Managing projects comes with its fair share of challenges. From difficult stakeholders to resource shortages, a project manager must know how to navigate tricky situations. What makes it even more challenging is the fact that project managers...
Conducting a Daily Scrum meeting is a tradition many teams follow. Some of them see tangible results of these meetings, while others struggle to keep the momentum going. Perhaps you are in one of those groups or maybe you don’t even organize daily standups for your Scrum team. Today, we’ll try to show you ways in which you can get started with or improve your team’s Daily Scrum.
Let’s start by referring to the Scrum Guide, which is a great source of information about all things Scrum, Scrum meetings included. It defines daily Scrum as a “15-minute time-boxed event for the Development Team. The Daily Scrum is held every day of the Sprint. At it, the Development Team plans work for the next 24 hours.”
Looking at this definition, the Daily Scrum meeting seems fairly straightforward. Subtle details, however, may derail your team meetings and turn them into unproductive status updates. In order to get to the bottom of this, we’ll start by recapping the goals of these daily meetings.
What is the goal of Daily Scrum meetings?
The Daily Scrum is an opportunity for your team to:
- Inspect progress toward the Sprint goal. That should be the emphasis of your team’s standups: where are we in relation to the current Sprint’s goal?
- Synchronize activities and plan the next 24 hours. Pay attention to that, because you’ll soon see that this goal of a Daily Scrum meeting is often neglected and instead people focus on the work that has already been done.
- Identify impediments that could halt the progress of work. On paper, it’s great that team members get an opportunity to revisit problems every day. It gives everyone a head start and a chance to address them before they escalate. In reality, some teams, unfortunately, tend to ignore this part of the Daily Scrum meetings.
- Eliminate other meetings. When you establish a plan for the next 24 hours in 15 minutes, you save a lot of meeting time. Make sure to check our guide to effective meeting management and learn how to make your non-Scrum meetings productive as well.
- Foster transparency and improve communication. A Daily Scrum meeting is an excellent way for your team to get a clear understanding of what’s going on in the project and discuss a strategy to achieve the Sprint goal.
Should a Scrum master be present during the Daily Scrum?
The Scrum master’s role is to make sure that every team member understands the purpose of these meetings, but the development team is responsible for conducting the daily standup. This approach helps to foster team accountability and the spirit of self-organization. Ultimately, when the team is able to conduct efficient and effective Daily Scrum sessions, the Scrum master doesn’t even need to be there for their duration.
How is Daily Scrum different from a status meeting?
Many Scrum practitioners emphasize that it’s essential not to let your team Daily Scrum meetings morphe into status meetings. The problem is that many people don’t really see a significant difference between these two. We’ll try to clear things up.
When you think of status updates (meetings or, for example, written project status reports), you probably imagine you and your team reporting to someone, whether it’s a manager or a client. And that’s the thing: during a daily standup, your team doesn’t report to anyone. Instead, they work together to come up with a plan for the next 24 hours.
Yet another difference between Daily Scrum and status meetings is what gets discussed during them. Status updates are often recaps of who did what and what was the result of this action. This is where things can get a little blurry. After all, the attendees of a Daily Scrum meeting also discuss the work done. The difference is that the primary outcome of daily meetings should not be a list of things that have been done but a collaborative vision of how the Scrum team can work for the next 24 hours to meet their Sprint goals.
These differences may seem minor, but there’s a real benefit in not turning your team’s daily standups into status meetings. Stick to the Scrum Guide: your meetings will be more effective. On top of that, your team members will see the value and actively participate.
Ideas to optimize your team’s daily meetings
Even though each Scrum meeting is governed by some rules, there’s still plenty of flexibility you and your team can benefit from. We’ve outlined some tips for optimizing your team’s Daily Scrum meetings below. We didn’t focus on particular techniques (plank daily standup, anyone?), but instead listed small things you can consider to make your team’s work more efficient.
- Make sure every team member understands the goals of this Scrum meeting. If they don’t know why they’re gathering every day, things can quickly go in the status meeting direction. By the way, the same advice will be valid for other Scrum meetings as well: you can read about our ideas for retrospectives here.
- Put trust in your team. Again, the more you try to control the meeting, the more it may feel like a status update. Let your team members facilitate their Daily Scrum meetings. Let them figure out the plan for the rest of the day.
- Encourage people to talk openly about current impediments. We’ve already mentioned earlier that some teams don’t feel comfortable about sharing the challenges they face. When you see that the progress toward the Sprint goal is not as smooth as expected, yet people don’t mention any impediments, you’ll know that communication and transparency should probably be addressed.
- Go beyond the three questions. Your team likely follows the three question formula for their Daily Scrum meeting (What did I do yesterday? What will I do today? Are there any impediments in my way?). It’s a reliable recipe for keeping things organized. You just need to make sure that people don’t just stop at answering these three questions. After all, they still have to decide if there’s a need for any adjustments in their plan. Otherwise, this Scrum meeting is not that different from a status update. You know very well by now that this should not be the case. If you feel that there’s a certain “3 question fatigue” among your team members, you can spice things up by changing the order of the questions or rewording them slightly.
- Don’t focus on keeping everyone busy. The attendees of a Daily Scrum meeting might feel that there’s a certain stigma if they don’t report working on many tasks/staying busy. It shouldn’t be like that: the priority is to achieve the Sprint goal, not to max out everyone’s capacity. As the people behind a resource management app, we understand the importance of tracking resource utilization, but you can tweak it when you feel that the flow of work is efficient, not the other way round.
- Introduce a parking lot for ideas that come up during the daily standup, but aren’t relevant to this Scrum meeting. Your team only has 15 minutes to assess the progress and make a plan for the next 24 hours. One off-topic conversation may derail the whole meeting. With a parking lot in place, people can move on with the meeting. Still, you don’t lose potentially important ideas and can discuss them later.
Increase the visibility of your team members to keep meetings efficient
This subject deserves its own section because increasing employee visibility is what we help companies with every day. Our resource scheduling and leave management software makes it possible to track who is working on a given day and who is on vacation. Part-time employees and freelancers can input their exact availability, so you know that they are available, say, between 9 am to 11 am.
What does it have to do with Daily Scrum meetings? Imagine a situation when one of the members of your Scrum team takes a day off. The rest of the group gathers for a daily meeting only to realize that they don’t have the full picture of the progress without that person’s input. When your employees’ availability is visible to project managers and Scrum masters, they can act in advance. One idea would be to ask the person who’s going on vacation to take a moment the day before and share their progress and impediments with someone on the team who can relay this information during the standup.
On top of that, knowing when everyone is available makes it easier to schedule the time slot for your team’s daily meeting. If you’re interested in implementing a resource management solution to optimize your company’s processes, schedule a meeting with our consultant. We’ll be happy to advise you on how you can save time and money with an efficient absence tracking system.