steps that the team must follow in the next Sprint to improve the delivery process and productivity.
The role of the Scrum Master is different in both meetings. In the case of Sprint Review, the role of the Scrum Master is to keep track of the time, ensure the participants keep the focus on main goals, ensure the meeting is productive, and similar other attributes. However, the Scrum Master in Sprint Retrospective meeting plays a role of a team member, not a facilitator.
Sprint Review involves both the Scrum team and stakeholders, so the meeting is more formal. The Scrum team intends to professionally present the outcomes of the Sprint, answer the questions of the stakeholders, and openly hear their positive/negative feedback. Overall, the gesture of a Sprint Review is a formal meeting. However, the Sprint Retrospective meeting is within the Scrum team, so it is more like a fun and informal meeting. Everyone openly shares their thoughts, resulting in a positive and friendly meeting session.
Sprint Review and Sprint Retrospective have different sets of benefits. For Sprint Review, the benefits include:
- In-depth analysis of Sprint outcomes
- More collaboration between the Scrum team and stakeholders
- Improved responsiveness to the requirements of stakeholders
- Better quality products
- Clear direction for the next Sprints
For Sprint Retrospective, the benefits include:
- Collaborative and communicative environment
- Facilitate transparency
- Pinpoint issues earlier
- Highlight process improvements
In short, Sprint Review benefits are more tailed towards the product, while Sprint Retrospective benefits are more tailed towards the process and the team.
Sprints are the core part of Scrum-based development, so both Sprint Review and Sprint Retrospective are also vital. But new Scrum teams often get confused with both of these meetings. In most cases, the Sprint Retrospective meeting is skipped or conducted within the Sprint Review session. However, the goal and output of both these meetings are different, as discussed above. So, to sum up our discussion, we conclude by saying that Sprint Review and Sprint Retrospective are essential stages in a Sprint and must be conducted rightly and separately to extract the true essence of them.