The business value of an Agile Retrospective

Are you aware of how much value does your work add-up? An Agile team should always keep an eye on how much value it delivers during each sprint. This concept is included in the first principle of the Agile Manifesto, stating the top priority is to satisfy “customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.”

Think outside of Software Development: Business Value is vital in overall Product, Project Management, and beyond. There is not, however, a single way to measure Business Value. Still, you should add it as a critical parameter to review during your Restrospective sessions, as you want to learn how to deliver more value in less time. Let’s take a dip in the topic.

Topics to check:

  1. Defining Business Value

  2. The Business Value of Retros

  3. Boosting-up your Retrospective Sessions

Defining Business Value

We like Robbin Schuurman’s answer to the question “What is Value?”. He suggests that it comes in many forms, is context-dependent, and may change over time. The idea of value being always different makes sense due to the nature of a world in constant change, where user and customer trends keep evolving. To always know what value means for your project, you must know your objectives during that sprint or phase.

For example, while developing an app, tasks that add more value at an early phase may be focused on the technical setup. We can expect Business Value to change after the first version has been deployed, maybe due to bug leaks or user feedback.

That said, Business Value bases on the correct Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Checking back on the Software Development example, you may look at the velocity during the first stages, calculated as the number of User Stories completed during an Iteration. But then, after a Minimum Viable Product is released, you might keep the Defect Leakage as a critical KPI, as mitigating bugs in production is now a priority.

Tune-up your velocity calculation skills with these takeaways by Anatoly Spektor, Agile Consultant & Founder of Define Agile.

But not everything is Software Development. We can think of it in the context of a marketing plan where the goal is to promote the market adoption of a video player app. During the ideation stage, most value can be delivered by budget calculation or market research as you prepare the ground. In contrast, content generation and special offers campaigns could add more value to your organization and the customer at a more advanced phase after launching the app.

The Business Value of Retros

We have talked about it at a high level, but it is essential to know how Retrospectives add value to the overall project when it comes to Agile Ceremonies. It is not about proving to your manager that holding a Retro at least once at the end of each Sprint is not a waste of time. It is about your team getting Action Items as a concrete outcome.

For Ben Linders, co-author of the book Getting Value out of Agile Retrospectives, coming up with Action Items tends to be more successful when those selected are feasible and few. It is a no-brainer: Limiting your Items will give you more time and staffing to complete them. We would also suggest making sure the tasks get done. Otherwise, they might go overdue, potentially causing deadlines to be missed and affect your budget.

Learn more on how to effectively follow-up on Action Items in another of our blog posts.

You might find that a reliable KPI to understand the Business Value of your Agile Retrospectives is the number of Action Items that were effectively completed or dropped during the next sprint. This insight should serve the team to improve their processes, so imagine getting a task drop-rate of 4 out of 5: It could tell you that you are not selecting the correct Action Items to follow-up. But how to calculate it is up to your team.

Boosting-up your Retrospective Sessions

If you are a beginner, you should look at our tips on getting started with Retros in this post. On the other side, if you have experience conducting them, we think you could start using a specialized tool that can make your Ceremonies more engaging and insightful for your team. Especially since the remote and hybrid work models boom seems to be spreading amongst more companies and industries, cloud-based apps can make work easier for everybody.

Our recommendation is to pick up Agile Retrospectives. Developed in-house, it is a solution for teams that want to take their Retros to the next level, based on our own experiences and needs. This add-on, available both for Jira and Confluence, is a game-changer when it comes to improve the way you hold your sessions.

As you guessed, going through all the phases of Setting the Stage, Gathering the Data, Generate Insights and Decide What to Do can be quickly done with this add-on. One great thing is that it is also simple to connect to your project in Jira or Confluence, so it will not disrupt team workflows in any way. Its playful yet professional UX will draw everybody’s attention since the start and will help you keep the Action Items on the radar.

Get the free 30-day trial and see how your Retros become shorter, more exciting, and productive. Save time and achieve more.

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