What is Sprint Retrospective? Purpose & When it’s Held

Sprint Retrospective

Meaning of Sprint Retrospective

Ben Linders once said, “The goal of retrospectives is to help teams to continuously improve their way of working.” It implies that agile retrospectives place power in the hands of the team, where it belongs!

The sprint retrospective is a key part of the agile process. It is a time for the team to reflect on what went well and what could be improved.

The sprint retrospective was first introduced in 1995 by James Macanufo. He was working as a consultant for an IT company that was implementing scrum at the time. 

The goal of the sprint retrospective was to provide a forum for the team members to discuss their progress and identify ways to improve it in future sprints.

According to the scrum guide, teams use the sprint retrospective to design strategies to improve quality and effectiveness. 

In most sprints, the sprint retrospective is the last thing completed. A lot of teams will do it right after the sprint review. 

The entire team should be involved, including the Scrum Master and the product owner

A scrum retrospective can last up to an hour, which is generally more than enough time.

In other words, the sprint retrospective is a periodic meeting held at the end of a sprint cycle to assess what went well and what teams can improve for the next sprint cycle. 

The scrum paradigm for designing, delivering, and managing complex projects includes an agile sprint retrospective.

What Is the Purpose of a Sprint Retrospective?

The sprint retrospective is designed to:

  • Evaluate the Sprint regarding people, relationships, processes, and tools
  • Review the aspects that are complete
  • Highlight prospective improvements that teams need to make in subsequent sprints

It also aids in creating a strategy for making the improvements above so that the scrum team is less stressed and can quickly get to work.

The purpose of this meeting is to review the work completed in the past sprint and identify improvements for the next one. 

Team members answer these questions: 

  • What went well? 
  • What didn’t go well? 
  • What can we do better next time? 
  • What did we learn from this sprint?

It also helps in determining what went wrong – why was the team unable to deliver the story points as planned? 

Is it possible that there was a problem with the process or a tool? 

Perhaps a team member was unable to complete tasks due to unforeseen circumstances? 

It’s vital to highlight that this isn’t about blaming someone or anything; instead, it’s about figuring out how to reduce risks in the following sprint.

On the other hand, it also identifies what went well – highlighting and celebrating accomplishments beyond what you initially anticipated. This boosts morale and serves as a reminder of scrum’s core values and principles.

To determine what can be improved – identifying critical takeaways from the previous sprint to improve the next sprint’s performance. 

The team should create and commit a list of action items.

And lastly, it helps to foster a healthy culture and environment and utilize sprint retrospective games, which are less formal and more enjoyable to handle the conference.

What Are the Reasons for Holding Regular Sprint Retrospectives?

Start doing retros after every sprint if your squad hasn’t done them before. Consider mid-sprint and end-of-sprint retros if your sprints are long. 

If you haven’t used sprints before, you should start with weekly or biweekly retrospectives.

You must time the retrospectives to fit the pace of the task you are evaluating.

The questions to ask yourself are:

How fast are we learning? 

How fast do we want to learn?

For new teams, the majority of agile coaches recommend starting with shorter sprints. 

Shorter sprints guarantee you don’t forget lessons, there’s no build-up of frustrations, and you have enough face time to establish a good team culture immediately.

As more teams go entirely remote, you’ll have more flexibility. 

Jumping on a video conference for more than two hours might be taxing, so you’ll probably enjoy your retros more with shorter sprints.

There are several reasons for doing so; listed below are a few:

  • It enables the staff to take a much-needed break from their labor.
  • It provides management with data to utilize in performance evaluations of team members.
  • Retrospectives are optional but allow the scrum team to analyze itself and formulate a plan for changes to be implemented during the next sprint. 
  • A well-run retrospective meeting will force the team to discuss difficulties and successes freely.

    Transparency and honesty about the good, bad, and ugly build trust among teammates.
  • Retrospectives are also an effective risk management tool since they enable the early detection of obstructions.

    If team members feel at ease addressing difficulties, they will bring potential problems to the surface sooner. This will give them more time to react and fix them.

    The meeting’s outcomes should also provide insight into how the team is progressing toward the project’s objectives. It will also indicate the team’s attitude toward reaching these objectives.
  • Teams conduct regular sprint retrospectives to ensure transparency and improve team performance.
  • Retrospective meetings, especially for a new team, benefit team building. The exercise will assist in breaking the ice and bring the team closer together if the team has never worked together before.

    Team spirit and energy levels will be boosted by discussing success stories, providing criticism, and working together to find solutions to challenges.
  • After the sprint review and before sprint planning, the scrum sprint retrospective is a time-boxed meeting.

    Its goal is to look at how the sprint that just ended went in terms of people, relationships, procedures, and tools.
  • When deciding which improvements to make, make sure you select a task owner who is willing to accept responsibility.

    The product owner should not be the exclusive bearer of accountability.

    Everyone in the team should contribute and accept responsibility. This will influence team members because they can work on relevant problems.

However, it is essential to remember that people lose respect for the process when you hold retrospectives too frequently.

It is because there is no balance between completing work and thinking about it. Finally, there is little time to put earnings into practice.

Sprint Retrospective Meeting

Usually, all development team members, the Scrum Master, and the product owner are part of the sprint retrospective team. 

