Retrospectives are important at higher levels than just your individual projects. At AgilityFeat we also hold retrospectives within our company and across our projects regularly. This is so we can look for patterns across our most successful projects and also learn from projects that had more challenges. These retrospectives also keep our team members informed and engaged with the larger status of things in the company as a whole.

Last week I was in Costa Rica and we had most of the team together for the afternoon at the beautiful La Casona del Cafetal, just outside the small town of Cachí in Costa Rica. After an excellent lunch next to the lake, we held a team retrospective. Here’s a quick photo of the team…

Part of the AgilityFeat team still smiling after a team retrospective (l to r): Giuliani Perry (scrummaster), Arin Sime (US lead), Rolando Castro (developer), Mariana Lopez (UX), Allan Duarte (developer), Saul Castro (developer), Andrea Phillips (developer), David Alfaro (Costa Rica lead)

One thing that came up during the retrospective is the importance of the Product Owner role. This is no surprise in agile methods, that’s why Scrum methodologies go to great lengths to describe and coach the product owner role. Here are a few things about our customers that we find make our projects most efficient and successful:

  • A Product Owner who can devote 5-10 hours per week on the project.  This time will be spent in 15 minute daily standup meetings on skype, in weekly demos and planning sessions (about 2 hours total), answering questions the team has as they do their work, and working with our User Experience and Visual Design leads to prepare the next iteration of work.
  • A project that we “own”.  That means we have control over all the things necessary to keep development running smoothly.  If the customer maintains all control over any servers or web services that we need, and those services are not running reliably, then it introduces significant slowdowns to our work.
  • A project that is of the highest priority to the customer.  Because we believe agile methods are the best and most efficient way to get work done, and because agile methods require strong interaction with the customer, we need a customer who can truly give the project their attention.  It doesn’t have to be the whole customer’s company, or even a single full time person (see above 5-10 hour requirement for Product Owners).  But it does mean that we need the project to be important enough to you that when we say “we need this from you to continue”, that item becomes very high priority to you.  If we are working on a project that is way the bottom of your priority list, then unfortunately you may not give our team the response time we need to be successful.
  • A customer who needs more than just code monkeys.  Our team is about more than just slinging code as fast as we can.  We have a team that can help you think through what you need, how best to design a feature so users will love it, and make it aesthetically pleasing.  Of course, you need a vision for what you want, but we also love customers who are unsure enough of how to make it happen that we can help them translate that vision into reality.

Those are all great ways to make your project with AgilityFeat a huge success.  They also line up well with startup companies, which is why we particularly love serving that niche.

Are you curious if your project will meet our success criteria?  Give me (Arin) a call at 434 996 5226 or email at and I’d love to discuss it with you!