Online Retro Board Comparison Thumbnail EN

7 best free retrospective tools - to do a retro online now

Table of Contents

Alright, for those of you who are impatient: You can jump start a free retrospective and start your teams retro online following this link:

For everyone else, I made an in depth comparison of the best retrospective tools to facilitate retros online below. Why do I think they are the best free online retrospective tools? I tried to be objective here and simply looked at their website traffic. Find more on this below.

So how can you identify the right retrospective meeting tool for your organization? Good question! It is connected to the question: what is a good retrospective actually about? Only if I know what a good retrospective is about, can I compare tools in a meaningful way.

Therefore, I also wrote quite a bit about the outputs of retrospective tools and the outcomes of retrospectives in general. This gives us a great decision framework for evaluating the different online Scrum retrospective tools for agile that you might use in your teams retro. At the end of my analysis, you will know which free online sprint retrospective tool is right for your online retrospective. Which will definitely help you running a retrospective remotely.

This post should also help you with the following question: how to do a retrospective online. It is actually quite simple, if the retro tool has a good UX. Therefore, the simplest way to understand how to conduct a retrospective meeting online is to try it out - you can find the direct access at the top of this post.

 

The 7 best retrospective tools online for your teams retro

We will compare the following best retrospective tools to do retros online:

  1. Echometer: Mindset Retros
  2. Teamretro: Easy retros
  3. Easyretro: Remo. collaboration
  4. Metro Retro: Engaging retros
  5. Parabol: Agile meetings
  6. Retrium: Enabling conversations
  7. Neatro: Effective retros

Of course, these few words are just a basic indication of what these Scrum retrospective tools for agile focus on and how they help you in running a retrospective remotely. We will go into more detail later. But before we do so, we should know what to focus on: What makes a good retro tool?

 

Software retrospective: What makes a good online retro tool?

If we ask the “why” question for retrospectives, we can answer what a good retrospective web tool is about. “Why” do we need retros? Let’s use the important distinction between outputs and outcomes to answer this question.

What should be the outputs of retrospective tools, and what should be the outcomes of retrospectives in general? Which product features does this relate to? To give you a quick answer, have a look at the 2 graphics:

I am further elaborating on this below after the comparison of the retro tools that help you to facilitate retrospectives online. So if you learn more about which outcomes and outputs your teams retro should have, simply scroll down. These are the Outcomes of retros in general and the product features related to them by the way:

I guess many of you are impatient, so let’s start the comparison of online retro tools.

Which of the best free online retrospective tools is actually the best one with helping you get the given outputs and outcomes of agile retrospectives, doing retrospectives online?

 

Evaluating 7 retrospective tools online - what we look at

To begin with, I organized the comparison of free retro online tools in 8 categories:

  • Screenshot of the agile retro tool
  • Capterra Rating, as one of the key platforms that gives reviews of online cloud tools
  • Short Intro of the online free retrospective web tool based on their one sentence pitch (see website)
  • Feature Comparison of the agile retro tool
  • Pro’s and Con’s of the agile retro tool
  • A few example screenshots of what the free online sprint retrospective tool looks like
  • One example testimonial of the agile retro tool
  • Information on their pricing, including links to free trial and access to the retro tool

 

Which online retro tool is right for your teams retro?

For those of you who are just looking for purely free retro tools: TeamRetro, Retrium and Neatro are each a Sprint retro app that do not offer a free version of their retro online tool, only a free trial version. So you could ignore these three tools in your comparison. Here we go!

7 Tools for a retrospective

Software Retrospective: Echometer

Echometer Review on Capterra:
4.5/5

Quick intro on Echometer's website

“Most Agile Coaches and Scrum Masters run in circles fixing superficial symptoms. Time to use psychology to sustainably foster mindset change - through the Echometer retro tool."

Echometer website: https://echometerapp.com/

Retros online: Echometer features

Overall, the Echometer tool has 9.5 out of 10 core features of a retrospective tool (see toggle). 

