Daily Stand-Up: How to Run and Best Practices with Expert Tips

Daily Stand-Up
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Thomas Sowell once said, ‘People who enjoy meetings should not be in charge of anything’. 🙂

By the way, Daily Stand-up aka Daily Scrum is not called out as a meeting, as the makers are smart and they quote it as an ‘event’ which will lead to minimizing the meetings not mentioned in the Scrum Guide. We have still used the daily stand-up ‘meeting’ terminology to align with the popular parlance and to make it easier for people to discover this blog.

Firstly, let us clarify that there is no mention of the keyword Daily Stand-up in the Scrum Guide 2020 version. We would be very surprised if somebody gets into so much aesthetics as it will take the focus away from the value proposition and distract us towards some practice which has just one benefit -> ‘Stand, otherwise, you won’t be attentive and talk for long’.

Over time, Daily Scrum is synonymous with Daily Standup. Henceforth, while you read the blog below, please be assured that both are the same for us and we also do not endorse you to stand mandatorily in your scrum event. 🙂

In the software development context, Agile and many of the agile frameworks focus on delivering working software frequently. Not just some software but also software with business and value-driven functionalities sprint after sprint. Certain practices become very important for this to happen in a complex and uncertain environment. Not from a perspective of being religiously followed but due to the great benefit that comes with the discipline and rigor of following these practices.

Every practice has a purpose, outcome, and intention. One such practice of Agile methodology and Scrum framework, in particular, is Daily Stand Up or DSM. The Daily Stand-up meeting is not a traditional status meeting, especially the one used by project managers to get updates on project status. A daily stand-up meeting is held to communicate the status of the sprint by the development team. 

The intent is to synchronize, inspect, adapt, and plan daily to help the development team do their work better. This blog aims to showcase everything about A daily Standup meeting. This event is also called Team Huddle, Daily Checkpoint Meeting, Daily Status Update, etc. These terms are coined by organizations to tailor to their language or needs.  

We have attempted to answer the below questions, which are regularly asked from us in our consulting and coaching engagements.

What are daily stand-up meetings?

What should be the ideal duration of a daily stand-up call?

How to finalize the daily stand-up agenda?

How should this daily meeting or DSM be conducted?

What is the relevance of daily stand-up in Agile?

Do we have a standard daily stand-up format?

What are some of the daily stand-up best practices?

Is there a daily stand-up meeting template I can use?

Is there something called daily stand-up agile?

We will attempt to answer these and a few other queries about DSM in this blog, let’s dive in.

What is a stand-up meeting in Agile?

Agile focuses on close collaboration, periodic inspection of the work committed, and adaptation to changes.  For such inspection, the team periodically checks the progress of their work, focusing collectively on how they can complete the work items planned for that sprint and if needed course correct to accomplish the sprint goal. 

It is recommended that the team meet every day at the same place and time throughout the sprint, sprint after sprint to enable this collaboration, engagement, inspection, and adaptation. This event or meeting is simply called a Daily Stand-Up meeting.

Have you ever wondered why it is termed as a Daily standup call? The ‘stand-up’ is to remind you to stand up and not to settle down in your seats and get comfortable. The daily stand-up meeting should be time-bound and the focus should be on getting done with the meeting, making it focussed and effective.

A Daily stand-up meeting is a time-boxed ceremony or event that is part of the Scrum framework. Scrum is based on values of honesty, openness, trust, collaboration, etc. These values are ingrained in all the Scrum events and one of the events is the Daily Stand-up meeting. Scrum, as a term, is derived from the sport Rugby. It means working closely and tightly together with heads down, completely focussed on the completion of the goal.

Let’s see below how the Scrum team conducts a DSM and what happens in a Daily stand-up meeting. These are the daily stand-up best practices that should be followed. 

What do the Scrum development team members do during this Stand-up call?

