Tom is a passionate Java/JEE developer working remotely from home located in Poland. He is a big fan of Apache Wicket, clean code, testing and methods with names that actually say something. In his free time he blogs, tweets and organizes Confitura, the biggest Java conference in Poland. Privately husband, father and dog owner, he likes to watch and play football (soccer if you're from USA). Tomasz is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 15 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

Tools for Retrospectives in Distributed Teams

04.25.2012
| 3360 views |
  • submit to reddit

In our company we work remotely from different locations across Poland. And because we work using agile, after each iteration (in my project usually every 2 weeks) we have a sprint retrospective when we share our insights about what was good and bad in the last sprint. Then we vote on minuses, discuss them and try to extract action items to perform so those problem are less likely to recur in the future.

Standard retrospective is easy , you sit next to other people from your project and simply discuss. But when there are hundreds of kilometers between team members, you need a tool (except Skype of course :) ) that will allow to conduct a successful retro. Below I share my opinions about three tools that might be essential for distributed teams and distributed retrospectives.

Cosketch

Pros:

  • Many, many colors (every team member can pick one)
  • You can actually draw something
  • Each item occupies only small area, good if you have many people and many items
  • Changes history and “undo”
Cons:
  • Someone can think it’s too complicated
  • Does not look so nicely
  • It sometimes has problems with synchronization across the Internet. I can see something that other team members can’t

Corkboard

Pros:

  • Clean and simple
  • A few colors to pick
  • All required features and nothing more
Cons:
  • Each item takes a some space and re-sizing is limited
  • No extra features
  • No drawing, only text

Chalky

Pros:

  • Looks almost like a real blackboard
  • Cool drawing
  • Each note can have comments
Cons:
  • Small number of colors
  • Each item takes a some space and re-sizing is limited
  • Sometimes size changes without a reason causing problems like with this drawn “plus” sign

Summary

Each of this tool is useful and may be suitable for  some teams depending on their size/project specific needs/etc. Currently  in project we are using Corkboard mainly because of its simplicity. My team is relatively small (3 up to 4 people) so none of Corkboard’s drawbacks is really problem for us.

And maybe you are using a different tool that helps with retrospectives? If so, please drop a note in the comments.

Published at DZone with permission of Tomasz Dziurko, author and DZone MVB.

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)

Comments

Shruti Gangras replied on Thu, 2012/04/26 - 5:43am

In our team we have recently started using trello https://trello.com/ I found it intelligent in organizing things

Tomasz Dziurko replied on Sat, 2012/04/28 - 3:40am in response to: Shruti Gangras

But I see Trello more as a Kanban Board or something similar where you have tickets/tasks in a different states so you can visualise current state of project/iteration/etc . In my opinion it is a good tool but not for retrospectives.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.