Features to foster outputsFeatures to foster outcomes
☑️ Action item Support & Tracking☑️ ROTI metric
☑️ Flexible whiteboard or similar☑️ Team Health Checks
☑️ Various retro templates☑️ Team Health Templates
☑️ Support of facilitator 
☑️ Effective timer 
☑️ Optional anonymity 
⚠️ Intuitive UX & attractive design 

In the retro

Online Retrospective Tool (Free): One of the Whiteboard Check-In's

echometer retro tool check in

The Health Check visualization 

…within the Retro:
Echometer retro tool health check item

 

 

Preparing a retro

Various team templates for different levels of agile maturityechometer retro tool maturity level templates

Online Retrospective Tool (Free): Examples of Health Check Items

...within the area of "agility":echometer retro tool health check templates

 

Cross-Team Analysis

Department-wide overview of number of action items etc.

echometer retro tool workspace health

Online Retrospective Tool (Free): Cross-Team Health Check in Heatmap & Radar Chart view

echometer retro tool workspace health 2

Pros & Cons: Echometer tool for retrospectives

☀️ Pro's ☀️🌧 Con's 🌧
👍 All core features existing💔 User experience needs improvement – we are working on it!
👍 Easy handling & focus on data-driven coaching 
👍 Even cross-team health checks possible 
👍 Psychologically valid templates (effect on retro outcomes) 

 

Customer Testimonials & Review Echometer

"A brilliant tool! We finally have time to concentrate on the essentials and talk about the right things. For us as a team an absolute quantum leap in our agile way of working."

Stefanie Meindl, Team Lead Digitization & Technology @ Unity AG

Echometer Pricing, Free Trial & Access

  • Free trial: 21 days
  • Free version (after the free trial): Yes
  • Basic price (after the free trial): Beginning at €5.5/team member/month
Here you can find the whole Echometer pricing. (English). 

To summarize, Echometer is really easy to use for individual Scrum Masters, Agile Coaches, Product Owners or other retrospective facilitators. And it even offers some fancy features for Agile Coaches in an Agile at scale environment (see screenshots above).

Just follow one of the following buttons (aka retrospective formats) to open your first retro now and invite your agile team to our Sprint Retro App:

Summer Retrospective

Sailboat Retrospective

Kart Racing Retrospective

Discover More Retro Ideas

Echometer is the right choice for you if you want to develop a single teams and organizations at all levels. It provides you and your agile coaching team with a continuous health check of the maturity of teams, makes successes of your agile transformation visible as a team radar online tool and is one of the few tools with an online whiteboard for your retrospective.

Tools for Retrospective​ | No. 2

Software Retrospective: Teamretro

Team retro review on Capterra:
4.8/5

Quick intro on Teamretro's website

"TeamRetro is an enterprise-ready online retrospective tool for remote teams. Our guided retrospective techniques ensure your retros are worthwhile – each and every time."

Team retro website: https://www.teamretro.com/

Retros online: Team retro features

Overall, the team retro tool has 7.5 out of 10 core features of a retrospective tool (see toggle). 

Features to foster outputsFeatures to foster outcomes
☑️ Action item Support & Tracking⚠️ ROTI metric
⚠️ Flexible whiteboard or similar☑️ Team Health Checks
☑️ Various retro templates⚠️ Team Health Templates
⚠️ Support of facilitator 
☑️ Effective timer 
☑️ Optional anonymity 
⚠️ Intuitive UX & attractive design 

The Retro Summary – Tools for Online Retrospective

team retrospective tool comparison

 

The Retro Tool Board – Tools for online retrospective
teamretro retrospective tool board

 

The preparation of the Retro Tool Format – Tools for online retrospectiveteamretro retro tool format

Pro & Cons: Team retro tool for retrospectives

☀️ Pro ☀️ 🌧 Cons 🌧
👍 Long list of features 💔 One of many GroupMap products - accordingly, no development focus
👍 Relevant integrations 💔 No clear unique selling proposition
👍 Business API 💔 No “free forever” option

Customer testimonials & review team retro

"Simple but effective tool. We use it also to brainstorm ideas for product development or any other purpose where we need input from the team."

