The effective retrospective
Over the past 5 years, the only consistent meeting at FXStreet IT Department has been the bi-weekly Friday’s retrospective. We have missed only a few and only for major reasons. I consider the ultimate tool to communicate, receive feedback, and align the team now and then.
This article aims to share insights about what we do every 15 days. This version of our retrospective is the result of 5 years of constant changes and it will probably change in the future.
Furthermore, I will explain how to tweak this meeting for non-tech teams, maybe some of the parts have to be missed out but the majority of them apply for everybody.
Always be prepared
As a manager or scrum master is your responsibility to run this meeting and be prepared. I create a presentation for every retrospective, it helps me to remember all the points to review and visualize better where we are.
I like the top-down approach, so firstly give an overview of how the company is doing, if any relevant news has occurred, or simply take advantage to share communication from the company.
At FXStreet we run a General Meeting every two weeks that is attended by everyone. However, team retrospectives are a more “safe” environment where you can stress some points and people can ask openly and express their opinions.
Next on the list, we review the general status of the company’s current projects. Since we are an online company, the IT department has a high weight in the projects that we do. Here we can discuss internal priorities, communication issues between teams, etc..
For non-tech teams that not work in projects is a good time to review what other departments are doing so keep it in your retro.
This year we have integrated the OKRs in the company. Every department designs their own based on the company ones. In this slide, we track down the progress of these objectives discussing any problem arisen during the last 15 days.
SCRUM status and review
This slide shows the current IT sprint, things that are finished, things that we did not finish. Every member explains user stories completed or missed, the problems found, or a small demo about what has been done.
For non-technical teams, it is a good time to review all the actions or work accomplished during the past 2 weeks.
At the IT Department, we run backlog meetings every Thursday, so with all the stories already discussed is just a matter of distribution of tasks. This slide presents the work for the next 2 weeks and we usually discuss who takes what, as you can see in the picture I present every developer with a cartoon and every user story with an icon. Usually, the user stories are not assigned from the beginning we discuss who takes what.
Based on the popular table game, all the pieces that make the software systems to run have to be in good shape. Here we discuss three things:
- Outages and bugs
- Services performance
- Integration test status
This is usually a very important part of the meeting and if it has been a shaky sprint some actions will pop up during the last part of the retrospective.
Non-tech teams have always parts that needed to be reviewed in order to assure the quality so take advantage of this slide to arise them. For the Marketing department maybe is the KPIs of the campaigns, for Administration could be errors in the calculations, etc..
Being a cross-functional team implies that everybody should be responsible or at least aware of the full stack in our department. Here I present the evolution of the cost with our service cloud provider (Microsoft Azure) so we can make decisions.
A long time ago I wrote an article about a little experiment that we run over 2 months. After the experiment, I decided to keep this metric and present it at the end of every sprint. Green has been a good day, blue normal and red a bad one.
Previous retrospective commitments
In this slide, we present the previous retrospective commitments to see if we have solved them. The retrospective is based on continuous improvement (Kaizen) culture, if the outcomes of this meeting do not take seriously it is just a waste of time for everybody. Make sure that at least part of the commitments gets planed in the following sprints.
Here we quickly overview the average time per story point and the amount of time we spent in each feature, this is important to take into account future deviations and baselines.
After these slides is time to discuss how the sprint went. We don’t do anything fancy we just create a normal board and let the people talk. Now that we are remote working we use the online tool fun retro for its simplicity.
Once the retro is finished I email all the participants the slides together with an email that summarizes the work done over the past 15 days.