The standup meeting & Agile team meeting

The daily scrum, or daily standup meeting is an essential part of the daily agile ritual and a defining part of the scrum framework; it can either enhance or undermine a development team’s functionality and effectiveness over time.

The impact on the workplace of coronavirus has forced management and team members to reconfigure many traditional agile processes and meetings, but especially stand-ups. With development teams often distributed across multiple time zones, a new vision and methodology for this in-person standup ceremony is taking shape.

Normally, the daily standup includes a facilitator, sometimes the product owner and stakeholders, and fewer than 10 team members engaged in collaborative projects. Every day, the entire self-organising development team affirms their understanding of how they will work together during the next 24 hours to produce the increment anticipated at the end of the sprint. The template for this event may be organised as a series of questions or it may lean toward discussion. That’s up to the team and the scrum master.

Because progress requires team commitment and full engagement, common mistakes made by agile teams can be avoided if we follow the meeting agenda, identify repeating issues or impediments, attend meetings daily, establish whose turn it is to speak, and clearly show the whiteboard or kanban board.

During the meeting a kanban task board can organise development team review and assessment, with items nearest completion discussed first. Before the meeting, team members will reflect on their individual progress during the previous 24 hours, and be able to bring clear questions to the standup. If the 15-minute format becomes a lengthy discussion the facilitator, usually the scrum master, will propose time for further discussion and follow-up after the standup is concluded.

This in-person ceremony— where everyone literally stands —  should last no more than 15 minutes. An entire team is now likely to include remote team members, and this agile evolution requires careful planning.

Respect the time zone

Agile problem-solving with distributed teams requires careful attention to planning and meeting methodology. For a whole team to be present, standup times must align with the time zone location of each remote team member. Be sure to add adequate video conferencing lines and provide a clear meeting agenda at the beginning of the standup — or before the meeting, so everyone’s questions are well-prepared and on point.

If commitment to the daily stand-up is impossible for every member, consider holding a weekly stand-up. For the sprint retrospective, a webinar works.

Why hold standups every day?

At the daily scrum meeting the development team will discuss the progress of their work toward the sprint goal. Part of an incremental process, daily coordination among scrum team members ensures that everyone has an accurate overview of sprint planning, is familiar with questions their colleagues have raised, recognises obstacles in the way of progress toward the definition of done, and has insight into the work of other team members. It’s a scrum huddle ready to usefully measure team efficiency and progress by looking at, for example:

  • Sprint backlog items and their order in the queue
  • Work in progress
  • Work ready for review
  • Work in review
  • Software ready to test
  • Software being tested
  • Work ready for acceptance
  • Work accepted

This workflow checklist queue can gauge the software development team’s efficiency with some precision and identify impediments to progress toward the sprint goal.

The stand-up meeting is a development team ceremony with a clear agile goal: a check-in to examine progress made by agile teams toward the sprint goal and toward completing the work in the sprint backlog. It is in many ways a status meeting to produce a status report.

In a fast-paced structured meeting, team members get a chance to help each other by removing blockers. In the virtual standup remote teams can evaluate their workflow and follow-up, ask questions about processes, point out and address impediments to collaboration, and keep up to date on user stories.

The development team sets the place, time, and the agenda for the standup, focused always on the sprint goal and resolution of any impediments to progress. Once established, the place and time should be the same for all future daily standup meetings and always scheduled during the workday.

A key ceremony

The daily standup is a key ceremony in the scrum framework that, when well run, ensures scrum team focus on meeting the sprint goal and the agile commitment.  Learn more about agile standups, daily scrums and more with our Agile Training courses from Leadership Tribe today.

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