Feature launch: New insights change how you do your retros

Uplevel is built for engineers, by engineers. The way to understand other teams’ productivity relies on understanding our own, which means we dogfood our product every day. This helps us run a world-class engineering team—and ensures that we’re building a great product so others can do the same.
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Jori Saeger
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After every sprint, teams gather for a retrospective. Generally, that involves an open discussion about what went right—and where things went wrong. The teams might pull data from Git, Jira, employee surveys, or even water cooler chats, relying on informal analysis to reach conclusions.

There are multiple challenges to this common experience. When we study engineering teams and their sprints, we find three downfalls:

  • Feelings over facts. By the end of the sprint, your devs are likely exhausted by the work and thrilled to be done, which can cloud perceptions of sprint outcomes. What seemed overwhelming eight days ago might seem “fine” after the fact. What felt easy at first might have devolved into a cluster of chaos as deadlines approached. 
  • Vague, big goals, over specific, small goals. Other times, participants raise issues that are too big to solve in one meeting, or by the next sprint. Repeating topics over time can feel discouraging, as if change will never happen. Rather than aiming to “follow processes better,” we recommend goals that are both manageable and measurable.
  • Qualitative over quantitative data. Teams make the time for sprint retros in the name of “continuous improvement.” Every sprint should ideally be better than the last, with ever-growing aspirations beyond that. If every meeting is based on soft data—as they usually are—that improvement gets murky. Engineers need a baseline to measure against.

The truth is, sprint retros are only as effective as they are accurate. For a process usually supported by anecdotal evidence, the efficacy comes into question. Effective sprint retros require clarity.

INTRODUCING: SPRINT RETRO INSIGHTS

Uplevel is bringing together powerful features for radically informed Sprint Retro Insights.

This new destination is a core part of your Uplevel dashboard. Managers and developers can see up-to-date metrics about how the current sprint is running, with an estimated rate of completion and a calculated Sprint Health Score.

Most importantly, Sprint Retro Insights considers sprint health based on both work and people. We know that PR activity is a critical indicator of sprint progress, but people-focused areas like Deep Work and Slack Interruptions play a significant role, too. That’s why you’ll see a People health score, a Project health score, and a combined Sprint Health Score at the top of your dashboard.

So, how can you upgrade your next sprint retrospective? Explore your Sprint Retro Insights beforehand to understand highs, lows, and questions. The retro owner can assemble the meeting agenda based on pertinent topics and share proactively as preparation. During the review, you’re ready to evolve beyond anecdotes on Post-it notes — we recommend displaying (or screen-sharing) Sprint Retro Insights for everyone to see common metrics.

KEY FEATURES

There are helpful features for all roles on your team:

  • Individual Contributors (ICs) can view their personal dashboards to find data that backs up observations about time allocation, PR throughput, and other key metrics. Throughout the sprint, they can log notes to record in-the-moment thoughts and bring them up for discussion at the retrospective. Trend data serves as a personal benchmark for growth, and an excellent conversation-starter at weekly, quarterly, or annual check-ins.
  • Managers can review sprint data ahead of the retro to create a relevant agenda. Sprint Retro Insights provides details from the most recent sprint, as well as trend data that gives context to change over time. 

By highlighting both the work—pre-sprint planning, completed tasks, and mid-sprint changes—and the people—time spent in Deep Work, frequency of overtime, and burnout risk—teams can use data to guide more comprehensive conversations about sprint outcomes and areas in need of improvement.

Sprint Retro Insights include:

  • Sprint Health Score
  • Sprint Completion %
  • PR and Ticket reactions (emoji-style 😊) and comments 
  • Mid-Sprint Ticket Changes
  • Trends over time
  • Sprint Successes and Issues
    • People
      • Always On
      • Context Switching
      • Slack Interruptions
      • Deep Work
    • Projects
      • Issue Descriptions
      • PRs Merged Without Approval
      • Stuck PRs
      • PRs Without Reviewers
      • Issues Without Story Points
      • Issues Closed
      • Tickets Added Mid-Sprint
      • Longest PR cycle

Turn a new leaf to initiate smarter, data-rich sprint retrospectives. Uplevel’s new Sprint Retro Insights help your team understand victories, obstacles, and where to focus for engineering effectiveness.

Ready for a new retro? Log in to your Uplevel dashboard or schedule a demo today.