  1. Development team members ( Developers and QA) talk about the status of their user story/work item 
  2. The team members focus on how much of the work is remaining and the expected time of completion of their work item/user story. In case the team members forecast completion of the work on the same day then the next work item they plan to pick will be updated
  3. The team members during a Daily Scrum call also highlight any risks or issues they have identified while working on their work items
  4. The focus of this Daily standup meeting for every team member is to let everyone know

where they stand wrt to their work item, ask for help if needed to take the work item to completion, and provide help or clarity to other team members to accomplish the sprint goal.

Daily Stand up call is a time-boxed event. The maximum daily standup meeting duration for an ideal team size of 10 is 15 minutes. The events and duration of an iteration in Scrum are all time-boxed. As Agile projects are uncertain in nature, the concept of timeboxing helps to bring some level of order and consistency in such a highly variable work environment. This is the significance of daily stand-up in Agile.

Daily Stand-up meetings offer daily opportunities to assess progress, gather feedback, and control the deviations from the committed sprint goal.

Why is Stand-up Important?

Once the Sprint starts after the completion of the sprint planning and the work is underway during an iteration, the development team continues the planning process on a daily level by holding daily stand-up meetings or daily stand-up calls. Short, focused team huddles are in a way used as daily planning mechanisms.

daily stand up meetings

Here’s why the daily stand-up calls are important:

  1. Keep everyone Focused on the agreed-upon scope and sprint goal
  2. Daily meetings act as Early warning indicators for risks and issues allowing the development team to solve before they can derail the team’s progress towards achieving the sprint goal.
  3. Bring Alignment towards one shared objective 
  4. Promote Focus as the meeting is short and structured in a way to discuss only work-in-progress items that are aligned with the sprint goal
  5. Brings Transparency as everyone knows what the others are working on as and when the team progresses. The ALM tools like JIRA, Rally, and Azure DevOps are used to showcase daily progress. This means the data is made available to everyone
  6. A sense of Shared Accountability in achieving the sprint goal is established

Types of Agile stand-up meetings.

In Agile ways of working, stand-up meetings have different nomenclature based on the chosen framework, needs of the project, etc. The Official Scrum guide refers to” Daily Stand-up meetings” as “Daily Scrum” event & not meeting. Whether it is Scrum or Extreme programming or a routine agile project status call such meetings intend to figure out daily progress towards the committed goal, identify blockers, and resolve them ASAP – essentially a clear pathway for the teams. In essence, there isn’t more than one type of Agile stand-up meeting, though they might be termed differently in various contexts.

How to run a daily standup?

Here are some rules of engagement for running a daily stand-up or a basic daily meeting format:

  1. The daily stand-up meeting agenda must be published well in advance
  2. Ensure the daily stand-up participants – Product Owner, Scrum Master, and the Development team are present in every stand-up call
  3. Ensure the call starts on time 
  4. Start the Daily Scrum call, in alphabetical order, or use a Robin method or any other creative way to keep the fun element intact.
  5. Every team member gives an update by answering these 3 questions using the below format.
    1. What did I  do yesterday that helped in meeting the sprint goal
    2. What will I do today to meet the Sprint goal?
    3. Are there any impediments in your way that prevent me or the development team from meeting the Sprint goal?
  6. Every team member talks about his / her user stories/work items progress and also flags off blockers coming his/her way
  7. The Product Owner can choose to check the progress made by the team toward the sprint goal once everyone completes talking about the progress made
  8. If any course corrections have to be made or one needs technical or functional clarity on any elements, flag it during the daily stand-up meeting to take it up post-meeting
  9. Make note of follow-up tasks that arise during the stand-up. Scrum Master must ensure these are assigned to the appropriate team member
  10. Daily Stand call ends when everyone completes talking about their work items 

Common mistakes and best practices for daily standup meetings.