Tadas Z., Co-Founder (see Capterra)

Teamretro Pricing, Free Trial & Access

  • Free trial: 30 days
  • Free version (after the free trial): No
  • Basic price (after the free trial): Beginning at €25/team/month
Here you can find the whole Team retro pricing and access to their free trial

Conclusion, Tips & Further Thoughts (Retrospective Remote Tools)

Looking at this analysis, this tool deserves to be called one of the best retrospective tools for remote teams. It not only is an anonymous retrospective tool, but also has the ROTI functionality.

I believe the quality of retrospectives is an indication for team maturity in itself. Given this, the ROTI (Return on time invest) Score is basically an agile KPI' that you should take into account when measuring agile maturity in your organization.

If you want to learn more on why I believe this, feel free to have a look into my post "7 tips for teams with retro fatigue". “Retro fatigue” meaning: the team considers that the sprint retrospective isn’t necessary. What can you as a Scrum Master do about this? This is what the text is about - and what you might learn for your teams retro.

Sorry for the digression. I mainly wanted to say: I really like that the Teamretro retrospective meeting tool also offers this feature of measuring the ROTI score. And it is a team radar online tool as well - #ILike. Now let’s continue with the next free agile retro tool that helps to facilitate retrospectives online.

Tools for Retrospective | No. 3

Software Retrospective: Easyretro.io, formerly FunRetro

Easyretro.io (formerly FunRetro) Review on Capterra:
4.6/5

Quick intro on Easyretro io (formerly FunRetro's) website

"Improve with Fun Sprint Retrospectives: Collaborate with your remote team and get better at what you do with a simple, intuitive and beautiful tool."

Easyretro.io (formerly FunRetro) website: https://easyretro.io/

Retros online: features of Easyretro io (formerly FunRetro)

Overall, the Easyretro.io aka FunRetro Tool has 4.5 out of 10 core features of a retrospective tool (see toggle). 

Features to foster outputsFeatures to foster outcomes
⚠️ Action item Support & Tracking❌ ROTI metric
⚠️ Flexible whiteboard or similar❌ Team Health Checks
☑️ Various retro methods❌ Team Health Templates
❌ Support of facilitator 
☑️ Effective timer 
☑️ Optional anonymity 
⚠️ Intuitive UX & attractive design 

EasyRetro (formerly FunRetro) Retro Board – Sprint Retrospective Online Tools (Free)

easyretro funretro retro tool

 

Easyretro or FunRetro Tool Formats – Sprint Retrospective Online Tools (Free)


easy retro fun retro tool formats

 

Settings in the retro preparation – Sprint Retrospective Online Tools (Free)

easyretro funretro alternative setup options

Pro Contra: Easyretro.io (formerly FunRetro) Retrospective tool

☀️ Pro's ☀️🌧 Con's 🌧
👍 Long list of retro methods💔 None of the features to foster retro outcomes (see above)
👍 Relevant integrations💔 Design not very appealing
 💔 Although it's called "EasyRetro", unfortunately, UX was not that intuitive for us

Customer Voices & Review Easyretro io (formerly FunRetro) Easyretro io (formerly FunRetro)

"We used the tool for a weekly retrospective of our team, ours is a small team so it was very effective and useful to us. The functionality to save the board helped us keep track of the action points."

Mehak, Software Engineer (see Capterra)

Easyretro io (formerly FunRetro) Pricing, Free Trial & Access

  • Free trial: 7 days
  • Free version (after free trial): Yes, incl. 3 public retro boards
  • Basic price (after free trial): Beginning at €26/team/month
Here you can find the whole Easyretro.io pricing and access to their free trial

Conclusion, tips & further thoughts (Virtual Retrospective Tools) 

Given these features, Easyretro is still one of the best free retrospective tools for distributed Scrum teams. "Funretro improve your team with fun sprint retrospectives" summarizes it pretty well.

If you want to learn more about the Easyretro or fun retro online tool, the funretro public board etc., feel free to have a look at their website. There you will get more detailed answers to the questions: What is fun retro, is funretro anonymous, is it open source... More Funretro alternatives (free) are below - and one specific funretro free alternative is metro retro - we will get to that in a second.

No matter how you do the agile retrospective online and which retrospective meeting tool you choose: you should take the 5 phases of a retrospective into consideration. Each of the 5 phases, including the check-in and the check-out, has a valid reason for existence and should be part of any retro online.