Bonus: Get an in-depth understanding of a product development team and its structure and roles

The development team consists of everyone involved in the product’s design, development, and testing. Its members collectively provide various critical viewpoints for discovering process improvements from various angles.

Scrum Master facilitates the meeting and pushes the development team to improve its workflow practices within the scrum process framework. They do this so that teams can implement improvements during the following sprint. 

The Scrum Master also serves as the scrum team’s process coach, pointing out when the team is not following an agreed-upon procedure and offering ideas and expertise as needed.

Unless specifically invited, stakeholders and managers who are not directly involved with the team rarely attend a scrum retrospective. 

Instead, they attend the sprint review meeting, where the scrum team presents what they accomplished during the sprint, which frequently includes product demonstrations.

The Following Is the Plan That You Need to Follow as a Team:

  1. Exhibit (20-30 minutes)

Your team will show and tell what they’ve worked on during the sprint in this session. This is an opportunity to share knowledge and celebrate wins with the team.

  1. Acceptance of Products and Requests for Changes

It’s critical to gain owner buy-in and acceptance of the end output for any project.

Scope adjustments and reiterations will be conveyed at this point, resulting in required changes for the next sprint.

  1. What Got in the Way of You Completing Your Best Work?

What should we begin, end, edit, and keep? (5 minutes to 15 minutes)

The above is a round-robin conversation in which everyone must speak out on at least one of the three topics (start, stop or edit).

  1. Who Wants to Lead the Demo Day Preparations? 

What exactly are we going to demonstrate?

Who deserves to be recognized?
(Five minutes)

At the end of each sprint retro, set aside a few minutes to prepare for your demo day presentation.

A demo day is a sprint meeting with the firm during which each team presents the highlights and work achieved during their sprint.

Decide who and what you will give to the company or wider team during this period.

The Length of a Scrum Retrospective Meeting Can Vary Depending on the Following Factors:

  • What is the size of the team?
  • Whether the team is dispersed and requires remote meetings
  • How many will new team members need to be trained?

Sprint retrospectives, on the other hand, frequently follow this pattern:

  • A one-week sprint takes 45 minutes.
  • A two-week sprint takes 1.5 hours.
  • A three-week sprint takes 2.25 hours.
  • A month-long sprint takes 3 hours.

The Scrum Master, who facilitates the meeting, the entire scrum team, and the product manager should all be present. 

We cannot talk about PM without mentioning their best toolkit to manage daily tasks: the product management software. It is a necessary tool that everyone must sign up for.

Everyone involved in the product’s design, development, and testing is part of the scrum team. 

While some argue that the product owner should not attend because they may stifle open conversation among team members. However, they are an essential element of the scrum process, and their presence is often beneficial.

When Is a Sprint Retrospective Meeting Held?

The sprint retrospective is held after the sprint review and before the sprint planning. 

For one-month sprints, this is only a three-hour meeting. 

The sprint retrospective is a periodic meeting held at the end of a sprint to examine what went well in the previous sprint cycle and how teams might improve the next sprint.

Sprint Retrospective Rules

Gather and Prepare Your Tools

A sprint retrospective, like any other meeting, requires preparation to be successful. A few days before your meeting, prepare and gather the necessary tools.

Schedule a Meeting and Send an Agenda

It’s time to establish a meeting time and invite your team (and anyone else who will attend) once you’ve thought through your sprint retrospective and assembled your resources. 

Setting a meeting time, on the other hand, isn’t enough.

Establish a Set of Ground Rules Before the Sprint Retrospective Begins

Take a few moments to greet everyone who has arrived for the sprint retrospective and develop a set of ground rules to manage the meeting.

During the Meeting, Go Over What Worked, What May Be Improved, and What the Next Steps Are

It is mandatory to have an environment in the meeting so everyone can bring their opinions. 

You will also have to discuss what worked, what changes are possible to implement, and the following path you need to take as a team. 

Retrospective After the Sprint

Keep track of what was said and update your product backlog

Sprint Retrospective Checklist

The retrospective serves as a formal point for the team to review and adapt. It comes with actions based on lessons learned that you may include straight into the next sprint. 

The retrospective should be a safe space for the team to discuss and learn from their mistakes. 

The product owner can participate as long as any hierarchical relationship with the team does not interfere with the requirement.

Be honest, open, and transparent to discover what changes the team needs to make to their performance in the following sprint. 

The sprint retrospective checklist goes something like this:

  1. Preparation
  2. Sprint planning (What)
  3. Sprint planning (How)
  4. Daily Scrum (Standup)
  5. Backlog refinement 
  6. Sprint review
  7. Retrospective


To conclude, I think it is essential to hold retrospectives after every sprint. 

It’s the only way to know if your team and product development are going as expected and on the right track or not. 

You can see if your role in the team is what you are supposed to do. 

Additionally, you can see it only from these retrospective meetings

The rest of the days within a sprint are all about actions, learning from mistakes, and continuous improvement

I was always afraid of the word “retrospect,” but now I believe that if you start working with your team practicing retrospectives, they are fun and beneficial. 

They will help you develop better as a person and a professional and help you grow together with your team.

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