Daily standups are an essential agile ceremony that helps teams efficiently plan and strategize what they will do for the day and look for solutions to problems they may be facing. These meetings are a refreshing change from traditional office meetings and are intended to be quick and improve collaboration.
Despite the true definition of stand-ups, it’s common for them to be time-consuming, tedious, and responsible for interrupting workflow. Because of this, teams often end up despising stand-up meetings and think of them as a waste of time.
Why do Stand-up Meetings?
To project managers, stand-ups may seem like a necessary evil. It’s no secret that stand-up meetings work and are proven to increase efficiency. Still, keeping your employees satisfied with the “agile way of working” is essential to ensure they remain competitive and satisfied with their jobs.
Following best practices and using software standup tools can help improve the efficiency of daily stand-ups by automating them and ensuring you and your team get the maximum benefit from-up meetings.
In this article, we’ll discuss what a daily stand-up is, its importance, challenges, and some best practices to run more effective daily stand-up meetings. In the end, we’ll look at some tools to help you consistently follow and automate some best practices to maintain the efficiency of your meetings.
Quick Recap: What is a Daily Stand-up Meeting?
Daily standups are short 15-minute meetings conducted at the start of every day where all members of a scrum team come together to keep each other updated on their progress and decide what to tackle for the day.
These meetings are effective for keeping the entire team on the same page and getting an idea of how everyone is progressing through the sprint.
In a daily stand-up meeting, every developer of the scrum team is encouraged to participate and update others on their progress. The Scrum master is responsible for keeping these short by time-boxing them for no more than 15 minutes to ensure their effectiveness.
Benefits of Daily Standups in an Agile Organization
As a project manager, you may already have an idea about the benefits that daily stand-ups offer your business. However, team members might see these meetings as boring, repetitive, or wasting time.
To cater to the needs of your team members and help them move away from this attitude, project managers should consider employees' feedback and better educate their teams about the benefits daily stand-ups offer.
There was once a time when team members were expected to sit through endless talking, reports, and an hour of people pushing their projects into the limelight. This contributed little to no value to an organization. It’s no wonder why almost every employee used to sit in those meetings and think, “I could be getting so much done today if this meeting hadn’t taken place.”
Daily standup meetings solve this problem by forcing people to drag the conversation no longer than 15 minutes. Each stand-up has an obvious objective for every individual: tell what they did yesterday, what they'll be tackling today, and discuss any obstacles that prevent them from getting work done.
If some team members seem interested in a specific issue, they can continue the discussion after the daily scrum in their offices, allowing others to continue their work.
By meeting daily and discussing each other’s work, progress, goals, and problems, team members better understand each other's strengths and weaknesses. This helps them better collaborate and be able to make well-informed decisions together.
As collaboration is a big part of agile effectiveness, it’s not hard to consider it a clear benefit of stand-up meetings. By collaborating, teams can better understand each other’s issues and help remove bottlenecks from the process by discussing solutions in the stand-up meeting.
Encourages Positive Team Building
Consistently participating in stand-ups and contributing to conversations can encourage a positive work culture where teams form habits of working together and looking to team members for any advice or help with problems they may be facing.
This can foster a collaborative environment where team members can improve their team-building skills and work more efficiently and productively as a team. It also helps better evaluate sprints when team members know each other well because they can accurately estimate the sprint goal, how long it would take them to complete tasks, etc.
Common Pitfalls in Daily Stand-up Meetings that Agile Teams are Frustrated About
There are many benefits a daily standup meeting has to offer, but if done wrong, agile teams may get frustrated from these daily meetings and fail to see any value in them.
Here are some common challenges of daily standup meetings:
No Clear Purpose, Meetings Take Too Long
You’ll often find teams not contributing much to the daily standup and “just getting on with it” so they can cross it off their to-do list. This happens when there’s no clear purpose, and each team member just shares their progress, which may not be related to the task.
Since there isn’t a clear agenda, daily meetings can go on and on where team members are just telling others about their work and progress and conveying no real value - turning the daily stand-up into a generic meeting.
The Scrum master should take note of this and try to separate teams into groups of related work so that people who aren’t taking on the same type of work can make better use of their time. Clear guidelines should also be established for each meeting to ensure it stays under 15 minutes and team members stay on topic.
Not Establishing a Clear Leader
A person has to be responsible for keeping the agile standup meeting on track and organized. This is usually the product owner or scrum master.
Scrum masters or product owners need to make clear guidelines and issue a consistent agenda to be followed. This could mean enforcing a rule that each team member can only discuss three core points briefly to avoid going into too much detail.
Also, having and maintaining a standup routine helps. The leaders should create a routine that lists out what topics teams are expected to discuss and how to determine whose turn it is to speak. This will aid in avoiding awkward silences or communication overlaps.
Not Learning from Past Mistakes
The whole point of a standup meeting is to discuss where team members are standing to help them brainstorm solutions to improve their workflow. If a team member talks about a problem they’re facing and repeats it without any progress by the next standup, that’s an issue.
Teams should be open to collaborating and offer a helping hand to their struggling teammates. Encourage your team to collaborate by informing them how one person's success is linked to the success of the entire project.
Not Documenting Tasks or Bottlenecks
A project management tool is essential as it lets you document user stories and story points. Please document tasks effectively and display them in your standup meetings to ensure the team is able to evaluate their performance effectively.