Did you know that one might argue that there is even a sixth phase of a retrospective It is a phase that is often missing. Basically, it is about taking the time for developing great action items.

Anyway, let’s move on to the next in our list of free retro tools (Scrum) to do retros online.

Retrospective Tools Online | No. 4

Software Retrospective: Metro Retro

Metro Retro Review on Capterra:
4/5

Quick intro on Metro Retro's website

"Metro Retro allows teams that are remote or co-located to run productive, engaging and fun retrospectives."

Metro Retro website: https://metroretro.io/

Retros online: Metro Retro features

Overall, the Metro Retro tool has 5.5 out of 10 core features of a retrospective tool (see toggle). 

Features to foster outputsFeatures to foster outcomes
❌ Action item Support & Tracking❌ ROTI metric
☑️ Flexible whiteboard or similar❌ Team Health Checks
☑️ Various retro templates❌ Team Health Templates
⚠️ Support of facilitator 
☑️ Effective timer 
☑️ Optional anonymity 
☑️ Intuitive UX & attractive design 

The Retro Summary

...see Retro Board.

Metro Retro formats - Setup view

Metro retro formats

Pros & Cons: MetroRetro Tool for retrospectives

☀️ Pro's ☀️🌧 Con's 🌧
👍 Some pretty retro methods💔 None of the features to foster retro outcomes (see above)
👍 Flexible whiteboard💔 Further development of the tool was announced a long time ago, not yet implemented (only 1-2 software developers behind it)

Customer testimonial & Review MetroRetro

"Pros: confetti, grouping, and dotvoting. Cons: management of graphic layers when pasting backgrounds and drawings."

Vitantonio T., Test Coach (see Capterra)

MetroRetro Pricing, Free Trial & Access

  • Free trial: 30 days
  • Free version (after free trial): Yes (max. 3000 board items)
  • Basic price (after the free trial): Beginning at 6$/team member/month
Here you can find the whole MetroRetro pricing and access to their free trial

Conclusion, Tips & Further Thoughts (Retrospective Remote Tools)

Given these features, Easyretro is still one of the best free retrospective tools for distributed Scrum teams.

If you want to learn more about metro retro io, about the Metro Retro pricing, metro retro templates, see a metro retro tutorial to learn more about the metro retro tool in general, just have a look at their website metro retro.com.

As I mentioned above, you might argue that there are 6 phases of a retrospective. And the sixth phase is focusing on the development of action items.

I believe that good action items play a key role when it comes to improving the maturity level of teams (in any retro online). They are the output that is the precondition of one of the core outcomes of retrospectives: Continuous improvement.

And they are also connected to learning the agile mindset. Why am I telling you all of this? Because I believe (digital or paper) retro whiteboards are a great place to flexibly brainstorm action items. So this is a clear advantage of Metroretro (and Echometer) compared to the other remote retrospective tools: They have an online whiteboard for their retrospective.

To be more specific, using the “5 Why” or the “Impact Effort Matrix” to develop action items is a great way to improve their quality and effectiveness (in any retro online & offline). Find 5 more example retro whiteboard templates to brainstorm good action items right here.

But now let’s get back to our online retrospective tools (free, of course), to the next sprint retro app that helps you to facilitate retrospectives online. It doesn’t have retro whiteboard functionality, but it does have some other fancy add-ons.

Retrospective Tools Online | No. 5

Software Retrospective: Parabol

Parabol Review on Capterra:
4.7/5

Quick intro on Parabol's website

“Better Meetings, Less Effort. All your agile meetings in one place."

Parabol website: https://www.parabol.co/

Retros online: Parabol features

Overall, the Parabol Tool has 6.5 out of 10 core features of a retrospective tool (see toggle). 

