Oh no, another Standup!
Hands up, how many of you think that we have too many meetings at work and not enough time to actually…well, work? Daily Standups are not just regular meetings though. They shouldn’t last more than 15 minutes, and if you do them right, they limit the number of unnecessary calendar invites throughout the entire day.
Still not a huge fan?
Daily Standups might be stressful, especially if your team has been following the ‘status update’ meeting format. The important thing to remember here is that in software development, Daily Standups are not supposed to be status meetings. If your Daily Standup usually lasts 30 minutes or more and puts your team in a Zombie-like mood, you know you’re not doing it right and something needs to change. If you’re looking for tips on how to make your Daily Standups energetic, valuable, and quick, check out our best practices below.
But first things first, you’re probably wondering if there is any real difference between Daily Scrum and Daily Standup. Let’s find out.
Daily Scrum vs Standup
There might be some confusion between Daily Scrum and Daily Standup so let’s get it out of the way. Daily Scrum and Daily Standup for most people mean the same thing, however, the origins of the two are different. Daily Standup comes from extreme programming and in some cases unfortunately it’s been turned into a status meeting, which in software development can easily backfire.
Daily Scrum comes from the Scrum Guide. The main idea behind Daily Scrum is to align with the team, see how they’re progressing towards the Sprint Goal, and re-plan if necessary. Both Daily Standup and Daily Scrum are meant to be short, 15-minute meetings, focused on finding blockers and keeping the finger on the pulse. Daily Scrum is solely used by teams following the Scrum framework, however, Daily Standup can be adopted by any team, be it marketing, product development, or design.
In the software development world, Daily Standup is interchangeable with Daily Scrum or the so-called Daily. It can be practiced by teams following other agile methods like Kanban or Scrumban. What’s interesting is that there are no strict rules defining Daily Scrum or Daily Standup. The Scrum Guide explains that the development team can choose whichever structure or technique works best for them.
In this blog post, we’ll give you some simple tips on how to make the best out of these 15 minutes each day no matter if you call it Daily Scrum, Daily Standup, Standup, or simply Daily.
Why Daily Standup Meeting is Important
A well-structured standup meeting can significantly minimize the time you spend on other meetings. Some would say it’s the most important meeting of the day!
Standup or Daily Scrum provides a platform where regular feedback can be exchanged, adjustments can be made after a quick check-in on the overall progress. Standups help to deal with the complexity and unpredictability of software development. They promote collaboration within teams, shared responsibility, and ownership. The meeting acts as a sports huddle, the idea is to strategize, help and motivate each other, and reshuffle the priorities if necessary.
The Daily should provide value to the development team, it should be run and attended primarily by developers, however other roles are invited if there is a need to facilitate the meeting. In situations when the Daily is turned into a status update session, reporting to Scrum Master or Product Owner, it loses its appeal and core purpose. Daily Standup is not about micro-managing the agile team, it’s about getting together either face-to-face or virtually to discuss if there are any blockers preventing the team to move forward. It’s ok to raise alarm bells, however, the problem-solving discussions should be taken out of the Standup.
Standups also give an opportunity for the team to see each other, maybe even the only time during the day if we’re talking about distributed teams. This, in turn, improves morale, promotes trust, and boosts team spirit.
How to Run a Daily Standup — Top Tips
Let’s explore how to run an efficient Daily Standup. What you should start or continue doing and which practices you can easily throw out the window.
Change your approach
- Don’t treat the Standup as a status update. Share only the information that is valuable to the whole team. No one is interested in the number of meetings you attended the previous day, it doesn’t bring value to the overall progress towards the Sprint goal and can easily make your colleagues fall asleep.
- Don’t provoke lengthy discussions. Daily Standups are not problem-solving meetings. Signal the issue and discuss it straight after the Daily.
- Don’t be late. Standups are very short, a maximum of 15 minutes long. If you’re late you will miss important updates or make your team waste time by waiting for you. Respect yours and their time. If you can’t attend the meeting, ask the team to record it if possible.
- Don’t turn it into a boring meeting. Change the format, use a talking stick, test different types of questions and see what your team likes the most.
- Forget about discussing the design of specific product components — there is not enough time to make informed decisions and nothing good may come out of it.
Start or continue
- Ask everyone the preferred time for Standup and stick to it every day. If some of your colleagues work remotely, adjust the format and go for the virtual standup meeting instead so that each person feels they have an equal say and contribution.
- Time the Standup. Rotate the responsibility of the timekeeper between your team members so that everyone takes ownership and sees the value in keeping the meetings short.
