Don’t Skip Your Sprint Retrospectives

Making it through a sprint and meeting all of the requirements for that sprint can be enough for a team who is on a tight deadline to jump into the next sprint, without taking the time to truly review what was done in the previous sprint. However, if mistakes were made in the previous sprint and if there were issues in that sprint that caused a rush to meet the approaching deadline, what will stop these issues from happening again?

If you and your team follow Scrum techniques, then I’m sure you know about sprint retrospectives, but do you implement them? We’ve seen time and time again that for some reason, teams tend to skip the retrospectives and go through multiple iterations without properly analyzing how they did in their sprints.

Skipping a sprint retrospective can actually have a negative impact on a team’s productivity when they keep going through sprint after sprint without addressing key areas of concern. This means the team will keep making the same mistakes over and over again and increasing risks that could affect a project’s scope, timeline, and budget.

In retrospectives, a team has the ability to take the time to reflect on what they did well, what didn’t go well and how they can improve. Scrum masters and product owners are usually present for these retrospectives along with the development team. Retrospectives can be a good learning experience and help build team morale. They don’t have to be daunting. It all depends on how they are carried out.

However, they need to be structured and organized. All team members should participate and their suggestions should be recorded. Action items should also be taken out of the retrospectives indicating what the team will strive towards improving.

When it comes to conducting a retrospective, it should follow these general guidelines: 

– The facilitator will set the stage to give all team members an avenue to share.

– Focusing on accomplishments and giving kudos where they are due are good ways to start the retrospective to get all team members on a good note before addressing the issues that were experienced.

– All team members should contribute to the retrospective and add at least one item they would like to discuss from their experience in the sprint.

– The team should gain insight on the topics being discussed by outlining any problems that were experienced and breaking them up to determine the cause of the problems and how they affected productivity.

– Once the team is able to discuss their experiences from the sprint and identify the areas for improvement, the next step should be to create action items on what will be done next. The action items need to be clearly defined goals. They should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-boxed (SMART).

The flow of a retrospective is depicted in the chart below:

There is no single way to conduct a retrospective. There are a few different ways in which retrospectives can be carried out.

At the end of a retrospective, all team members should leave with clear action items in mind to implement in the next sprint to better their overall productivity. It is also important to follow up on these action items to make sure the team is volunteering to take ownership of the action items and is adapting accordingly.

References:

Agile Project Management: Importance of the retrospective. (2017, June 26). Retrieved September 15, 2017, from https://www.agile-code.com/blog/agile-project-management-importance-of-the-retrospective/

Rose, D. (2016, February 04). Agile at Work: Getting Better with Agile Retrospectives. Retrieved September 15, 2017, from https://www.lynda.com/Business-Skills-tutorials/Agile-Work-Getting-Better-Agile-Retrospectives/175961-2.html

 

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Donna Raphael-Rene
Donna Raphael-Rene
Project Manager

I have a drive and passion for development, project management, social media and music with career backgrounds in those fields. At Grata, I am the Project Manager who oversees small to large software projects. On my personal time, I have many hobbies such as I enjoy watching international dramas, I produce music, I'm a big movie buff and more.