How to involve your users in the Sprint Review?

Sharing my experience as an Enterprise Agile Coach and Product Owner

Anca Onuta
5 min readMay 24, 2020
Agile product strategy: small fish in big pond vs big fish in small pond.
Our approach with Discord-Jira Bot: Orli Scrum bot

How to get the early product adopters feedback during the Sprint Review during your Agile Software Development Journey?

The teams I Agile Coach often ask me how we can get our users to be part of the Sprint Review when the users don’t want to be bothered with a product that’s not ready?

Build first the functionalities they need most.

For those of you who read my articles for the first time, I’m Agile Coach and Product Owner of Amy — AI Project Management Bot for Discord Jira integration. I’m helping bit corporations to scale Agile and small software development companies to be efficient and profitable using Agile. Follow me on Medium for more insights on Agile.

Why do you need to involve the users in the Agile Software Development of your Product?

I’ve been this job for a while now. I’ve seen many successful and unsuccessful entrepreneurs and big corporations product teams. I can tell you from the only reason you need to involve your users: you de-risk your project and product.

I’ve started my career around 2010 in big corporations. Trust me; I applied all the best practices I worked day and night to make things perfect. I involved everyone, taking even the worst critics, I was trying to do the things the right way. I involved experiments, subject matter experiments that were world leaders, users. But you know what? Every time there at this moment, just before going live, that the bugs and issues and reality was showing up. It was the bomb explosion moment — bugs everywhere, lots of tension, blaming, egos, politics. Initially, I thought you just need to do better next time. Learn. Grow. WRONG.

Today I’m not playing this game anymore.

Today I help the teams I work with to identify the first one problem they can resolve for their niche target audience. If you build a product, you want your users who provide you feedback during the Sprint Review to start using your product. The added value of Agile is when you get your users to use a product that is not “done”, but you add functionalities each sprint. That’s the challenge!

There are two product strategy approaches I’ve seen work:

1. Be the big fish in a small pond. Identify a niche of your target clients and introduce your product to them. Grow your product in the small pond and keep on enlarging your pond as you grow your product. The challenge here is to grow fast and sustainable. This strategy is used mainly by startups.

2. Be the small fish in a big pond. You start with your most challenging and most client, eventually replacing an existing product. But before your users use your new product, they need to get more functionalities than what they have, or functionalities they don’t have yet. It is a challenging position as the expectations are very high, and the market feedback is minimal. It is a preferred strategy for big corporations.

In both situations, your target would be to maybe become the only fish in the pond and your product to become the market leader product.

Market leader fish of a big pond

Independent of your product strategy, here’s what you need to do to get your users to come and feedback to the sprint review:

  1. Get down there and meet your users. You need to be where your clients are. You must know their names, their hobbies, their universe. You must be their friend. When you are a small fish in the big pond, the personal relationship you have with your users might be the only advantage you have to get them to look to your product.
  2. Build the features they need, not in the user workflow. One of the common mistakes I see Product Owners do is that they build a product in the order of the user flow. Agile works if you give the highest value first.
  3. Use wisely their time and make them feel they learned or earned something. I’m sure your users are very busy people. If you, as a Product Owner, want them returning to the sprint reviews, you better maximize each minute they spend in the team.

With Amy-AI Project Management with Discord — Jira integration, we decided to be the big fish in the small pond. We identify the niche of software developing companies that use Discord and Jira free plan. On Monday 25th of May 2020, we are starting our first sprint, and we want to offer (for free) to all the teams that need the Discord Jira bot. If you are part of such a team, please subscribe here.

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