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Last Updated Date May 25, 2021 |

Challenge

Daily stand-up meetings are common practice in Agile software development, but there are certain guidelines to attain the real benefits failing which the meetings will be a waste of time. This article describes the purpose of daily-stand up, how to effectively handle it, and tools that can be utilized in a daily stand-up meeting for overall efficiency.

This article focuses on practices for co-located teams that can meet in person. Different tools and techniques are required in order to conduct daily standup meetings with distributed teams which is out of scope for this document.

Description

What is a Daily Standup?

A Daily Standup meeting is a meeting that occurs every working day during the sprint in a project based on Agile methodologies. This meeting is used to communicate problems, solutions, promote team focus and share status with team members. The stand-up meeting provides everybody with an overview of where the team stands and it acts as a communication vehicle between team members. The intent is not to give a complete inventory of everything happening in the project or a status update to management or other stakeholders.

The meeting is usually held at the same time and place and in-person. Each person should say a few sentences about their status. One or two minutes per person would normally suffice. More detailed problem-solving discussions should take place in smaller meetings with only the people involved. Standup meetings are usually time-boxed to 15 minutes or less and are often held with the attendees standing up in order to reinforce the idea of keeping the meeting short and to the point.

All team members are encouraged to attend; although the meetings are not postponed if some of the team members are not present. The structure of the meeting, the focus on immediate activities and roadblocks, deferring detailed follow-up conversations to separate sessions after the meeting, and identifying issues upfront are the key differences between daily standup  meetings and regular status meetings. Also this practice promotes closer working relationships among team members due to its frequency and it also results in more rapid resolution of issues or roadblocks.

What is Discussed in the Daily Standup?

The purpose of the meeting is to discuss YTO topics (i.e., Yesterday, Today and Obstacles). More commonly all team members should answer three questions:

  • What was done since yesterday?
  • What will be done by today?
  • What obstacles are in the way that slow down progress?

These are the minimum and sufficient questions that satisfy the goals of daily standups. All other topics should be deferred until after the meeting. It is the Scrum Master’s responsibility to facilitate a resolution to these issues.

The answers to YTO questions will help the team to promote a focus on work, provide a quick glance at project status and identify obstacles and solutions for the project. All these items lead to the use of a project wall.

Project Wall or Kanban Board

The project wall or kanban board is an essential mechanism for Agile communication. It is also termed or structured in various other forms such as improvement board, blockage board, huddle board and burn down charts and calendars.

A project wall can be effectively used as a proper story board by using "post-its" and markings on the white board. This should be a publicly visible whiteboard that identifies the obstacles and tracks the progress of their resolution. This board can be updated outside of standups and serves as a more immediate and perhaps less confrontational way to initially raise obstacles.

At the beginning of the sprint, tasks are listed on the project wall and progress is updated every day by marking the completed tasks and by tracking the backlog. This will help the team members to visualize the current status of the project. The project wall is primarily updated based on the team member’s answers to the questions that are addressed in the “What is Discussed in the Daily Standup?”

The Kanban board or project wall designs vary, but a good one exhibits the following characteristics:

  • Updates are made by the team members who are performing the work
  • It is highly visible and accessible by everyone
  • It is highly transparent about progress, issues, backlog and events or milestones
  • It contains a section focused on training, staff development and team morale
  • It enables team members and management to quickly identify bottlenecks

It can attain these characteristics by capturing the following information during the daily stand ups:

  • To-do items
  • In progress items
  • Completed items

Problems and opportunities for improvement should also be listed on the project wall with an A3 Problem Solving page for each problem that is actively being worked.

A variety of methods can be used to track team morale. For example, if the project wall is magnetic, the team could secure a supply of magnetic happy faces and sad faces and every day each team member selects one that reflects their current level of frustration or satisfaction and posts it on the wall.

Conclusion

Daily standups are at the heart of a scrum development. These meetings are essential and help to minimize project documentation, quickly address issues as they arise and maintain a rapid development pace due to frequent in-person communications.

 

 

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