Features to foster outputsFeatures to foster outcomes
☑️ Action item Support & Tracking❌ ROTI metric
⚠️ Flexible whiteboard or similar❌ Team Health Checks
☑️ Various retro methods❌ Team Health Templates
☑️ Support of facilitator 
☑️ Effective timer 
☑️ Optional anonymity 
☑️ Intuitive UX & attractive design 

The retro summary of the retrospective tool – Open Source

parabolic retro tool summary

 

The retro tool board of the retrospective tool – Open Source


Parabolic retro tool

 

Check-in inside the retro of the retrospective tool – Open Source

Parabolic retro tool check-in view

Pros & Cons: Parabol tool for retrospectives

☀️ Pro's ☀️🌧 Con's 🌧
👍 Open source tool💔 None of the features to foster retro outcomes (see above)
👍 Other meeting formats available💔 Pricing rather high

Customer testimonial & Review Parabol

"Parabol is a great tool for teams trying to run virtual retrospectives."

Haylay, Technology Operations Manager in the US (see Capterra)

Parabol Pricing, Free trial & Access

  • Free Trial: No
  • Free version: Yes, up to 2 teams
  • Base price: From 6$/team member/month
Here you can find the whole Parabol pricing and access to their free trial

Conclusion, Tips & Further Thoughts (Retrospective Remote Tools)

Looking at this analysis, this tool deserves to be called one of the best retrospective tools for remote teams. And it to my knowledge the only remote retrospective tool that’s open source.

If you want to learn more about the parabol retrospective tool, the Parabol company, the parabol pricing, see more parabol reviews etc. just have a look at their website.

I agree with Woody Zuill who said: “If you adopt only one agile practice let it be retrospectives. Everything else will follow.”

Retrospectives are the core ceremony in Scrum. But of course, there are other types of meetings that play a role. So I really like Parabol’s approach, trying to connect other agile meetings into their platform.

Let’s come to the next neat free retrospective (remote) tool: Retrium.

Retrospective Tools Online | No. 6

Software Retrospective: Retrium

Retrium Review on Capterra:
4.7/5

Quick intro on Retrium's website

“Retrium enables agile teams to have effective conversations, discover new insights, and generate action plans.”

Retro site: https://www.retrium.com/

Retros online: Retrium features

Overall, the Retrium Tool has 8.5 out of 10 core features of a retrospective tool (see toggle). 

Features to foster outputsFeatures to foster outcomes
☑️ Action item Support & Tracking⚠️ ROTI metric
⚠️ Flexible whiteboard or similar⚠️ Team Health Checks
☑️ Various retro methods☑️ Team Health Templates
☑️ Support of facilitator 
☑️ Effective timer 
☑️ Optional anonymity 
☑️ Intuitive UX & attractive design 

Action Item Management in Retrium – Scrum Retrospective Online Tool (Free)

retro tool action item

 

Measuring the ROTI Score in Retrium – Scrum Retrospective Online Tool (Free)

rear retro tool ROTI measurement

 

Preparation of the retro format – Scrum Retrospective Online Tool (Free)retrium retro tool formats

Pro & Cons: Retrium Tool for retrospectives

☀️ Pro's ☀️🌧 Con's 🌧
👍 Long list of features💔 Pricing rather high
👍 Basic team health check is integrated💔 No “free forever” option

Customer testimonial & Review Retrium

"Its was good. In general, it is a great software, very focused on the retrospective and also integrated with Jira. Nevertheless, the price is high and you can use other software cheaper or for free."

Luis, Head of SAP Procurement LAC Services in Germany (see Capterra)

Retrium Pricing, Free Trial & Access

  • Free trial: 30 days
  • Free version (after the free trial): No
  • Basic price (after the free trial): Beginning at 39$/team/month
Here you can find the whole Retrium pricing model and access to their free trial

Conclusion, Tips & Further Thoughts (Virtual Retrospective Tools)

Looking at this analysis, this tool deserves to be called one of the best retrospective tools for remote teams.

I think one of Retrium’s strengths is its clear UX. In my view it is simple to use. But one might ask: Is an iIntuitive UX even important? Or the question rather is, when is an intuitive UX important? When is an intuitive UX important?

I believe UX should play an important role when choosing the right online free retrospective tool, especially when you have a rather immature team using it. Immature teams are oftentimes skeptical when it comes to agile frameworks. They do not have a lot of patience and motivation to understand the tool at hand.

So for these kinds of teams, you should make sure to choose a fun retro online tool with a highly intuitive User Experience.

Let’s move to the last free retro tool.