Projects should be consistently documented and displayed in meetings. This allows for discussion on whether the team could complete user stories within the estimated story points and identify any blockers they may have faced.
Best Practices for Effective Stand-up Meetings
Simply telling your team the benefits of a standup meeting and understanding the challenges they face won’t be worth anything unless you implement action-driven steps to manage your standups effectively.
Below are some best practices to help you and your team reap the maximum benefits from standup meetings:
Have a Fixed Time
Standup meetings should be a top priority for every agile organization. For this reason, standups must have a fixed time and place to keep meetings consistent and make team members commit to this schedule.
Make Sure All Members are Present
All team members must participate and be present for a standup meeting to be effective. Team members discuss their problems and update others on their work status. If a team member happens to be absent, they could miss out on an opportunity to help others or steer off-track of the project scope.
The Agile Manifesto emphasizes face-to-face communication within teams, so it’s important to ensure every team member participates and listens to others, and communicates themselves. As discussed above, a way to enforce this would be to have a fixed time for the meetings and put up reminders/alerts for teams to be there on time.
Establish a Clear Leader
Before the standup takes place, a clear leader should be established. A Scrum master is usually the first choice as they are respected and have authority above the development team. They are also responsible for keeping in check to ensure they follow the Scrum model effectively.
The leader should create criteria for the standup, listing out a few guidelines, such as:
- Discuss only 2-3 points.
- Don’t go into too much detail about a point.
- Help others with their problems.
- Start and end the meeting together as a team.
- Always show up on time for the meeting.
- Don’t drag the meeting for over 15 minutes.
- Ensure two-way communication.
- If the conversation needs to be extended, do so after the meeting.
The leader should also plan the standup by creating a flexible routine that team members can easily follow.
Keep It Short
As mentioned previously, the standup should be 15 minutes at maximum. It’s one of the main reasons it’s called a “standup,” as teams are forced to make themselves uncomfortable by standing for a long time.
How long your team takes may also depend on the size. If you have a small team, they can discuss their main points in around 5 minutes, but a larger team may take up more time.
As the leader of the standup, the Scrum master should ensure that teams don’t take longer than 15 minutes, regardless of size. If you have a big team with many workers, you can divide them into groups of related work areas so that each group logs in their 15 minutes while staying on track with the bigger picture in mind.
Meet with Purpose
The leader should moderate the standups and inform team members of the purpose of the meeting. They should ensure that the guidelines are followed in every meeting, and that team members have a good idea of why they’re discussing each item.
How to Manage Daily Standups for Remote Teams
Daily standups may be better managed by following best practices for synchronous meetings, where teams meet in person or through video arriving at the time. However, what about remote teams where workers might be in different time zones?
Asynchronous meetings can be a viable way to manage standups for remote teams. These types of meetings don’t require people to communicate in real-time and could instead log their answers to standup questions, discussing these points later on.
This may sound impractical, but standup tools are making it possible to manage the daily standup for remote teams effectively. Big companies like Zapier have also stated that they use a daily standup tool to host asynchronous meetings and have seen many advantages.
You’ll learn how to do the same with your remote teams by discussing some software standup tools to help host better standups.
Best Software Standup Tools to Effectively Manage a Daily Stand-up Meeting
Knowing and implementing the best practices is one thing, but a more effective way to consistently follow these practices is to use a daily standup tool to help streamline your daily standups.
Some of the best software standup tools to effectively manage your daily standup include:
- Friday App
ScrumGenius is a daily standup app that integrates with Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Cisco Webex and is used by the likes of Lenovo, PayPal, and Microsoft. With it, you can easily create and manage asynchronous meetings and automate daily standups.
Thanks to goal & blocker tracking features, you can track and monitor progress on meetings and ensure transparency across teams. It’s great for remote teams as it conducts asynchronous meetings and offers various integrations to suit every organization’s needs.
GeekBot is a versatile standup tool to automate daily standups and is used by many renowned brands, including Sony, Shopify, GitHub, Airbnb, and more. Teams can use GeekBot to type updates and answers to standup questions quickly. These can then be created and monitored as a thread for further discussion.
With GeekBot, managing remote teams is easier as you can set timezone preferences and reminders for members to complete their answers. Finally, responses to standups are automatically recorded, which can be turned into data for visual presentations.
Friday app is an asynchronous standup management software that makes it easy to manage meetings. It integrates with Slack and Email and includes standup templates to help you get started.
This app is excellent because of its reference and reporting tools. Teams can refer to the work they’ve logged and completed to reference it before adding their answers. It makes communication within remote teams easy and seamless.
An agile stand-up meeting can be a great way to improve collaboration and transparency within teams. As teams discuss daily what work they completed yesterday and today and what issues they’re facing, they can streamline meetings by saving time and fostering a collaborative work culture.
However, despite the benefits of standup meetings, teams often face challenges that lead to dissatisfaction with these meetings. By following best practices, project managers and scrum masters can maximize the benefits of standup meetings.
Managing standups can be difficult as not everything is in the scrum master’s control, like ensuring the active participation of each team member. To ensure consistency in standups, daily standup tools like ScrumGenius, GeekBot, and Friday App can be used to schedule meetings asynchronously to make sure all teams, including remote teams, can participate in the daily standup.