We started this series on the Scrum methodology with an introduction (LINK), followed by two pieces on two of the most important roles in the Scrum framework (the Scrum Master and the Product Owner, LINKS), and an article on the framework itself and why it's called a framework for Agile working (LINK). Next up are the ceremonies or events around which a Scrum-based project tends to revolve.
When it comes to Scrum, a project consists of Sprints and Sprints are built up of events. The role which each of these events plays and the way in which they take place can differ considerably based on factors like the the product that is being developed, the experience of the people involved in the project, and the preferences of the team members themselves. In general though, in a traditional Scrum project, a Sprint contains at least four major events, namely Scrum planning (also known as Sprint planning, see LINK), the Daily Scrum, the Sprint Review, and the Sprint Retrospective.
After taking a deeper look at Scrum planning (LINK), up next is the Daily Scrum, which is also known under different names, including the Daily Meeting or the Daily Standup. Those other names immediately indicate the core characteristic of the Daily Scrum, namely that it's a type of meeting that takes place once every day. A Daily Scrum usually takes place at the start of a working day and should typically not take more than 15 minutes. The development team uses this opportunity to synchronize all of the activities and to make a planning for the next 24 hours. It's also a chance for the team to briefly inspect the past Sprint and to evaluate the collaboration between the members of the team.
Like the other events that take place within the Scrum framework, Daily Scrums should be time-boxed (allocating a certain amount of time to an activity in advance and completing the activity within that time frame), because you want to avoid that the team spends more time on discussing what they are going to do than actually doing it. A Daily Scrum is just a way to regularly update each other and to promote constant transparency for all developers involved. This should be quick, clear, and concise, so that the development team can get to work and create value as quickly as possible.
A few good practices in regard to Daily Scrums
Like practically the entire Scrum framework, a Daily Scrum can take on a lot of forms depending on many factors, including the experience of the development team, the complexity of the product that is being developed, and the preferences of the people involved. That does not mean that there are not some generally accepted good practices when it comes to organising and holding Daily Scrums. Everyone does these Standup Meetings a bit differently and that's fine, just remember that efficiency and focus are essential for these events to be successful. Below we'll place a few tips on how to get the most out of Daily Scrums.
It's not called a Standup Meeting for nothing
You might think that this is a bit ridiculous, especially to start this list with, but it's definitely not. Keeping people on their feet is a good way to keep the meeting short and efficient. The involved team members will be encouraged to focus on what's important for the Daily Scrum, and they will be less inclined to off-topic.
It comes down to three questions
In general, the theory is that a Daily Scrum can be held very successfully if each member of the development team answers three questions:
· What did you accomplish since the last meeting?
· What are you working on until the next meeting?
· What is getting in your way or keeping you from doing your job?
By answering these questions, each team member is clarifying for both himself or herself and the rest of the team what exactly is getting done and where improvements are needed. It's important in this sense for the team members to know that problems, no matter how small they might perceive them, should be mentioned during the Daily Scrum. Like this, the team can work on solving those issues and preventing them from becoming bigger problems together.
Visual over verbal
Not exactly, because the verbal component of the Daily Scrum is key, but what we mean, is that the efficiency of a Daily Scrum can be increased by using visual representations of the tools the team is using to complete the project. No matter if this is an Agile software program, like UpWave or Sprintly, or a physical board, like a Scrum board or a kanban board (we will talk about Scrum boards in more detail later on in this series of articles), it's useful to have the used tools present during the Daily Scrums. This way, the development team is presented with a visual idea of what is being worked on, what is being finished, and what is causing issues.
A Daily Scrum is not a private meeting
One of the big goals of holding Daily Scrum meetings is to promote transparency within the team and to encourage collaboration amongst the team members by voicing issues that have occurred during the last Sprint. That's why it's key to make these meetings very collaborative, instead of turning them into turn-based one-on-one chats between the Scrum Master and the members of the development team. Holding individual talks will take much more time and defeats the entire purpose of a Daily Scrum within the Scrum framework.
The development team is central
When planning, when executing, and when reviewing, the development team is always central to the proceedings. That's also why it's important for Daily Scrums to be fitted according to what fits the members of the development team best. After all, a Daily Scrum at eight in the morning every day sounds structured in theory, but we know very well that in reality, it's considerably difficult to stick to such a strict routine, especially over a longer period of time and when more people get involved. Daily Scrums can take on a lot of forms, but it's essential to keep in mind that these meetings are aimed at achieving optimal efficiency and productivity. They don't necessarily need to take place every day, it can be every few days or every week as well, but there does need to be a clear routine for the team. Take the team's unique schedule into account when shaping and planning the Daily Scrums, and create a planning that accommodates that schedule for the sake of your Scrum project's consistency.
A few bad practices in regard to Daily Scrums
Usually, where there are good practices, there are also bad practices. That goes for the Scrum framework and the organisation of the Daily Scrums as well. Routine and consistency are crucial for the successful planning of Scrum-based projects and Daily Scrums. The Agile approach towards product development consists of spending as much time as possible on maximising the productivity of the development team and the value of the product, and as little time as possible on activities that do not represent a direct added value to the final product. The four tips below can help to maintain the focus on what's important for Scrum teams.
Failing to respect the set times
Time-boxing is a key element of Daily Scrums and Scrum-based planning in general. By allocating certain amounts of time to different activities and aiming to complete those activities within those time frames without adjusting those times, the development team and the other people involved in the project can learn and improve together. The Daily Scrums, for example, should always start and finish at the same time. The team members who are late or miss a Daily Scrum will, ideally, be informed and corrected by the team itself, as a self-learning unit.
Digressing from the objective
Remember those three questions we put down as part of the good practices in regard to Daily Scrums? One of their main goals is to prevent people from digressing from what's important for the Daily Scrum in question. This meeting is quick opportunity to talk about what was worked on in the previous 24 hours, what will be worked on over the next 24 hours, and any potential issues that may have arisen. It's not the moment to start coming up with new ideas or discussing other parts of the project.
Letting people carry on
This one stands in close relation to the previous point. It's no more than natural for people to lose focus from time to time. Especially when the members of a team together, there is a chance that there will be some chatting and rambling on. During the Daily Scrum, this should be avoided at all costs. Ideally, every single thing that is being said during these meetings should be valuable to everyone else. Seeing as it's not always easy to tell people to stop talking, so team's with members who have a tendency to get carried away could choose to set a time limit per speaker, for example.
Allowing the Daily Scrum to become the team's only way of communicating
Daily Scrums are an excellent manner of communicating, as it helps team members to regularly update each other on the work and any related problems. It's important though, that these Daily Standups don't become the team's only kind of communication. It's quite easy for team members to wait for the next Daily Scrum to voice their comments and questions, but this will eventually slow down the project and make it impossible for the meetings to remain short, clear, and concise. The development team should use several ways of communicating with each other, and use the Daily Scrum to update, clarify, and move on to the next step.