Here at Spartez Software, we eat what we cook. We make sure all apps bring value to our customers, and we use our products to make sure they serve well the needs of their users.
You can find a chat widget on our website, which is our product Chat for Jira Service Management. If you have ever contacted our support, most probably, some of the answers you received were sped up by using our app Canned Responses Pro. And, of course, we estimate with Agile Poker, and now we brainstorm and plan remotely online using Whiteboards.
When Whiteboards for Jira app was born as a response to teams moving to a remote environment, almost every team in our company started using it to cover different needs. Here you can read for example how I put Whiteboards into action with the marketing team.
Today, I am going to share a short interview with the product manager of Agile Poker for Jira app, Lex Kovalenko. He’ll show you how their team adopted the Whiteboards app and overcame the challenges of running their Jira retrospective sessions remotely.
Let’s give a brief intro to what a retrospective in your work is
A Retrospective is a necessary part of our working cycle, both from process and team spirit perspectives.
It is a regular meeting where we discuss three main points in the context of our last sprint:
- What went well;
- What could be better;
- What actions should we take to introduce the improvements?
Our goal is to gather feedback from everyone in the team and form action points to improve the coming sprints.
Can you describe how you ran your team’s retro?
While being in the office, my team and I used to run retro meetings in a meeting room with snacks and drinks. We used stickers and a big table or physical whiteboard. Everyone used a sticker for a memorable moment, put it on a sprint timeline (we used a snake drawing as the timeline, I’m not sure why). Other members could see the points and that might have triggered their feelings connected to a moment and add more stickers.
When the board was full of stickers and everyone was ready, the next phase of the retro started: a facilitator distributed the stickers into two columns: “pluses” and “deltas”. The “Pluses” column stored cards with positive events we wanted to mention and celebrate, while the “Deltas” column had topics we had to discuss.
After the discussion, all the “deltas” were put on the Impact/Ability chart. Finally, we converted the top three from the top right quadrant into action points.
What challenges did you face when the team started working remotely?
First of all, it is very tough to recreate the family-like atmosphere we had before with face-to-face communication, looking at team-mates’ emotions.
Secondly, we were not able to recreate the same collaborative experience while being remote.
However, when Whiteboards for Jira (at that time, it was called Digital Boards) has been just rolled out by one of our developers, we found it a great solution to run online Jira Retrospectives.
Additionally, we started using Whiteboards for Jira and were able to share our feedback about the app, so the team could improve it. So it was the right decision for our team and for the company in general.
How is your online retro with Whiteboards?
Fantastic! We overcame the emotional issue with the ability to add GIFs, memes, pictures, and videos to the board. In fact, it has become even better. I’ll leave some images below as an example.
The online collaboration part was also great. Whiteboards’ collaborative approach was like a fresh breath of air. We were able to recreate the previous experience, so the whole team was really glad.
Are there any specific features that you use while using Whiteboards that support your team’s activities?
There are many small and big features available in Whiteboards that supported our team during the online retrospective:
1. Grids, lines, the possibility to add cards and convert them into action items.
2. For every team activity we do in Whiteboards we have a custom template. We use a Retrospective template and it saves a lot of time as the board is ready when we need it to start the meeting.
3. Sometimes we have more than 3 cards with top impact/ability scores and need to select cards to act upon. Voting is very useful and helps us achieve consensus.
4. The ability to convert cards into Jira issues right from the board. It’s perfect for the retro action items – all the points we discuss can be immediately added to our Jira boards, so we don’t need to create them again in Jira manually!
5. Complete freedom of customization. The team enjoys the current flow even more than the one we had while working from the office because of its nice place for creativity. As mentioned before, our boards are full of sarcastic pictures, memes, GIFs, videos, or links to highlight specific moods and sprint moments. It’s hilarious.
What were the outcomes of using Whiteboards for Jira?
I’d say the most important part of our retro process is the team collaboration and the personal touch we’re missing so much while working from home.
So I’d say the best outcome, apart from the proper work process, is how engaged and united the team remains. For example, you can use Ice breaker wheel of questions to get to know your team better.
Would you recommend Whiteboards for other companies or teams having the same need?
Sure. I highly recommend Agile teams to try Whiteboards for Jira not only to run their retros but also plannings, brainstorms, standup, and whatever you need help with while working remotely.