The last entry in my Going Agile series will look at the retrospective meeting.
The retrospective meeting is held at the end of every sprint/iteration, and it is the time to discuss what went well, and what could be improved in the next sprints. Some people will say the Product Owner should be in attendance, and some believe the PO should not. IMHO, the PO is a part of the team, and should be there…and in our case, I was. We weren’t sure how to solicit input from the team, so we decided that everyone should take a few minutes to write down their thoughts, and then the Scrum Master would read them out. This was a good way to eliminate the classic, “I was just going to say the same thing as Bob” response. After all the responses were collected, we realized we had 3 main things to address:
1) Testing and documentation struggled…they were too heavily back-loaded
2) Code reviews were determined to be essential but weren’t being factored into estimates, etc.
3) Our team velocity was nowhere near what we thought it would be
From these things we made a few adjustments for our next sprint (again, these decisions were made by the team as a whole). Our developers stopped working on new stories 2 days before the end of the sprint, and would then focus on testing and documentation. This would help alleviate the avalanche of new functionality that would hit the testing and documentation team on Friday afternoons. Code reviews were added to the definition of ‘Done’ and were factored into to estimates. For the 3rd issue, we found one of the key issues to be that developers just weren’t given dedicated time to code, and as such, could be interrupted at any time for an impromptu meeting, or discussion, etc. We decided to implement a Do Not Disturb mode for the developers, and if they had that DND sign up in their cubicle, or on IM, then they were not to be disturbed.
The retrospective is a crucial part of the continuous improvement process, and time must be dedicated to it. The first few are extremely important since that is when the warts are most obvious, but minor tweeking may never stop.
I’ve enjoyed sharing my experiences about my first Scrum team, and I hope it may provide some ideas for your team. If you have any Agile/Scrum experiences you would like to share, I’d love to hear about them. Chances are others will stumble across the same problems at some point as well.