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Agile 2023-09-05

How to Run Effective Sprint Retros With Hatica?

Supercharge your sprint retrospectives with Hatica! Gain actionable, real-time insights that empower engineering teams to make continuous improvement.
Sprint Retros With Hatica: Actionable, Real-Time Insights For Engineering Teams 

“Knowledge is power.” “To know is half the battle.”

When it comes to agile engineering teams, end to end visibility into how your sprint goes truly is power. The real-time data helps you understand operational bottlenecks, barriers to product roadmap, and practical insights into team’s well-being. 

Most engineering teams we know are striving hard to understand team dynamics, stay on top of engineering operations, and conduct healthy sprint retros. But here's the kicker: despite their efforts, many teams are grappling with outdated methods of running retrospectives – relying on manual processes, anecdotal insights, and even word-of-mouth information. 

The Challenges of Traditional Sprint Retros 

When we ask devs what they feel about sprint, the response is either a quip like ‘we are just passing by’ or an uneasy smile. But, what makes the present paradigm of sprint retros ineffective, and crumbling for engineering teams? Regular discussions with our customers has led to some insights: 

  • Limited visibility into engineering workflows often result in ending sprint retros on surface-level discussions, with no actionable plan in place. Visibility creates trust, and transparency, especially in retros with multiple stakeholders, and cross-functional teams. 
  • Lack of data-driven feedback makes teams resort to guesswork, and anecdotal feedback. This method puts more weight on an individual’s feelings, and subjective inputs, and not necessarily helps to understand the whole picture in real– ‘We had a spike in cycle time last sprint. I think the devs must have been slow.’
  • Without complete understanding of bottlenecks, any mitigation step becomes counterproductive. While a team’s cycle time spiked due to slower code reviews, without data-driven insights, they only managed to discuss higher incidents, or tired developers as cause of derailed sprint velocity
  • This lack of visibility also snowballs into micromanagement during sprints where managers lack access to a developer’s work items, and have no way to check whether the sprint is going as planned. 
  • Already, engineering teams spend 15% of their time in meetings. Adding one meeting on top that lacks actionable insights, or growth-centered discussions adds to futility of unproductive meetings

Breathe Life Into Your Sprint Retros with Hatica 

What if we told you all your sprint retro challenges can be eliminated with one single tool. 

Enter Hatica—the catalyst that transforms sprint retrospectives from routine to remarkable. Hatica’s engineering management platform helps teams to lead effective sprints, communicate the impact of engineering efforts to product owners, and scale software delivery:

Here’s how engineering teams can use Hatica to run productive sprint retros:  

1. Understand Overall Sprint Health

As a team lead, or an engineering manager, how do you answer these questions: "Did we fulfill our sprint goals? What was the amount of unplanned work? How much time did we spent on bugs vs story points”

Finding these answers becomes easier with real-time visibility, and a single pane view of all sprint activities. Hatica’s sprint retro dashboard does just that, offering actionable insights into all sprint efforts, and understanding how the sprint fared, the milestones fulfilled, and bottlenecks encountered.  

With Hatica’s data-driven retro dashboard, get a data-driven summary of your SDLC, right from active coding time, to completed story points, people well-being, and investment allocation across the sprint. This way, your engineering team nuetralizes operational frictions, and communicates bottlenecks effectively– large PR size, high cycle time, unstable code churn, or low maker time.   

Sprint retro dashboard by Hatica

Now, the entire conversation suddenly shifts to– We spent 30% of our sprint on optimizing technical debt. How can we effectively allocate more resources to feature releases and maintenance this sprint?

The sprint progress section helps you to track deliverables, and categorize them based on priorities, helping teams to stay on top of their targets, and flag developmental bottlenecks, stemming from scope creep, rising technical debt, or lack of alignment. Predictable project delivery is the hallmark of any successful product.

Visualizing sprint progress

However, it is derailed as and when unplanned work starts wreaking havoc. Hatica takes care of this part of challenge through collating sprint data from the last four sprints, to identify delivery risks, plan more accurate iterations, adjust resources, and improve planning accuracy.

With Hatica, engineering teams have been able to improve their planning accuracy by 30%.

And there's always more room to iterate, and grow!

Moreover, every metric tells a story. The sprint over sprint trends in the retro dashboard will help you find one for your team. Hatica empowers your team to complement 130+ engineering metrics together to get the full picture of your sprint, and understand the impact of engineering activities. 