Retrospective Tools Online | No. 7

Software Retrospective: Neatro

Neatro Review on Capterra - no reviews yet:
0/5

Quick intro on Neatro's website

“Neatro is an online retrospective tool made for remote teams willing to improve continuously and stay Agile.”

Neatro website: https://www.neatro.io/

Retros online: Neatro features

Overall, the Neatro Tool has 8 out of 10 core features of a retrospective tool (see toggle). 

Features to foster outputsFeatures to foster outcomes
☑️ Action item Support & Tracking⚠️ ROTI metric
⚠️ Flexible whiteboard or similar⚠️ Team Health Checks
☑️ Various retro methods☑️ Team Health Templates
☑️ Support of facilitator 
☑️ Effective timer 
☑️ Optional anonymity 
⚠️ Intuitive UX & attractive design 

The Retro Summary – Remote Retrospective Tools (Free)

netro retro summary

 

The Retro Check-In Screen – Remote Retrospective Tools (Free)
neatro retro tool check in

 

Preparing the Retro tool format – Remote Retrospective Tools (Free)neatro retro preparation

Pro & Cons: Neatro tool for retrospectives

☀️ Pro's ☀️🌧 Con's 🌧
👍 Long list of various retro formats💔 No “free forever” option
👍 Basic team health check is integrated 

Customer testimonial & Review Neatro

"Great tool to facilitate distributed Retropsectives"

Shannon H. (see g2.com)

Neatro Pricing, Free Trial & Access

  • Free trial: 30 days
  • Free version (after the free trial): No
  • Basic price (after the free trial): Beginning at 20$/team/month
Here you can find the whole Neatro pricing and access to their free trial

Conclusion, tips & further thoughts (Virtual Retrospective Tools)

Neatro - another team radar online tool, nice! Looking at this analysis, this tool deserves to be called one of the best retrospective tools for remote teams.

One more thing: Perceived psychological safety in agile teams correlates with team success. And sharing feedback anonymously is an easy way for less mature agile teams to learn psychological safety over time in a Scrum retrospective for remote teams.

Given this, I am very happy that Neatro and most of the other popular online retro tools (Scrum) offer the possibility of anonymous feedback. They are all an anonymous retrospective tool. This is by the way a disadvantage of many whiteboard tools like Miro and Mural that do not offer this feature, compared to the sprint retro apps we are discussing here.

Alright, we are through. That went quicker than expected. Now for those of you who want to better understand why exactly we compared these 10 core features of retro tools, you can find my rationale.

Deep Dive: What defines the best retro tools?

As mentioned above, to answer this question on the best retro tools (free), we should ask ourselves: What are the outputs and outcomes of retrospectives that we want to reach through this way? No matter if we use free retrospective tools for distributed Scrum teams or on-site ones…

Given this, let’s first align on what outcomes and outputs actually are.

  • Outcomes: Generally, outcomes are your overall goals, what the business wants to achieve. Example: The outcome of a change initiative is higher employee satisfaction.
  • Outputs: Outputs are the actions or specific elements that contribute to achieving this outcome. You could say they are the prerequisites or the operational tactics that are necessary to achieve the goal or outcome (i.e., which features a retrospective web tool offers). Example: The outputs of a change initiative are regular employee workshops.

Many argue that outcomes are more important than outputs. There even is a book called “Outcomes over outputs”. But in this text, given that we are comparing tools, I will not overemphasize the “outcome value” of the tools and simply act like both are equally important.

I will now specifically explain what the outcomes of retrospectives and outputs of any online agile retrospective tool should be. I will also give the specific features that - from my view - are directly connected to these outputs and outcomes.

For example: If we have an anonymous retrospective tool, what is actually the output behind it that I would expect?

sprint retrospective output vs. outcomes

Outputs of a retrospective tool

Here we go - overall I see 7 different outputs of retrospectives, online and offline.

