The Value of a Demo

Some teams don't do demos at the end of their iterations. Many of the teams who don't do demos also have trouble finishing all the stories they committed to at the beginning of the iteration. They continue, iteration to iteration, not always finishing, not getting to releaseable at the end of the iteration. And, sometimes, these teams don't do retrospectives because they are not done.

There's significant value in a demo at the end of the iteration.

  1. The demo shows the team what they have done and not done in the iteration.
  2. The demo shows the product owner/customer what they have done and not done.
  3. The demo acts a a milestone–the team has to stop what they are doing to show the demo. They can't keep going without doing a demo.

If you're not demoing at the end of an iteration, reconsider. Use the demo to get feedback, record your velocity, and see if you are done enough with this project for now, or if you really need to continue working off this backlog.

4 Replies to “The Value of a Demo”

  1. The demo is an excellent way to enforce having and using acceptance (done) criteria. While the team doesn’t need to demonstrate using those exact criteria (can choose to be creative), they do help ingrain “start with the end in mind” thinking.

  2. it’s true, I and my team have been keep demoing all the time, save a lot of time for avoiding miscommunication in the project management. It’s easy to talk on some real than on paper 🙂

  3. It’s often in the demo that it becomes apparent whether the engineers have truly understood how average users can approach a system. For example, some software developers create very processor intensive applications that run just fine on their top of the line machines, but rather less well on the 2-3 year old machines that many of their users own. I think Microsoft changed their procedure on this, to add testing on non-high-end machines. A demo, particularly if a non-expert is invited to use whatever you’ve created, is very valuable. It’s fine to add gadgets and high-end tools, but not if they are too much hassle to find, or counter-intuitive for the end user.

  4. A great point that’s often overlooked! I work at OpenView Venture Partners (, a venture capital fund that invests in expansion stage software companies.

    We have worked closely with Jeff Sutherland to get most of our portfolio companies developing software on Scrum.

    Each company has run into various issues, and the one that sticks out is where a development team built software over a number of sprints, thought it was done, and felt great about it. They had not being doing product demos.
    After 4 sprints, when the product was ready for a major release, they did an internal demo, and members of the senior management team were extremely disappointed, because it wasn’t what they expected and the release was delayed.
    Had a demo been done at the end of every sprint, and attended by the right stakeholders, they wouldn’t have an on time release and no wasted effort!

    Igor Altman

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