By identifying recurring patterns, and anomalies in contextual metrics, you can make meaningful progress, and become future-ready. 

2. Combat High Cycle Time

In software development, production is everything, and sprints are all about helping code to reach the finish line, so it starts delivering value to end-users. The cycle time metric on Hatica’s retro dashboard doesn’t just help you locate the delivery issues; it's your GPS to the root cause.

developer cycle time

A look at the cycle time during sprint retrospectives helps engineering teams to understand delivery risks, help shorten developer-user loops, and keep you ahead of the game. It also helps you understand: 

  • Why did some stories have lower cycle time than others? 
  • Did the cycle time align with our initial estimates? If not, why did we see discrepancies?
  • How did the review time affect our overall delivery pipeline? 
  • What actions can we take to streamline our cycle times in future sprints?
Breakdown of Cycle Time

It’s your ticket to achieve operational maturity in how a product is delivered, while finding the right balance between output, and speed.

3. Take Care of Your Code Hygiene  

Discussing your code health on sprint retrospectives is the best thing an engineering leader can do to their team. The basic metric ties back to your operational resilience, and even helps diagnose red-flags in people’s well-being. However, tracking PR hygiene can be a nightmare for any and requires a 360 degree view into the whole deployment process. 

To combat the issue, Hatica brings 20+ metrics in one single dashboard to understand how your PRs look like, and their impact on the overall sprint health. Analyzing code health on a single, centralized dashboard makes deliveries more predictable, and translates to early detection of roadblocks, before they become emergencies. 

code churn breakdown

Discussing active indicators like unreviewed yet merged PRs, code churn, and PR size, and stuck PRs helps teams to deal with unplanned work, improve the clarity of communication with teams, and how engineering efforts align with business results. 

Now engineering teams can turn from passive bystanders to active decision makers by mitigating delivery risks, and technical debt stemming from stuck PRs, while gaining factual understanding of your product quality. 

4. Manage People, and Defeat Burnout 

How do we define the success of a sprint? Is it 10/10 tasks checked, more features shipped, or higher story points completed? Amidst measuring delivery results, we often tend to bypass the most scarce engineering resources- the people. A sprint retro is incomplete without discussing IC efforts, acknowledging their work, and figuring out actions to make their workflows smoother. 

With Hatica, it is now easier than ever to take care of your developers. Maker time ensures an uninterrupted 120-minute flow state for your developers so they do what they love best: Code, and grow. We do not just stop here. Discussing maker time during retros also comes with added insights into an IC’s work (issue vs story points vs bugs), breakdown of sprint work, celebrate your dev’s work. This way, teams can tie their developer’s contributions with engineering impact. 

Low maker time

Streamlining workload is the first step towards optimizing developer workflows. The retro dashboard also offers insights into workload distribution across developers– how many devs dealt with high incident management last sprint? Did they have sufficient active coding time, or were they busy with interviews, meetings, or keeping the lights on?

Maker time metrics

With activity heatmaps, engineering managers can also reflect on devs working outside of their office hours, persistence of stressed conditions, or blockers impacting their flow state. This helps teams to fight burnout tendencies, and do meaningful work. 

All these insights become possible with data, and engineering analytics into your arsenal. It now becomes easier for team leads to build engagement, and well-being of their most scarce resources, the people. 

Activate Your Retro Superpowers Today 

Data is the lifeblood of engineering teams today. To make newer strides, engineering teams need objective, contextual data, amplified by workflow visibility. 

We want engineering teams to lead with data-driven confidence, even in most stressed, or uneven scenarios. Hatica’s engineering management capabilities take engineering teams out of their functional silos, and put them at one place to understand, analyze, and continuously iterate their project progress, at the same time, working towards the larger-picture, strategic vision. 

As General George Patton Jr advised– Tell them what to do, and not how to do. Hatica comes precisely here to empower your engineering team. Understand potential bottlenecks, operational blockers, or developer toil, while creating a safe space for every team member to voice their feedback, ideas, and concerns using engineering analytics. 

Ready to drive your engineering success with work analytics? Request a demo here→ 

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Table of Contents
  • The Challenges of Traditional Sprint Retros 
  • Breathe Life Into Your Sprint Retros with Hatica 
  • 1. Understand Overall Sprint Health
  • 2. Combat High Cycle Time
  • 3. Take Care of Your Code Hygiene  
  • 4. Manage People, and Defeat Burnout 
  • Activate Your Retro Superpowers Today 

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Overview dashboard from Hatica