  1. Action items: The online retro tool should take into account the 6th phase of a retrospective (see above, explanations for Easyretro aka Funretro).
    1. Feature: Action Item Support & Tracking.
  2. Fun, engagement and flexibility: This agile ceremony, compared to other ceremonies, can be engaging and fun. It should also be very flexible - the agenda might change due to urgent topics to discuss.
    1. Feature: Fun, interactive and flexible design (i.e., flexibility of a digital retro whiteboard).
  3. The right questions: The retrospective meeting tool should help to ask the right questions, adaptable to the team's needs.
    1. Feature: Varied templates with good questions to reflect on past sprints and improve the team.
  4. Efficiency: The agile retro tool to do retrospectives online should help to save time in preparation and follow-up of the retrospective.
    1. Features: Pre-defined templates, optional asynchronous survey, support in facilitation, the right integrations with other tools, automated action item follow up.
  5. Good time boxing: To keep the focus of the team and the ROTI “Return on time invest” in balance.
    1. Feature: Effective timer.
  6. Safe atmosphere: To be able to speak up and share ideas without the fear of being judged by colleagues
    1. Feature: Optional anonymity when sharing feedback.
  7. Professionalism: Being perceived as a professional facilitator to earn the trust that is needed to develop a team over a long time.
    1. Features: Professionally designed & working software with intuitive UX. Mobile support for hybrid teams.

You can find an image above that shows a quick summary of the features I am mentioning here that any good free retrospective tool online should have.

All of these outputs have an influence on the outcomes of the retrospective (for any retro online and offline).

Outcomes of a teams retro

I see 4 different outcomes of doing retrospectives online (or offline and in general).

  1. Continuous improvement: One of the core ideas of agile is to continuously improve - and the retrospective is the core ceremony to support this.
    1. Feature: Measuring the ROTI score, “Return on time invest” as indication for the perceived quality of a retrospective (correlating with whether one actually improves).
  2. Agile Mindset: Regularly experiencing the positive effect of retrospectives, i.e., improvements of teamwork, leads to a phenomenon called self-efficacy. This phenomenon can have a massive effect on the “believe in agile” methods, thus in the Agile growth mindset overall - more on this in the linked post.
    1. Feature: Team health checks (or I should rather say Team fitness checks) including analytics over time can be of great help to regularly show how the team improved regarding agile maturity over time.
  3. Team spirit: One outcome of retrospective’s should be increased happiness, motivation and satisfaction of team members (i.e., something you could call team spirit and morale, although these are not really psychological terms).
    1. Features: a good team fitness check (incl. psychological validity & reliability) not only measures how you develop, but also to reflect on the psychological preconditions of team spirit & morale (e.g., the agile values).
  4. Psychological safety: Psychological safety is a precondition for sharing one's ideas and thoughts openly, which is a precondition for learning and thus continuous improvement.
    1. Feature: Retrospective templates and questions that specifically foster psychological safety.

If you generally want to learn more about this, have a look at my post about 5 examples for outputs and outcomes of retros right now.

Now what’s pretty interesting: These outputs and outcomes match the overall impact of Agile Coaches pretty well, according to the State of Agile Q1/2022 (current year):

state of agile coaching report - retro tool

Thus, there is a reason why retrospectives are called the core ceremony in Scrum: They can help you solve the core challenges of Agile Coaches. Given these examples and facts, I hope you can see why many argue that outcomes are more important than outputs (in general, not only regarding Scrum retrospective for remote teams).

But anyway: you now know why I chose these 10 features as the core features of agile retro tools (free) that help to facilitate retrospectives online. For those who are interested, I am now explaining why I am claiming that we are comparing the 7 best retrospective tools.

Why are these the 7 “best" retro tools for your teams retro?

I wrote that these are the best retrospective tools for your teams retro and for running a retrospective remotely. Why am I claiming this - that they are the best?

Well, to be rather objective here, we tried to use numbers. In our case, we looked at website traffic. In the last months, these have been the pages with the highest traffic:

As you can see, the highest traffic overall have Parabol (red line) and easyretro (former FunRetro; purple line), then comes with some distance Echometer (blue) and the other tools to do retrospectives online - which are all on a similar level. I have to add that Neatro is not added here, simply because the Comparison tool we used for this (Ubersuggest) only allows you to compare 6 tools at the same time. I excluded it because Neatro has the least traffic from all the tools.

What you also cannot see: Of course, we compared many other retrospective tools to do retrospectives online (see below, the honorable mentions). Those simply had way less traffic compared to the 7 best tools we are talking about in this post - but they can still be a perfect fit for any Scrum retrospective for remote teams.