- Stick to the agenda — if anyone in your team goes off-topic come up with a sign (everyone raising hands for example) to signal that this topic doesn’t belong in the Daily Standup. You can think of some fun and non-intrusive ways to make sure the person concerned doesn’t feel offended. For virtual teams, you can pick a specific emoji reaction and let everyone know that this is clearly ‘off-topic’.
- Use a special place on the whiteboard where the team can take notes of issues that need further discussion. You can use our Parking Lot Matrix which helps to park issues on a virtual board. Check who from the team would be interested in discussing them straight after the Daily.
- Don’t wait for latecomers or stop the Standup when they arrive. They will need to catch up on the conversation and it will motivate them to be on time next time.
- Help each other out. If you’ve finished one of the tasks, before starting a new one, check if any of your teammates need help with theirs. This will ensure a smoother workflow and a quicker release cycle time.
- Start the Daily Standup with a question ‘’What can be finished today’’? & ‘’How are we doing towards the Sprint goal’’ if you’re working in Scrum.
- Try the ‘Walk the Board’ method (discussed below) to shift the focus from the team members to the actual work.
- Give each developer a chance to be a facilitator — this will increase the feeling of ownership and bring more understanding to what is actually happening within the team.
- Create one single source of truth, a virtual board where all the tasks are displayed and everyone can see the progress, as well as mark bottlenecks.
- Be attentive as you might have that invaluable piece of knowledge that will get one of your teammates out of trouble.
- Make sure everyone knows the priorities and everyone is super clear on the final result to be achieved.
- If the team counts more than 10 people think of splitting them into two separate Standups if it makes sense (developers working on the same components for example).
- Prepare for the Daily Standup and write down what you’ll say beforehand to be quick and on point. Check Jira issues before taking notes, you can filter them by ‘only my issues’ & ‘recently updated’.
Daily Standup Meeting Agenda
- You can start the Daily Standup with a 30-second short physical exercise (provided everyone can participate) to energize the team and help to wake everyone up. A quick and short yoga pose might do the trick if the team is up for it.
- If you’re following the standard three Daily Standup questions, you can anonymously vote for the first speaker. If you’re using a virtual whiteboard, use the voting option and see who gets the most votes! This can be set up with a timer limited to five seconds max.
- Let the first speaker choose the next one so that everyone can share the progress and blockers on their side.
- Time each speaker and give them a 1-minute slot, extended to 2 or 3 minutes if needed, depending on the team size.
- Note all the issues that need further discussion on a virtual whiteboard and ask who is interested in discussing them further.
- Close the Daily and move on to the problem-solving session with selected team members interested in a deeper discussion.
Standup Meeting Questions
Traditional Standup meeting questions are the following:
- What did you work on yesterday?
- What will you work on today?
- Is there anything blocking the progress?
Examples of the Standup Meeting Answers:
- Yesterday I fixed an API bug on Payment Gateway.
- I keep working on the subscription update API. All good, it will be done before the sprint end.
- I still haven’t received the credit card numbers for American Express and Discover.
It’s important to remember that the Daily Standup in agile software development shouldn’t be perceived as a status meeting where each team member reports on the status of their work. If you’ve been following the standard Standup meeting questions for some time and you feel like it’s taking your team in the wrong direction, there is no harm in focusing only on question number 3. The crucial part of the Daily is to know the blockers so that together you can find solutions and make sure that nothing’s preventing you from achieving the Sprint goal.
Virtual Standup Meeting Do’s and Don’ts
If your team operates entirely remotely or some of your members work from different locations, you should opt for a Virtual Standup Meeting so that everyone has the same experience. We’ll share some of the Do’s and Don’ts of Virtual Standups below.
Virtual Standup Meeting Do’s
- Make sure everyone has access to the virtual whiteboard where you can park some topics for later discussion, record the Daily for those that can’t attend using the Loom video, and visualize Jira tickets that are being discussed. If you haven’t tested it out yet, check our Daily Standup Meeting template and benefit from the native two-way Jira integration.
- Adjust the time of the meeting, especially if your team is located in different time zones. The effectiveness of the Daily depends on the people that attend it — if someone can’t make it in the morning, there is no harm in scheduling it in the afternoon instead.
- Turn on your cameras — this is the best option after face-to-face conversations in Agile. You can use our built-in video chat option, straight on the online whiteboard.
- If your team needs to have an asynchronous daily standup and you’re not able to gather everyone on a virtual video chat — make sure to update the board with comments, mark blockers, and tag team members that can provide answers later.
