How Retrospective Meetings Can Improve Your Team's Software Quality Efforts
Hindsight is 20/20, but just because the past is clear, it doesn't mean that the future will be as well. In fact, many software development teams use software testing reports and retrospective meetings to better understand what happened within a particular sprint. This information can then be used to drive new focus in a project. However, a number of professionals think they won't get anything out of retrospective meetings and want to cut them out entirely. Retrospective meetings are a necessary part of project progression, and they can significantly improve your team's software quality efforts.
Lessons Learned Meetings
Retrospectives primarily exist as a means to reflect on the previous sprint and suggest improvements to ensure the next one hits on all of the necessary points. However, as Mountain Goat Software founder Mike Cohn noted, some teams believe that they are too good for retrospectives or simply don't want to bother going through them.
All teams, no matter their industry or expertise, can always identify ways to improve. Even if it means talking about shaving seconds off release times or mentioning that some tests should be evaluated for integrity, these can make all the difference when looking to bolster quality. Think about all of the lessons you learned within the sprint, such as what things should be done differently next time and what can be expanded upon. These areas can lead teams down the path toward proactive measures to make users happy when a program is first released.
Team Empowerment to Make Changes
Under agile testing methodologies and development practices, QA and coding professionals are actively encouraged to participate in decision-making processes. After engaging in lessons learned meetings, it comes time to figure out what should be done based on the presented information. TechTarget contributor Margaret Rouse noted that retrospectives and improvement decisions are team-driven, and members should feel empowered to help make positive changes. Everything from how the meetings are run to what adjustments should be made must be enacted through team choices. Organizations must build an environment of honesty and trust in order to help team members feel comfortable and create the best solutions possible.
"Regardless of what we discover, we understand and truly believe that everyone did the best job they could, given what they knew at the time, their skills and abilities, the resources available, and the situation at hand," industry expert Norman Kerth told Rouse.
Data Supports Decisions
Within a retrospective, not only will it be integral to get first-hand accounts of how the sprint went, but it will also be useful to have a visual of project progression. Empear noted that some tools can provide hotspot analysis that visualizes development activity and shows how recent work affected the code. This could be integral to keeping control over complexity and identifying what parts of the system were impacted by new features. Information from this type of asset can be useful for the entire application lifecycle management, planning improvements, extra testing, or refactorings when the deliverable impacts a major hotspot. Showing off this data during retrospectives can guide future movements and provide clarification on why certain actions were taken.
"When you use data to guide your discussions you reduce those biases; it's hard to argue with data, particularly when it's your own," Empear stated. "Use that information to focus your expertise on where it's needed the most."
Retrospectives are an integral part of development operations, and they are more important than ever in guiding teams during short sprints. These meetings enable teams to create their own solutions, making these teams more responsible for their outcomes and improving overall product quality.