Along with the sprint review meeting, the sprint retrospective meeting is held at the end of each sprint. It is time-boxed up to three hours and is attended by all the development team members, the ScrumMaster, and the Product Owner.
What is discussed in the Retrospective Meeting?
The purpose of the sprint retrospective meeting is for the development team to discuss what went well during the just completed sprint and what did not. At this meeting, each team member should first answer those two questions as it pertains to him or her. The ScrumMaster should write down in summary form what their answers were. It is not the ScrumMaster’s role to provide answers to things that did not go well, but rather to help the development team find better ways for the scrum process to work for them in upcoming sprints.
The goal of the retrospective is for the team members to discuss among themselves about how the work went during the last sprint so that better ways can be found to meet the project’s goals. This means the team should talk about its internal processes as well. Items for discussion might be:
- Can we improve our daily scrum meetings?
- Do we need to change any of the rules we are operating under?
- Is our communication with the Product Owner and stakeholders adequate?
- Are all stakeholders aware of our progress?
It is important to learn of and solve problems as they occur. It is an ongoing process of improvement from sprint to sprint. Once the project is done, it is too late to find out how it could have been done in a better way. The project may have been completed, but most likely it came in late and over budget.
A very good analogy of what you hope to accomplish in a retrospective meeting is what a football team hopes to accomplish in its Monday morning tape review of the weekend’s game. Whether they won or lost the team is looking for how it could have executed or defended better. In short, what do they as an individual or team need to change or alter to have a better chance of winning the next week.
Product Backlog Maintenance
Because of the discussions and interactions in both the sprint review and retrospective meetings, there should be adds, changes, and deletes made to the product backlog. Any new additions to the product backlog will usually be high priority items to be done in the next sprint. They may be items that were supposed to be completed during the last sprint but for some reason were not, or some may be labeled as nonfunctional meaning that the work is essential for the well-being of the overall project’s success but will not lead directly to a new product or service.
Attendance and Distributed Teams
A final point is that attendance at sprint review and retrospective meetings is not optional to development team members. Regular face to face attendance should not be a problem for collocated teams. However, for geographically distributed development teams, getting together in the same location, while possible, would be very expensive and impracticable. Conference telephone calls can be set-up as a substitute to face to face meetings.
Coming up with the best solution for distributed teams to physically meet and work together is very important in all scrum meetings and should be a key managerial concern. Distributed development teams never perform as well as a collocated team, but since it is not always possible, organizations must find ways to help distributed teams work as best they can.
Agile Methodology that Works Best for Your Organization's Needs
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