When done right, your sprint retrospectives will help your team:
- Identify what worked well in the last sprint
- Agree on which areas can be improved for the next sprint
- And create action items for future sprints
But retros can easily get off track and feel like a waste of time. This happens when your team isn’t actively engaging in the process (which itself can be caused by several factors, such as a history of not following through on action items and having a retro where no one feels motivated to share their thoughts.).
In today’s post, we cover 4 sprint retro tools that help keep that from happening.
- Geekbot: Our free asynchronous sprint retrospective tool that works with Slack and MS Teams. You can use Geekbot to completely customize your sprint retro — this includes the questions you ask and when you ask them. (Below, we cover how an agile team uses Geekbot to run tiered, multi-day retros.)
- Whiteboards: Whiteboards are an interactive way to organize the information shared in a retro. Sometimes retros — especially synchronous ones — can come with a bit of information overload (think of your most recent brainstorming sessions). When you put feedback on a whiteboard, it’s easier to process and organize.
- Mind Maps: A mind map can help your team get in the right mindset at the beginning of the retro (or course correct a retro that’s gone off the rails).
- Team Analyzers: A retro covers the performance and effectiveness of not only processes but the people who are using those processes. This is sensitive information, as team members may avoid sharing publicly if they’re dissatisfied with their role/work. But you want to get at this information, so you can address the problem and correct it for the next sprint. Team analyzers can help you do that.
A quick note before we begin: Geekbot is also used to run daily standups (and can be used for almost any other meeting). This means you’ll have access to information that is shared by your team in those standups at your fingertips. You can take that information, identify valuable insight (such as which tasks caused the biggest headaches in the last sprint) and use it to run more insightful retrospectives. Open your free Geekbot account today.
4 Best Sprint Retro Tools
Geekbot lets you run asynchronous sprint retrospectives in either Slack or MS Teams (more on how this works below). It’s completely free for teams of 10 or fewer participants. If you have a larger team, then pricing starts at $2.5 per user per month.
Asynchronous retros come with several immediate benefits, including:
- They facilitate equal feedback. In-person retros can easily become lopsided, with a handful of participants taking over the conversation. An asynchronous format allows everyone to respond to the retro questions with equal time.
- They’re easy to schedule. Simply put: getting everyone together in the same room — or on the same call — for a retro is a logistical nightmare for most businesses. With asynchronous retros, you don’t have to worry about scheduling conflicts or figuring out different time zones.
- They’re non-disruptive. Your team can fill out the retro questions when it’s convenient for them, instead of interrupting their workflow to attend a meeting.
- Eliminate groupthink. A con of getting everyone in one room is that sometimes people will just agree with whatever someone else is saying, either to avoid conflict or just get the retro over with. That’s groupthink, and you want to eliminate it. By letting your team answer their questions privately, you get more genuine feedback, which is how you create the action items that will benefit your team the most.
How Do Asynchronous Retrospectives Work with Geekbot?
Geekbot sends the retrospective questions to your team via a direct message. Once your team answers the questions, our bot shares their responses to a public or private channel of your choosing.
Per the below image, teammates can optionally create a Slack thread, and discuss how to improve future sprints or other parts of the process.
There is another effective way to run remote retrospectives with Geekbot, as we discuss below.
Customer Success Story: Running Tiered Retrospectives that Take Place Over Multiple Days
Geekbot is fully customizable, letting you edit the questions you ask, when you hold your meetings, and more.
Here’s an example of how your team can customize their retro with Geekbot.
As we’ve written more extensively here, Danny Varner (the Director of Engineering at Vacasa), uses Geekbot to run tiered retrospectives that take place over multiple days. Their schedule looks like this:
On day one, they collect data.
On day two, they take a look at insights.
The facilitator of the team’s retrospective summarizes all the common data points shared on day one:
Then, the facilitator puts them in a poll for everyone to vote on.
On day three, decide what to do.
On day four, make commitments and close the retro
Implementing a tiered retrospective format like this would be incredibly inefficient if you were holding in-person meetings. They’d be a scheduling nightmare, and it’d also be a challenge to keep your team on track and make the meetings as non-disruptive as possible.
For more info on how to successfully stagger the retrospective into multiple days (and its benefits) read this article: Exact Process to Run Remote Retrospectives Asynchronously
With Geekbot, You Eliminate Scheduling Issues
With Geekbot, team members fill out their answers when it’s convenient for them. You don’t have to worry about calendar clashes or reaching out to your team at a bad time.
