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Feedback Loops are an important aspect of an Agile Scrum Project. The Scrum framework is built around the practice inspect and adapt feedback loops. Inspection, adaption, and updates happen throughout the lifecycle of product delivery. There are two feedback loops:

  • Feedback by roles: Sponsor -> Stakeholder -> Product Owner -> Scrum Master -> Scrum Team
  • Process Feedback: Vision and Goals -> Product Backlog -> Sprint Planning -> Sprint Review -> Sprint Retrospective.

Feedback Loops: Feedback by Roles

Each role in the Agile Scrum framework has a responsibility for honoring the inspect and adapt feedback loop.

  • Sponsor – A project sponsor is tasked with being the champion for delivery of a product, project or program. This individual will communicate the initial vision, goals and objectives to the respective stakeholders who will own the product once it is live. The sponsor will also work directly with the product owner to validate that proposed features are in line with expectations. The sponsor can embed themselves further in the feedback loop by participating in the sprint retrospective where a demo of the features delivered in each sprint is provided.
  • Stakeholders – Stakeholders are key individuals who provide additional input to the Scrum Product Owner about the product features. These individuals also “own” the product once it is released as a shippable product. Stakeholders are encouraged to participate in sprint reviews to provide feedback to the product owner.
  • Product Owner – The product owner is the centre of communication. This person is responsible for ensuring that all features are defined and aligned to the vision of the product. The product owner communicates directly with the Agile Scrum Master and scrum team. They define and, prioritise features for each sprint and approve features for the end user. It is the product owner who continues the feedback loop by working with the stakeholders and sponsors. They work together to determine if all features identified in the backlog are required to produce a viable product.
  • Scrum Master – The scrum master is responsible for facilitating the ceremonies and guiding the Scrum Development Team. They guide the team in adhering to the principles of Agile Scrum delivery. The scrum master works closely with the product owner and scrum team. They ensure that features are broken into viable user stories that can be delivered as shippable units. The scrum master is also responsible for managing the portion of the feedback loop where impediments arise. These impediments could inhibit delivery for the scrum team if they are not resolved.
  • Scrum Team –The scrum team is responsible for the delivery of the shippable user stories. They provide feedback on the viability of user stories. The Scrum Team define the number of story points needed to complete a deliverable. They provide advice on the viability and alignment of features. This is the team who facilitates the product owner, stakeholders and sponsor through the user story demonstration after each sprint. They do this to encourage user feedback and feature adaption requirements.

Feedback Loops: Feedback by Ceremonies and Processes

Each role in the Agile Scrum framework has the responsibility for owning portions of the ceremonies and processes in the inspect and adapt feedback loop.

  • Vision and Goals – A clear vision and SMART goals are required to set the direction for delivering the product. The vision statement is often created as part of the pre-project. Stakeholders are defined, why the product is required and some of the high-level features to be delivered. Goals need to be SMART:
    • Specific
    • Measurable
    • Attainable
    • Realistic and
    • Time Bound.

Artefacts and Ceremonies

The vision should be displayed so that all team members keep it foremost in their minds. Goals should be reviewed frequently against the defined features.

  • Product Backlog – the product owner will translate the vision, goals and objectives into a set of desirable product features. These features are translated into epics (groupings of multiple requirements) and user stories. The product backlog should only contain features that are relevant to the product to be delivered. These features are ordered by value to the business. The backlog will be refined during one or more product backlog refinement sessions. This is to eliminate features that are no longer required. This part of the feedback loop provides continuity between the vision and goals and what the team is tasked with delivering.
  • Sprint Planning – At the start of each sprint there is a ceremony to review features for inclusion in the sprint. The most valuable features in the backlog are reviewed first to ensure that they are well-defined user stories. The stories are then estimated using story points. Sprint planning ensures that the product owner has feedback on the accepted features. They can communicate this feedback back to other stakeholders and the sponsor.
  • Sprint Review –The sprint review is the portion of the feedback loop where the scrum team provides a demonstration of features. The product owner can evaluate whether the user stories delivered match product expectations. The sponsor and other stakeholders are encouraged to attend. If a user story is incomplete or has not been delivered to the satisfaction of the product owner then they are returned to the product backlog. All items accepted can be moved into production state ready for release.

Our Favourite Agile Books

We found these books great for finding out more information on Agile Scrum:

Feedback Focus

The two loops for Agile Scrum feedback focus on the key roles, ceremonies and processes that ensure success in delivering a shippable product. This product must meet the product vision and goals. Repeated inspect and adapt loops provide team members with an opportunity to re-evaluate feasibility of feature delivery. The feedback loop provides the organization with early and frequent contact.

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