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Why we love Metro Retro for our remote retrospectives.

How important are sprint retros really?

The one thing I have learnt over the years is that if you aren’t paying attention to your retros (retrospectives), or doing them properly, you might as well not be doing them at all.

Retros in general come with several challenges, but throw in a global pandemic and full time remote working, and things become even more challenging.

In person vs remote retros – what works?

When we were office based, retros were pretty straightforward. Yes, they still came with some struggles (maintaining energy levels and encouraging the team to dig into the details of potential issues) but at least everyone was in the same room with minimal distractions. Remember that? Just the team, a good old white board, and copious amount of brightly coloured stickies. 

When we went hybrid remote back in 2018, we had to start experimenting with several different online tools to recreate our in-office retro ceremonies. We tested everything from ‘homemade’ solutions with Google Sheets to several online tools, however, when all is said and done, Metro Retro has reigned supreme. 

Why do we love Metro Retro?

In this article, I will be highlighting a few reasons why we love Metro Retro and continue to use it for our remote retrospectives:

  • It’s FREE!
    Most of us don’t really want to shell out too much cash for a retro tool, especially if that tool is not tried and tested and proven to work for the team. Yeah, free trials are great, but a 14 day free trial just isn’t enough time to navigate your way through a tool and commit. 
  • Sign up is a breeze!
    You simply sign up through Google, Github, Slack and Your Email and create a board. A unique URL is generated and you can share this directly with your team (They will also need to sign up, but it’s about 2 clicks) 
  • You can customise your board easily.
    “Happy Mad Sad?” “Stop, Start, Continue?” There is an easy to use build mode, where you can customise your board in any way. If you aren’t terribly inspired to create your own board, there is a large array of templates to choose from.

  • My favourite feature, and the one I found lacking in other online tools, is the ability for everyone to hide or share their stickies. This allows your team to only share their stickies when it’s their time to share. This allows everyone to focus on what is being presented at the time, as opposed to all the stickies being available to view from the beginning of the retro. This simulates the in-person white board and stickies retro, which each team member take a turn to go up to the board and place their stickies while they talk through them. 

  • Can’t find your own stickies while trying to discuss them?
    Just use the highlight post functionality which will highlight all the stickies you have created and added to the board. This makes it super easy for you to find & run through your stickies with the team.
    The quintessential retro function (that so many other platforms get wrong). The voting function is quick and simple. You can vote on individual cards or group them according to the theme and vote accordingly. All votes on individual cards within a grouping theme will be calculated.   
  • It stores all your previous boards under your account
    and also has an export functionality if you want to save all the information for later use. You can easily export as a CSV or excel!

What isn’t great about Metro Retro?

As with all tools, Metro Retro isn’t perfect, even though it is pretty damn close.  My only real complaint is that the grouping functionality is useful, but can be a little finicky and tricky to use and not as seamless as one would hope.  

In conclusion, Remote retros are still tricky but Metro Retro takes the admin out of it, allowing you to focus on keeping engagement high and really getting into the weeds about team issues or potential improvements. I highly recommend you giving it a bash!

If you enjoyed this article I’ve recently written a post on how to keep teams connected during a pandemic.

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Saskia Koning

Head of Production - Nona