You can also have Geekbot factor each user’s local timezone. For example, if you have a remote team with developers across the globe, then you can schedule your retro for 11:00 AM your time. Then Geekbot will send out the retro questions to every developer at 11:00 AM their time, no matter where they are.
An additional benefit of using Geekbot — our bot can optionally follow up with your team if they forgot to fill out their responses within a certain amount of time. This keeps your retros on track, increasing the participation rate.
Start Your Free Account Today
Geekbot is completely free for teams of 10 or fewer. If you have a larger team, you can get started with a free trial. After the free trial is over, you can pick a monthly or annual plan.
- Monthly plan — $3 per user per month
- Annual plan — $2.5 per user per month
Use Geekbot Alongside Other Sprint Retro Tools
Many agile teams use a combination of tools (such as Geekbot to facilitate their sprints and then online whiteboards to list out the next steps).
Below, we look at other leading types of tools you can use to run value-driven retros that will encourage continuous improvement.
Retros are full of good info, but it can be hard to keep track of everything that’s shared (especially if you’re running a synchronous retro). You can use whiteboards to help you organize everyone’s feedback into actionable steps for the next sprint.
Even if your retros are remote, you can still use a digital whiteboard. We listed some options below.
3. Mind Maps
Mind maps can help your team get in the right mindset as you’re starting your retro (or if you ever feel like your retro is getting off-topic and the feedback you’re getting isn’t helpful).
To do a mind map in person, you’ll need:
- Something to write with.
- A way to distinguish branches from the main concept. These can be colored sticky notes or different colored markers on the whiteboard.
- Someone to run the mind map (most likely your Scrum Master).
You can also do mind maps remotely, using tools like the ones below:
4. Team Analyzers
A big challenge — especially with remote teams — is keeping a gauge on how your team is feeling throughout the sprint. It’s difficult to pinpoint when your team is most stressed, overwhelmed, or operating at their lowest level of productivity.
That’s why when running retros with Geekbot, we encourage including a question such as “How do you feel?”
Geekbot will take your team’s answers and chart them along a Team Happiness graph. In the image below, you can see that out of 14 folks, two reported that they were unhappy or otherwise unsatisfied.
Once you have that info, you can be proactive and get to the bottom of it. Why is a significant percentage of your team unhappy? You can look over previous sprint responses to see if there were any big issues, disputes, or delays that may have caused a drop in team morale.
This is key information that, without a tool like Geekbot, would be lost. Your team would go on working, but being unsatisfied in their role. That sort of dissatisfaction will eventually show up in unplanned ways — either through lackluster results or by seeing a high turnover.
You may also like:
- How We Use Geekbot to Manage a Distributed Team from Slack
- 5 Tips for Revolutionizing Your Agile Retrospectives
- The Pros and Cons of Using a Daily Huddle Template
- The Best Scrum Tools for Project Management (including Jira)
- 10 Game Ideas for Having Fun Retrospectives (from engaging icebreakers to SMART planning sessions)
- 19 Best Online Retrospective Tools
- Real-Time Look at How Geekbot’s Remote Team Meeting Software Works
- What is a Sprint Retrospective Meeting and How to Run it?
- Geekbot Integrations with Zapier to Automate Your Workflow
- Online Collaboration Tools For Remote Teams
- Geekbot Product Tour & Functionality
Frequently asked questions
How do you do a virtual retrospective?
When running remote retrospective the main goal is to ensure that you’re getting equal feedback from every member of your team. A common mistake is to focus on the feedback from the most active team members while not addressing issues raised by others. Make sure the online tool you use allows team members to provide equal feedback independently from each other.
How do I run a retrospective remote?
The way you conduct remote retrospectives will largely depend on your team communication tools. You can use either plugins for chat messengers or standalone retrospective services. After every remote retrospective ends, gather the feedback in one place and group it to unearth challenges that affect your remote team productivity and well-being.
Which is the recommended way to run a retrospective?
First, facilitate an environment where everyone can share their ideas or challenges they faced during the last sprint. Then gather feedback from every member of your team and organize similar ideas or problems in groups. Lastly, identify specific actions to address the most pressing for your team issues during the next sprint.