Tooling: retrospective

The development teams that I work with are either fully or party located in Lviv (Ukraine). This brings some challenges in managing these teams since all meetings require some form of video conference and information sharing. For the review, grooming, planning and daily standup meetings this was relatively easily solved with a simple form of screen sharing of our SCRUM tooling (VersionOne). However for the retrospecitve meetings we faced an interesting challenge.

I like to run retrospective meetings in an interactive way. When the team is completely located in a single location I let people put sticky notes with ideas and comments on a whiteboard and use dot voting to determine what the biggest problems are or what suggestion should be implemented first. When starting to work with a team that is partly in The Netherlands (4 team members) and partly in Lviv (5 team members) we needed some way to put this process in a software tool. VersionOne did not contain sufficient functionality for this so I had to start looking for another solutions and this proved to be a bigger challenge than I expected.

My search initially lead to no results and when the first retrospective meeting with a separated team aproached I had no clue on which tooling to use for it. Eventually I ended up on the website of twiddla ( Twiddla is a web based shared whiteboard that also provides the possibility to add sticky notes to the whiteboard. In our retrospective meeting we used two computers, one in Lviv (Ukraine) and one in Wassenaar (The Netherlands) both were logged in to a shared whiteboard of twiddla.

People would add sticky notes with their comments to the whiteboard, after all notes were put on the whiteboard the team members would cluster their notes and then it was time to start voting to determine which items were most important. Unfortunately the only solution I was able to find for this is to draw marks on the sticky notes with the line tool of twiddla. All in all it worked and allowed us to perform the retrospective meeting, however I will be looking into other tools that hopefully suit our process better. Any suggestions are appreciated.

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