Everyone following Agile and using the Scrum framework diligently runs the daily stand-up meeting. Unfortunately, these end up being long-drawn, boring, namesake meetings. The reason most of the time the Daily Stand-up meetings (DSM) don’t give the expected outcome is because the intent of the Daily Stand-up is not set in the first place. Teams use DSM to tick off boxes and to collect information about what everyone is doing.

When teams call this event a team status update meeting the essence of the DSM is lost. It must be made very clear that the Daily Stand-up Meetings are events where teams get an opportunity every single day for a fixed short duration to hear out how other team members are progressing with their work items and offer help wherever needed. Everyone must be aware that during this event team members have the opportunity to check the progress made by them towards the sprint goal. This is an opportunity to check if a lesser-priority work item has to be parked and if something else of more priority is to be picked as part of course correction. 

Here are a few common mistakes that must be avoided to reap the benefits of a Daily Stand meeting:

  1. Not starting and closing the daily stand-up call on time
  2. Waiting for all the participants to join thereby delaying the meeting
  3. Focusing only on the 3 questions and missing out on understanding how much work is remaining to meet the sprint goal
  4. Getting into lengthy technical discussions even before everyone completes their updates thereby digressing from the intent, not following the daily stand-up agenda, and losing interest
  5. Other stakeholders who are there to understand the progress provide their status when it is irrelevant to the development team
  6. Allowing stakeholders other than the Product Owner or Scrum Master to intrude into the status updates even before the completion of updates by the entire team thereby prolonging the daily stand-up meeting
  7. Interrupting the team on questions or issues not pertinent to the planned sprint backlog
  8. Resolving issues that were identified during the daily stand-up call instead of taking them after the meeting
  9. Keeping the updates succinct

Avoiding these aforementioned mistakes can make the Daily Standup meeting more purposeful and eventful. They are the top anti-patterns we encounter while we implement agile in organizations as an agile consulting company providing agile transformation services. Having seen the pitfalls to avoid, let’s look at some best practices that have to be borne in mind:

  1. At any point of time if there is awkward silence just before the meeting start with an icebreaker.
  2. Drive the status updates randomly or use round Robin method or take the alphabet route to bring randomness
  3. Keep the ALM tool like JIRA updated with pertinent status before the meeting
  4. Announce if there is a planned leave the following day to everyone to plan any work in your absence 
  5. Use the Burndown chart during the Daily standup meeting to focus on how much work is remaining
  6. In case of scope creep, raise it with the Product Owner to check the repercussions
  7. Team members upon completion of their updates should stay on in the meeting pay close attention to other’s updates and offer help if it needed and they can help.

Stand-up meetings for distributed teams

Daily stand-up for co-located teams must be conducted at the same place and time.  In the case of distributed teams coming together in one meeting room isn’t possible. In such cases where the team members are geographically distributed, virtual daily standup calls are the only option. Below are some pointers for effective virtual daily stand-up meetings:

  1. Decide the most convenient time for all the team members
  2. Ensure the video is turned on for the entire daily meeting 
  3. As the team member gives the update open the team scrum board in the ALM to stay focussed
  4. In case of audio issues instead of stretching the meeting, update the status in the chat window to keep everyone informed

Better meetings create better projects

Meetings are booked for a certain amount of time for a reason. When you attend a meeting or an event just because it is part of your calendar and have no input, the meeting loses its meaning. The time spent by the other attendees and the host is simply wasted as the planned outcome wasn’t achieved.

Most of the time team members use meetings as a reason to clarify everything that’s been pending, as a social event, a place to discuss everything apart from the objective.  

