Precision in Action: Enhancing Action Items at Retrium

In any meeting, action items are a crucial aspect of ensuring your team improve productivity and stay efficient. At Retrium, we used real customer data and usability testing in order to improve the application's action item functionality.

Prior to starting this project, the leadership team chose to prioritize features that would have a direct impact on follow-through during retrospectives. Essentially, we wanted to help teams who use the app become more efficient and productive by following through on the action items they had set for themselves after a meeting.

To do this, I researched meeting practices that are most effective for business enterprises in order to gain a well-rounded understanding of how our app could encourage users to follow these best practices. What I found was that there are key components that make up action items: having a due date, assigning someone to "own" the item, and tying the action item back to a larger goal.

A screenshot from Miro, showing various expert feedback and research points that center around action items from meetings. They are grouped by topic.

After gathering the most important elements of meetings based on expert feedback, I looked at user feedback to further solidify what features we should prioritize. In Pendo Feedback, a few users had mentioned key pieces of functionality that they wanted action items to have, including an "ambassador" or "owner".

To hear more from real users, I conducted a survey of 5 random participants who were unfamiliar with Retrium and asked them about how they follow up on action items using their own processes. In this unmoderated study, I asked participants to rate various user interfaces based on usefulness and asked them to attach a preselected list of words to each screenshot. The results provided insights into how a user might interact with the Retrium product, and how realistic it is to expect that they might use Retrium in meetings to gather action items to work on.

A Miro screenshot, depicting user feedback around Action Items, prioritized and organized based on different topics.

From the survey, I concluded that action item functionality in retrospectives (among other meeting types) needed to serve the user by allowing them to export tasks easily into the app of their choosing, whether it be Jira or Microsoft Teams. Users typically take notes using whatever software they are comfortable with, so it might take some getting used to when switching to a product like Retrium.

The desirability study results proved useful as well, as the ratings for overall attractiveness were a bit spread. Participants used words like "unattractive", "boring", "professional", and "confusing" to describe the interface. Clearly, there were ways that we could make the product easy to use and more useful, while simultaneously sharpening up the user interface.

The usefulness bar chart, resulting from a study of random participants.

After gathering data on action item features, I got to work on breaking down the features and tasks we would work on into smaller chunks. We started with adding owners for action items, then added due dates for action items. Simultaneously, I worked to clean up the user interface so that it was more cohesive with the look and feel we wanted to work towards for Retrium. Many components were mashed together that contained different properties, and the goal was to minimize the variations so that we could a) reuse more components, and b) present a cleaner user interface.

An incomplete action item, redesigned to fit a cleaner brand style.

After launching these updates, I worked with our data analyst to gather results. Of action items created between August and September of 2022, 21% have an ambassador.

Further analysis found that adding Action Item Ambassadors does help Action Items get completed at a higher rate. However, we also found that adding an ambassador do not not help Action Items get completed more quickly, with regards to the time elapsed between creation and completion. Additionally, customers provided no feedback.

In conclusion, Action Item ambassadors are a helpful addition to our action items, which move our customers to more successfully completing action items. Customers neither love nor hate them, and thus have not given us feedback on them. We suspect that ambassadors do not improve the speed with which action items are completed because they do not provide any mechanism or impetus to return to the app between retros to complete action items.

Want to see more of my work?

©2024 John Bentley Creative