End of Iteration Demos: In Scrum the measure of progress is working software!

Modern Project Management defines project progress in many interesting, complex, sometimes useful and sometimes erroneous ways.  From earned value to estimate to complete there is no shortage of thoughts on this always pertinent project management topic.  One of the many simple and effective aspects of the Scrum process is that the key measure of project progress is measured by working software.  This may seem as basic as to almost be taken for granted.  Nevertheless it is remarkable what clear focus can produce, and what a lack of clear focus also produces.

Therefore sprint progress is continuously evaluated thru ongoing software demos by the scrum team.  This simple and transparent activity eliminates surprises, facilitates user story acceptance and provides immediate feedback from the product owner and SME’s to the scrum team.

There are many practices associated with ongoing sprint demos, but the following best practices have been successful in the past and are worth considering:

  • Periodic and / or weekly demos:  Having a re-occurring and predictable demo schedule helps the whole team focus on what is being produced each period, as well has helps the product owners keep up with what is being produced and helps them and the team with the acceptance process.
  • Demo scripts and dry runs: For each sprint scenario, the team develops a step by step script (like a script in a play) then will help define all aspects of the final iteration scripted demo. These scripts will include test the details of the test scenarios, each step in the processing and checking in the demo, who will execute the demo, etc. etc. In preparation for the final demo, the team will perform “dry runs” or rehearsals, just like practicing for the opening night of the play.  These dry runs are performed as many times as required, until they are completed end to end without any errors or issues.
  • Demo Day: Finally the big day has arrived and the excitement that the whole team feels the day of the demo is palatable.  In fact the “opening night” analogy is a good one!
  • Celebrating a successful Demo:  After a successful demo, the team is in a mood to celebrate, and celebrate they should!  Whether it is a pizza lunch, a group hug, dinner offsite or what ever, nothing helps the team building and bonding process like celebrating a team success together as a team. This is very cool and should not be overlooked or minimized!

Nothing breeds success like success and nothing builds credibility and trust with product owners and stakeholders like working software! It is so cool seeing the faces and reactions of product owners as they begin to consistently see working software produced demo after demo and sprint after sprint.  Before long these product owners become the biggest supporters of the scrum team and the scrum process. As they adjust to the rhythm of a sprint (sprint planning, daily stand ups, periodic demos, dry runs and then demo day), they become super productive and much more confident and satisfied with their own role and the results produced for their efforts!

Cheers and regards, PR