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Top things to address in retrospective meetings

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Sanjay Zalavadia
Sanjay Zalavadia's picture
Top things to address in retrospective meetings

Meetings are an essential part of any business, but for software development teams, these events can be a major driver in how to improve operations and what needs to be done next. Agile methodologies utilize retrospectives after each sprint to go over the work completed in that time and use that information to guide the next sprint's objectives. These get-togethers have become so essential because they enable continuous innovation and can help teams deliver better quality products. Here are a few things that should be on your agenda to address in retrospective meetings:

Software quality

An app is largely judged by how much it meets user requirements as well as what types of bugs appear upon release and how quickly these issues are addressed. During each retrospective meeting, teams should go over software quality, including what errors were missed and what other agile testing methodologies can be leveraged to cover these holes. Testing reports should be available to demonstrate what types of cases failed and what measures were taken to improve this element and mitigate the bug.

Quality is becoming a major priority across all software projects, and QA testers should be an active part in retrospective meetings to highlight what problems they're running into as well as how they're handling various situations. This type of interaction can reveal a need for capable testing tools and how well testers are performing with current approaches. In this way, retrospectives will give teams a chance to ensure that they're fully covering everything as well as adequately preparing to thoroughly evaluate features in the next sprint.

Acknowledge accomplishments as well as failures

It's easy to focus on just the good things or only the bad things that occurred during the sprint, but it's essential to give time to discuss both sides and learn from them. Scrum Alliance contributor Hesham Amin noted that retrospectives should be established as a safe place to express issues and ideas. Members should feel that their opinions are valued and that they are welcome to contribute.

Acknowledging accomplishments will create a positive atmosphere for the team to balance out the negatives and deliberate on how to keep these positive things happening. These achievements should be specific and can be anything from an impressive presentation to gaining insights by talking with the customer that you may not have noticed before. All of these items help to drive a better project and boost overall quality.

Teams must also talk about failures, but in a way that doesn't lay blame or implies judgment. It's important to acknowledge that something didn't go well, but invites the question of how to improve it for the next sprint. This type of interaction will breed a more positive, collaborative environment for retrospective meetings and provide members with the right mindset for making improvements.

No matter how many accomplishments or failures were encountered each sprint, teams should use these situations as guides for innovation. Groups can learn a number of things for continuing to meet goals or what can be done to fix current issues. Retrospectives will enable you to go over what can be gleaned from past accomplishments and failures and how to use this information for further improvement.

Need to have follow-up action to things that worked and didn't work

While retrospectives can help lay down long-term plans, teams will also need to establish follow-up actions to failures and accomplishments to complete in the next sprint. So if the team spent too long making a decision, the follow-up action should provide a means to streamline the decision-making process and keep the application lifecycle development schedule on track. The next retrospective would then address how these follow-up actions turned out and if further action is required.

Follow-up actions should also take advantage of potential opportunities revealed in past observations. DZone contributors Laura M. Waite and Collin Lyons noted that by understanding the facts of an observation, teams can leave room to determine how they want to make improvements in a way that will align with their long-term goals. Quality testing tools can help keep these observations and actions organized and provide real-time data on their progress.

Development and testing teams can leverage retrospective meetings to discover what areas need improvement and what they're doing well. This information will guide future strategies and enable teams to deliver the best quality product possible.

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