We also checked the traffic via Similarweb by the way, to have two different sources for the traffic data. It showed a similar pattern for the traffic of the Scrum retrospective tools. You can use Similarweb for free. So if you want to double check the traffic of the online retro tools on your own, feel free to do so.

Finally, it should be pointed out that higher traffic does not clearly prove that it is one of the “best” retro tools. However, for the purpose of this article, it served as a handy indicator as it was rather neutral.

Retrospective tools online: Some honorable mentions

To give you some names of which other retro tools we also checked in our traffic comparison (that might also be suitable for your teams retro), I added this section of honorable mentions. To find even more remote retrospective tools, feel free to jump into our retro board comparison post.

Online Retro Tool Alternative: Outro

“A new take on retrospectives for progressive teams.”

Outro website: https://outro.co/

What I like about it: Outro is a side project of Taylor and Danny from NYC who have a lot of experience with retrospectives. You can find their story and more about their tool on their website.

Online Retro Tool Alternative: GoRetro

“GoRetro is a user-friendly, fun and customizable agile retrospective tool that leverages sprint data and team sentiment to drive continuous improvement.”

GoRetro website: https://www.goretro.ai/

I haven’t tried this free online sprint retrospective tool, but it sounds and looks like a decent retrospective tool to do retrospectives online. Feel free to investigate on your own.

Online Retro Tool Alternative: Retrocat

“Easy peasy retros for you and your team.”

Retrocat website: https://retrocat.app/

Retrocat has all the basic functionalities of a free retrospective tool online. I didn’t dive deep enough to know how they perform on the core features I am mentioning above - but worth a look for sure. I have to admit: What I don’t get in case of this online sprint retrospective tool is the connection to cats…

Online Retro Tool Alternative: Miro

“Where teams get work done.”

Miro website: https://miro.com/

Okay, you have probably heard of Miro. It is probably the most popular digital whiteboard tool out there. Why am I mentioning it here? Because I know that many Agile Coaches and Scrum Masters use Miro for their free online retrospectives, using an online whiteboard for their remote retrospective.

Advantages: Many are used to the handling of a whiteboard tool. And it is very flexible.

Disadvantage: You simply cannot call it a online agile retrospective tool. It does not have many of the necessary features of a fun retro online tool, including anonymity, action item support, ROTI score and health checks.

If you are searching for an online whiteboard for a retrospective, I would rather go with Echometer or Metro Retro, as discussed above. Your choice which one you might go for!

Online Retro Tool Alternative: Scatterspoke

“Run Better Retros. Build Happier Teams.”

Scatterspoke website: https://www.scatterspoke.com/

Scatterspoke calls themselves a data-driven tool. Which (as you might have noticed) I really like because I believe it can be of great help when it comes to getting the necessary outcomes out of retrospectives. An online agile retrospective tool definitely worth keeping in mind.

Online Retro Tool Alternative: retros.work

“Get better team performance with online retrospectives.”

Retros.work website (pretty obvious): https://retros.work/

It looks like “retros.work” is a free retrospective tool online from a one-man-show in the Netherlands - not bad! For this reason alone this tool to do retros online is worth a look. After all these retro tools, let’s come to a conclusion.

Conclusion – Retro tool

The market for free retro tools is confusing. It makes it difficult for you to choose a tool. As my selection has shown you, many tools have their own approach to improving teamwork. At the same time, however, many tools also offer the same functions, so that it is often not clear at first glance which tool is suitable for which requirements.

This comparison post hopefully gave you a direction which retro online tool to choose. Of course, as we are the developers of one of these tools, we are biased in which tool we recommend. But I tried to explain our decision framework for this recommendation as logically as possible. Feel free to give us feedback on our rationale.

If you are looking for some fun retrospective questions, feel free to have a look at these 32 kickass retrospective ideas for beginners and pros.

By the way: One of the most effective ways to sustainably develop the agile mindset of teams is to carry out an agile health check. Our free 'team health check kit is there to help you implement it and ask the right questions. Just takes a minute to go through it 🙂

Have fun doing your next online retro - hopefully with the right tool!

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