Should Sprints End on a Monday?

Last week was the final week of a sprint and things were starting to get emotional. We were running out of time and probably the only reason we made it was that people were staying late to finish up stuff. The last day before the sprint demo, we were testing three forms, praying that we wouldn’t find anything that would need fixing and push us into another round of testing.

We were mighty lucky. No major bugs were found, and we only had to do a second round of testing on one form before I could leave on Thursday around 8pm – and out of the four of us I was the first to leave.

Then again, the sprint demo went really well. Everything worked, we could answer all questions, we were prepared, we had a list of bugs that we knew were there but couldn’t do anything about it. Two small bugs popped up during the demo, but that was okay and the sprint was successfully signed off by the product owner.

That was a Friday. We usually have the demo in the morning and the retrospective in the afternoon. However, the team was pretty exhausted, and I was fighting headaches, so I asked for the retrospective to be moved to Monday.

Today we had the retrospective and it went well. We could focus on the problems we had and come up with action items to help us avoid those in the future – just what you should get out of a retrospective. In fact, I personally think it was one of the best retrospectives we had.

I wonder whether it would have gone equally fine if we had dragged our sorry tired behinds to a retrospective after two long nights and nearly one and a half hours of sprint demo. There were a couple of not-so-nice things that had happened during these last days and I still felt pretty emotional about those. I can do pretty well with sucking things up, but a retrospective is all about talking about what went on during a sprint, so I wasn’t sure how well I would hold up.

My feeling is that while you should absolutely do a retrospective right at the end of a sprint it might be a good idea to do it on a Monday instead of a Friday. There’s a whole weekend between the last day of the sprint and the retrospective and it can definitely help calming things down. A weekend gives you time to let go of all the emotional stuff and get a bit of distance while still keeping memories fresh enough for a productive retrospective.

This leads to another idea. What about a sprint demo on a Monday? This could have two advantages:

1. The sprint team and everyone else involved can come in refreshed after the weekend, possibly with more energy than they would have on a Friday.

2. If the team runs into the unfortunate situation of not getting it done, they still have the option of working on the weekend. I know this is not something that people like to do, but in some cases working a Saturday might still seem like the better option than failing a sprint. Basically, having a weekend between the last day of the sprint and the sprint demo gives the team two days they could use if things go very wrong.

I wonder if this is worth a try for the next sprint. If we actually do change the schedule, I’ll keep you posted on whether it really makes a difference (and – if yes – whether it actually is better).

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