- If your team can easily do so — encourage everyone to stand up for the duration of the meeting. There are plenty of sales teams that practice standing when talking to clients on the phone to close the deal. It helps you be more focused, confident, and attentive.
- In case you experience internet issues — tell your team to record the Standup for you or try calling in with your phone instead. If you start breaking up every five seconds and your team can’t understand you, you will all lose the precious Daily Standup time.
Virtual Standup Meeting Don’ts
- Don’t multitask and pretend like you’re listening. Even if your team works remotely, your colleagues can probably tell when you’re switching off and start cleaning your inbox. The Standup should benefit the team, if you think someone is talking about something irrelevant to your work — flag it. You can have a dedicated feedback zone on the whiteboards where everyone can leave comments and suggest improvements regarding the Daily.
- Don’t force the team to stand up in case some of your teammates find it difficult. The meeting is inclusive and shouldn’t make anyone feel uncomfortable.
- Don’t distract your team with irrelevant or off-topic information — stick to the agenda of the call.
Scrum Master Role in Daily Standup
According to the Scrum Guide, Scrum Master can participate in the Daily Scrum (or Daily Standup) if they are one of the developers and actively working on Sprint Backlog items. Nevertheless, if the team is quite new to Scrum, Scrum Master can attend the meeting and guide the team to make sure it’s not turned into a status update session. Scrum Masters can join as listeners but shouldn’t actively participate in the meeting as the main purpose of Daily Standup is for the development team to align, discuss roadblocks, and re-plan. Scrum Master should trust the team and let them self-organize and take ownership of the Sprint.
Walk the Board — Daily Standup with a Twist
And what if you try something different? Instead of a regular Daily Standup with traditional three questions, try taking the focus off the team and putting it where it should be — on the work.
First, you’ll need a virtual board where you can keep a close eye on the tickets. You can easily customize our Kanban board and add additional columns like ‘Dev’ ‘Ready to test’ & ‘Test’ if you need. With our Kanban board, you can import Jira tickets straight onto the online whiteboard and discuss them with your team during the Daily. You can update the tickets on the online board and they will get automatically updated in Jira.
Start from the tickets that are the closest to the finish line as they have the most value. Discuss them with your team. Is there anything blocking the release? Does anyone need help with solving bugs or finding alternative solutions? Continue discussing the tickets from the right to the left side of the board. This approach takes the pressure off the developers and makes them eager to contribute as they’re not put on the spot. It works well with introverted team members and it’s efficient as everyone is listening in. Everyone has the same goal — the Sprint goal. If one ticket is blocked for some reason — the whole team can jump in, offer help, or brainstorm later on how to move it to the next phase.
With regular 3-question Standups, individual team members naturally want to make a good impression, they want to tell a good story. Their focus is more on their speech, what they’ll need to say when it’s their turn, rather than on what others are saying. The ‘Walking the Board’ approach creates a safe space to contribute as a team and work together rather than promoting an atmosphere of high expectations and pressure.
Have you heard this expression before that ‘even a bad pizza is a good pizza’? Something similar applies to the Daily Standup — even a bad Standup is good as it’s better than no Standup at all!
Here’s the recap of the most important things to keep in mind if you don’t want your Daily Standups to be time-wasters.
- Daily Standups are not for deep discussions, take it offline and discuss things further after the Daily.
- Daily Standups are team events, they should promote collaboration rather than isolate individual team members, which happens when the Standup turns into a status meeting.
- Try the ‘Walking the Board’ approach that takes the spotlight off the developers and puts it on the work items and the actual progress towards the Sprint goal.
- Daily Standups are for the development team — Scrum Masters who are not developers and not actively working on the tasks, shouldn’t participate in the meeting unless the team is quite new to Scrum and needs a facilitator.
- Daily Scrum or Daily Standup is held so that the team can adapt and mitigate any issues that can disrupt the current workflow.
- Daily Standups are not solely reserved for Agile teams — they can be adopted by marketing, sales, product, and design teams too!
Daily Meetings aren’t productive at all sometimes, we all know it, and feel it, yet we keep going because that’s what the higher management expects, it’s been always done this way and no one has the nerve to try and shake things up.
If you’re not sure if your Daily Standups are effective and provide value to your team, run an anonymous survey and ask your team to rate the current setup of Daily Standups from 1 to 5. Based on the responses you’ll know if there is a need to change a thing or two.
Before you go, try our Daily Standup Meeting Template!