A Helpful Guide to Daily Standup Scrum Meetings

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The daily standup meeting is a critical element of scrum teams. Its simplicity and benefits have even attracted the attention of practitioners of waterfall development.

The term “daily standup” originated from Extreme Programming (XP) while the term “daily scrum meeting” goes back to Scrum, of course. One should note that both XP and Scrum derived the concepts of daily meetings from software pioneer Jim Coplien and his paper on the Quattro Pro spreadsheet program.

In the simplest sense, a daily standup meeting is accomplished by having team members stand around in a circle with each person answering a few questions. But wait, life is not as simple as it sounds, and there are certain rules to be followed during these meetings. The rules cover the team’s time commitments, location of the meeting, and the meeting’s overall rigour, all of which make up the secret sauce for success.

Holding a standup meeting in a collocated environment is simple compared to holding a meeting with distributed teams, in which you need to be cognizant of time zone differences and language barriers. The use of tools—teleconferencing technology, webcams, and instant message software—can help you deal with remote teams. For more help on that front, you can read the Practical Guide to Distributed Scrum, which provides an overview of different tools and their associated pros and cons.

Most people recommend holding the meetings in the morning, keeping in mind what time the last team member arrives for the event. For some, noon seems to work as well.

As agile coach Rachel Davies explains, scrum meetings are not only about sharing yesterday’s work, but they are designed to help team members plan for the day and look to the future. If you’re working in a distributed environment, you might find help in this guide by Rally, which discusses fine tuning your meetings.

Keep in mind that there are several ways that daily scrum meetings can result in trouble for your project. For example, team members might stop attending the meetings or they could even complain that the meetings do not add any value or are a waste of time. The worst is when people make this a status update meeting.

There are several ways to fix these troublesome issues, including reinforcing the values and principles behind the meetings. Also, remember that command-and-control management issues might lead to many people-related problems, and you’ll need to address those issues if they apply to you.

Finally, if you still are having issues with standup meetings, Jason Yip, a principal consultant at ThoughtWorks, recommends a few good tips, like rotating the facilitators, breaking too much eye contact, and using improvement boards.

What are your thoughts on what makes for an efficient daily standup or daily scrum meeting?

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Venkatesh Krishnamurthy

Venkatesh Krishnamurthy is an author, speaker and a coach. In his 15+ years of career in the software industry, he has played different roles as a developer, architect and an Agile coach.