Speed-up Your Daily Stand-ups While Keeping Them Effective

Speed-up Your Daily Stand-ups While Keeping Them Effective

If your Daily Stand-ups are taking longer than 15 minutes, you surely are doing something wrong. Whether it is people giving way too many details or trying to solve a task during the meeting, you cannot afford to keep them messy. It is slowing you down and hurting your budget.

Running effective Daily Stand-ups is an art and given so, you can master it through practice. You just got to be mindful of some principles and concepts to efficiently shape them.

Topics to check:

  1. What is the purpose of Daily Stand-ups?
  2. Aiming for the ideal Stand-up
  3. Round Robin vs. Walking the Board
  4. Stand-ups for remote teams

What is the purpose of Daily Stand-ups?

Concretely, it is “To inspect progress toward the Sprint Goal and adapt the Sprint Backlog as necessary, adjusting the upcoming planned work”, as written in the Scrum Guide. As mentioned, it should last no more than 15 minutes and the assistance list should include at least the main representatives for product management or owner, software development and testing. All of these means that the Stand-ups main outcomes should be: Understand which Backlog Items will the team work on during the day and draft an Action-Plan for the next day.

The session develops with attendees communicating relevant data of the current state of working items. Most Agile practitioners are familiarized with the set of 3 questions depicted in the infographic below, while advanced ones might customize theirs so it better serves a particular project needs.

In-person sessions can include some quick ‘warm-up’ activities, such as doing some easy exercise with the arms, just to reset everyone’s mindset and be ready. Even for remote ones, you should consider adding something similar.

On the other side, if you think automating them could be better for you, our Stand-Bot can help you do so with its asynchronous data collection and reporting features. It is definitely a power-up. Try it in here.

Aiming for the ideal Stand-up

The usage of Agile frameworks has broadened, eventually transcending software development and expanding to other types of teams and business goals. This has brought a massive array of best practices to adapt Stand-ups to different contexts From marketing to HR, their syncing features rely on the flow of relevant information and the establishment of a cadence that works for the project. You don’t need to do them daily. You could have them weekly or two sessions a week. We encourage you to experiment.

Regarding the agenda, there are some rudimentary but valuable cycles that you should not skip. Remember to:

  1. Greet everybody: Briefly introduce any new or special attendees.

  2. Recap the last meeting: What was solved and especially, what was not.

  3. General announcements: Any changes to the project that attendees should be aware of?

  4. Questions round: Learn what is everybody up to. Do not forget the blockers.

  5. Wrap-up: State what is the general progress expected for that day and some starting points for the next one.

While the session develops, deep discussions or problem-solving should never be allowed, as it elongates the meeting and can bring up topics that are not relevant for most people involved. Do not let that happen and always consider everybody’s time.

Check out some more tips from our in-house expert, Julio César González.

There you have some solid ideas on how to build better Stand-ups. There is a detail we have not yet mentioned, though: Is there a specific order in which attendees should participate? As everything Agile, it depends. However, take a look at this 2 methods that are broadly used and you should consider practicing.

Round Robin vs. Walking the Board

The most traditional way is to go through each person to learn his answers to the 3 questions. When in-person, you could add some kind of token that can be tossed around or try assigning turns based on specific criteria that could also work for remote sessions. This is known as Round Robin and it is used by many teams worldwide.

Our second recommendation is Walking the Board, a method that focuses on checking the Backlog items, starting with the ones closest to being completed, as finishing them enables the product to quickly start delivering value to the project, customer or user. In this way, you can focus on just one or two columns inside of your workboard and you could even make the sessions shorter.

Whichever method you choose, never forget that you can always customize the formula as long as you keep the basics.

Stand-ups for remote teams

We know hosting them remotely makes you think the hard difficulty setting is on. Especially since the outbreak of Covid-19, teams have not had an easy time keeping collaborative work as effective as before. Even with the vaccination campaigns across the world going on, several relevant companies, such as Microsoft, do see value in hybrid-work, which is a mix of remote and in-person work models. It has also encouraged many companies to run more successful abroad recruitment programs.

That said, you better get your remote Stand-ups effectively going on. Apply all the ideas listed below but consider inherent possible issues, such as attendees not willing to turn on their cameras, potentially reducing overall engagement; or sloppy connections that may prevent someone from properly hearing what has been said or even from looking at the shared screen.

The easy way to overcome said issues and keep things flowing with proper communication is to use the help of Stand-Bot. Developed by SoftwareDevTools, this bud is able to:

  • Give you a quick overview of everyone’s status by asking them the 3 questions, even if they are in different time-zones.
  • Show historic reports on all the data that gathers. You can download them in PDF or CSV formats.
  • Notify about any blockers through Slack in real time.
  • It works with Slack commands, so you can easily plug and play.

Look at it in action:

Stand-Bot has been an invaluable ally for many teams. It is so effective that even some of them have replaced their Daily Stand-up meetings with it. They say it is an absolute time-saver. You might want to give it a chance.


Highlights summary

  • Daily stand-ups are totally useful when done right. If you keep them within the recommended time-box (15 minutes) and focus on acknowledging blockers, you are on the right track.

  • Keeping stand-ups short serves to focus on what really matters, excluding extensive discussions or bragging about accomplishments, preventing it to become a waste.

  • Remember the three basic questions asked at a stand-up meeting: What did you do yesterday? / What will you do today? / Is anything blocking your progress?

Are you adopting or looking to improve your Agile practices? Is your team remote? If your answer to any of these questions is ‘yes’, you should check out our products for distributed teams. We focus on making communication more effective and easier for remote teams.

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