If the meetings are planned well the outcomes will be far superior. Below are a few pointers to make meetings effective thereby leading to better projects by fostering collaboration, communication, and alignment among the participants:

  1. Set the expectations of the meeting, and the agenda well in advance so that everyone understands the purpose of the meeting
  2. Keep the content short and crisp. Regular check-ins help everyone to be on the same page about the project’s progress
  3. Discuss issues openly if it is part of the agenda
  4. Respect everyone’s time, start and end the meetings on time
  5. If the agenda is to discuss ideas or solve a problem, brainstorm using various techniques to ensure everyone is involved and heard
  6. Hold team members accountable for their commitments and progress

Conclusion

Conducting a daily stand-up meeting is an art. A little randomness to make it interesting and keeping the conversations succinct and to the point is the key to an outcome-oriented and focused daily stand-up meeting. Inspect and adapt, one of the core agile tenets applies to Daily Stand Up meetings. The outcome of this event is an updated sprint backlog.  Daily stand-up meetings are not the only time when team members meet up to discuss the updates but also to adjust the plan toward achieving their sprint goal. They can meet as often as required for more detailed discussions.

Hope you liked this blog. Reach out to us at consult@benzne.com for any support in designing and implementing your agile transformation journey.Agile Transformations are not rocket science, they should be simple, easily scalable, and an existing fun journey with a positive impact on the business value. As an agile consulting firm,we endeavor to simplify this journey for you so that you can focus on your core work area. 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is not expected during daily stand-up meetings in Agile?

Many times Project managers or tech leads participate in Daily standup just to understand the progress but also intervene and ask questions during the meeting thus prolonging the meeting. This is not expected during such meetings as the questions may not be relevant to other team members. Daily stand-up meetings are not meant for lengthy discussions around user stories or technicalities.

2. What are the three questions in an Agile daily standup meeting?

During a Daily stand up meeting every team member excluding the scrum master and the Product Owner is expected to the below 3 questions:

  1. What did you do yesterday?
  2. What will you do today?
  3. Are there any impediments in your way?

The above-stated questions are considered as a format for the daily stand-up agenda. The idea of a DSM should be to understand everyone’s progress, and check if the interdependencies on the user stories are causing any delay, any unplanned leave which may affect progress and thus delay the achievement of the sprint goal. What else needs to be done to achieve the Sprint goal, and how much work is remaining to get to the goal should be the focus areas. The questions listed above help in staying focussed. We have also included a sample daily stand-up meeting template or a daily stand-up format in this blog, which will help you prepare for the daily meeting.

3. What is the best duration of daily standup meetings?

Maximum of 15 mins is the best duration for a daily stand-up meeting. This duration is best for team size from 3-10 people. As the team size becomes bigger the scope for collaboration and focus becomes lesser. In a DSM big group means more confusion and less attention to detail. This is the best practice to maintain that duration. If the meetup ends in clarity for everyone and if it finishes early it is alright to end the DSM before the 15-minute duration. The other way also holds good. If the team members need more clarifications they can continue to stay on and extend the DSM provided they announce the updates have been completed and relevant participants who need clarification stay on while the rest leave the meeting.

4. What is a daily scrum vs stand-up meeting?

Daily Scrum Meeting is the term used by the Scrum Guide. This is one of the five events/ceremonies followed in Scrum Framework which focuses on checking every day if the sprint goal that was committed during the Sprint planning meeting can be achieved. This meeting is “for the Development Team” and “ by the Development Team. Daily Stand-up meeting or daily meeting is simply another name for the daily scrum meeting.       

5. How do I prepare for a daily standup?

Following are a few prerequisites for running a Daily Standup meeting:

  1. Find a time slot for the DSM by obtaining consensus from the entire team
  2. Ensure the Daily stand-up is not at the end of the day for one team and early in morning for another distributed team. Find a mid path by discussing with all the team members
  3. In the case of co-located team members avoid the DSM as soon as the day starts at work. 
  4. The ideal slot would be after all the team members arrive comfortably and settle down. The idea is not to miss out on any latecomers in a DSM.
  5. Roll out the calendar invites and mark everyone except the team members as optional. 
  6. In case you require some stakeholders on specific days send out a request for attendance separately
  7.  User stories, tasks, and work items on the ALM tool must reflect the right status. 
  8.  Arrive a minute or two earlier than the scheduled time

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