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Sprint Review: Going Beyond Demos

By Rafael Esquiçato
Rafael Esquiçato
Over 10 years working with tech. Agile enthusiast, team leader helping people to thrive and grow. Fan of AirJordan sneakers.
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Sprint Review: Going Beyond Demos

Context

At FARFETCH,  the Logistics cluster is composed of two engineering teams, responsible for developing the back-end services that handle the complex logistical network used by FARFETCH to deliver luxury items across the globe. 

Both teams are independent squads with specific agendas, ceremonies, initiatives and goals but they work in the same codebase. Since they share the ownership of all Logistics services, the long-term goals, concerning product development, are the same.

After some months of completely remote work, due to the COVID-19 restrictions, some problems related to the lack of communication began to appear, such as:
  • less synchronization between the engineers on team-goals interdependencies;
  • lack of knowledge sharing about major changes in the codebase;
  • lack of context in pull-request reviews (if the reviewer is not part of the same team  as the author);  
Another pain point, that was unrelated to the home-office, was the fact that there was no space for engineers to present the outcomes of their work. We usually finish our work some months before launching a new feature on the FARFETCH platform,  so until then, the result of our work stays a little bit hidden.

Proposal

To tackle some issues described above and to create a healthy space where engineers could present and receive feedback about their work, Diana Ferreira (Logistics Product Manager) proposed adding a common agile ceremony, the Sprint Review, to our agenda with both teams.

According to the Scrum Alliance:

"Sprint reviews focus on the product being developed, specifically on the potentially shippable product increment created during the sprint. During a sprint review, the Scrum Team invites stakeholders to discuss what was completed during the Sprint. They adapt the Product Backlog as needed based on this feedback. The Product Owner has the option to release any of the completed functionality. 
Though a demo might be part of this meeting, the primary purpose of the Sprint Review is the inspect and adapt capability provided by the discussion.”

First Session

At FARFETCH, we adapt tools to solve our problems rather than just including new methods in our journey. We also believe in continuous improvement, so rather than planning a perfect ceremony, we decided to start with something simple, get feedback and improve it.

At that time, both teams were working in Scrum with a sprint length of two weeks. In order to avoid meeting overload,  we started with a monthly review. 

The meeting is not a checkpoint or even a pre-requirement to deploy something in live. We usually go live as soon as a story or task is ready, once it’s been reviewed by pairs, tested manually or automatically, and approved by the product team. The demos in the monthly review are usually composed by a group of stories and tasks developed in that month that contributed to a goal or feature.

In October 2020, we had our first review meeting with this agenda:
  • Opening
  • Month review: a space to share the achievements we had in the last month: important releases, rollout updates, etc.
  • Demos
    • ItemSwap by Pedro Sousa and Eduardo Abreu
    • Merchant Read-Model by Eduardo Machado
    • Take-Rate to BI by Octávio Camargo
  • Wrap-up: a moment to present the expected work for both teams in the next month;
Members of Logistics engineering and product teams attended this first meeting.

Enhancements

Over the last few months, we’ve changed the agenda, including relevant topics according to the feedback we received:
  • Logistics support: a space to present numbers about the issues opened by Service Desk and analysed by us. The objective is to bring to the engineers the impact of their work for our partners.
  • Roadmap update: at FARFETCH, we usually have a medium term roadmap, with the initiatives we plan to work on in the next quarters. This space is used to share updates about this medium term plan whenever some initiative loses priority.
Besides that, we have some special presentations in order to improve the knowledge of our engineers about the FARFETCH platform, such as:
  • FARFETCH numbers (orders, items, partners, values) in the sales season of November (Singles Day and Black Friday);
  • Logistics Data model: Data Core team has presented how they ingest and process our data in order to create a relational model used by operations and other areas.  

Conclusion

The monthly review is now part of our journey as an important space to get all Logistics members together and synchronized about the work done and the next steps. Currently, the meetings are usually attended by our Manager and our Head, also giving the engineers an opportunity to connect with them. 

We still have some areas to improve, such as time management and finding better ways to present the work in the demos space. As I said before, we are backend teams, so having a demo with APIs and JSONs is not so user friendly and adequate for a non-technical audience. 

Before going, I want to thank all Logistics engineers that believed and saw value in the session and also to our Product Manager, Diana Ferreira, who proposed to use this ceremony and work continuously to improve it.
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