Why We Use Agile Retrospectives4 min read - Product Management
In this article, our Project Manager Sophie breaks down why we use agile retrospectives at Sonin. Read on to find out how we use retrospective meetings to drive collaboration and increase client satisfaction. We also ask our in-house app developers what they think of using agile retrospectives to enhance our app development process.
Here at Sonin, we are always looking to grow and develop to increase our agility and maximise the value we deliver to our customers. We believe that people are at the core of successful projects. Upholding a supportive and open culture is pivotal to ensure our team members have the confidence and trust to be communicative and honest. This helps us to increase project visibility and discover issues early.
We recognised a need to facilitate an opportunity that helps empower teams to reflect, problem solve and evolve – agile retrospectives!
How Does an Agile Retrospective Work?
Retrospectives are an Agile ceremony. They’re a team exercise providing an opportunity for us to discuss a period of work in an open and friendly environment. We discuss three areas at a high-level:
- what is working well
- what it is not going well
- what actions will we implement next.
All team members should be involved in a retrospective from design to project manager, app developers and QA. It is important that during retrospectives everyone understands it is not about reporting to the Project Manager or Product Owner – they should be reporting to the team as a whole.
This is why, even though the project manager is often a popular choice for leading retrospectives, having an independent facilitator makes for a more successful retrospective. It allows the Project Manager to be involved in the problem-solving process.
Key aspects of an agile retrospective include everyone being open, honest and constructive. It is not made personal and the focus is to improve not blame. A successful retrospective will result in a shared understanding of key learnings and required actions.
Our Retrospective Process
At Sonin, we manage development through sprints which are each an on average ten days. And after each sprint, we will conduct a retrospective. We’ll gather around a big whiteboard, each with our own set of sticky notes and whiteboard pens! We’ll then spend the first five minutes writing on sticky notes our own thoughts on what we each felt went well and what did not go well during the sprint.
After we place and group the points on the whiteboard, the remainder of the meeting involves discussion on these points, noting ideas and actions that arise. At the end of the sprint, we’ll vote on the most important actions and decide how we will implement them in the next sprint.
What Our Team Think of Retrospectives
“I appreciate the relaxed, honest and friendly environment retrospectives facilitate. They help to enhance collaboration as well as problem solve” – Our Project Manager Sophie
“I personally think it has been very useful having retrospectives. It helps the team to identify what went well, what could be improved and allows everyone to share ideas and views about processes they are following and discuss ideas that could improve their productivity.” – Our QA manager Fermisk
“Retrospectives give us an opportunity to revisit the last sprint. We can discuss what went wrong, how we can improve and identify best practices that we should continue to do.” – Our Lead App Developer Charlie
“Retrospectives sessions are a perfect opportunity to share with our peers. Constructive feedback helps us to improve and grow individually and as a team project after project.” – App Developer
What Do Agile Retrospectives Mean for Clients?
Producing quality products is our priority. Each project is unique and even thoughthe principles and values do not change, we can tailor our methods to suit both client and ourselves.
Retrospectives help us to evaluate our processes. They encourage shared understanding and increase performance. This enables us to collaborate and deliver in the best way possible. We are always happy to share and discuss our findings with clients and we are looking to involve clients in future retrospectives on an optional basis.