One of the more effective tools that are included in the Scrum methodology is the Daily Stand-Up Meeting. I wanted to put together a quick guide on how to assure this 15 minute meeting is both effective and efficient. The Daily Stand-Up, or daily Scrum, can be used to improve collaboration, encourage cooperation within the team, and streamline the reporting process to keep it simple and agile.
As a ScrumMaster you are ultimately responsible for the ebb and flow of your daily Scrum. Making sure your team members stay on topic and within the time guidelines is not always an easy thing to do. As Product Owner or a member of the Development Team let me suggest you also read this so you will remain a positive force for your team. While your daily Scrum may or may not always be effective, use these tips and strategies to help improve the probability that they will remain on target and get you closer to project completion.
- Always on time, always in the same place. As a team, you should decide on the time and location for your meetings. Your team norm should be that all team members be at the daily Scrum and on time. The frequency of your meetings should be daily to improve daily inspection and adaptation. And your daily Scrum should always stick to the time limit of 15 minutes. I have seen the formula online of (2 * n) + 5 to set the time limits where n is the number of people on your team. I would suggest you use your best judgement, but try and keep the meetings within the time limits the team has established.
- Stick to the Script. As team members report, they should answer the three questions: What did I do yesterday, What will I do today, and What is impeding me? If any issues are brought up that are outside of those three questions, the ScrumMaster should suggest the creation of a Sidebar. A Sidebar is used to address issues that are brought up by the team but are not part of the daily Scrum discussion. The ScrumMaster should make a note of the Sidebar and invite anyone who has an opinion on the Sidebar to stay after the meeting to discuss it. Remember, the meeting is designed to only capture the issues recognized in a daily Scrum and not resolve them.
- Stand-up. This tip almost sounds cliche, but it works. Having your team stand during the meeting instead of sit brings a different energy to the meeting and helps limit the amount of time for the meeting.
- Limit technology. Team members should always leave phones and laptops outside of the meeting. I like to use technology to track the storyboard, taskboard, and testboard but having a physical board with sticky notes or whatever you use helps everyone visualize what needs to happen. You should track tasks and assignments of each sprint electronically, but leave that outside of the room during the daily Scrum.
- Prepare, prepare, prepare. The daily Scrum is not the time for you or team members to plan what they will do before the next daily Scrum. One of the norms your team establishes early in the planning process is that every team member should come to the daily Scrum ready to discuss their responses to the three questions.
- Demand respect for other team members. This sounds elementary, almost too simplistic. But all team members should agree to respect others, including not interrupting someone else during their reporting. In larger teams, side conversations during a daily Scrum can derail the meeting. It sounds like Business 101, but sometimes people do need a gentle reminder.
I have used a daily Scrum style meeting in other project management methodologies. These meetings help my projects maintain their momentum and create a higher level of accountability for team members. While I don’t typically suggest mixing methodologies, I do feel the daily meeting can help you improve your efficiency and effectiveness as a project manager.