The daily standup, sometimes called the ‘daily scrum’ meeting is an important staple in the Agile Project Managers day. An Agile Project Manager in this context may also be called the ‘Scrum Master’.
This article covers a variation of the daily standup which I have honed over time, and have found to be a successful approach.
The meeting should consist of preparation, which will happen prior to the meeting, followed by three conversation points:
The standup meeting itself should take no more than 15-20 minutes, it should contain 4-5 people (to keep it manageable) and most importantly of all, it should be kept on-topic by the Scrum Master.
The team members that are involved in the standup, and what the standup should cover depends on composition and size of your organisation, but it should aim include everyone who has a stake in the project.
The conversation during the meeting should not become technical, and the Scrum Master should suggest follow-up meetings between members of the team to work out issues that may be taking the meeting off-topic.
Before the Daily Standup
There are a few preparation tasks you can do to help get the meeting running smoothly. These are as follows:
Remind the team to update the Kanban board
If you are not already, we highly recommend using a Kanban board for task management (such as Trello, or the one built into GitHub).
If you do not have a Kanban board, you could use labels, or columns in a spreadsheet, or any tool that works with your setup.
It is important to remind your team to move their tasks into the correct columns on the board (ie from ‘Sprint Backlog’ to ‘In Progress’, and from ‘In Progress’ into ‘Code Review’.
Having the team move their tasks into the correct columns will speed up your job as a Scrum Master, and give you an accurate view of the current progress of the project.
Add new items to the Kanban board
New items (such as tasks, scope clarification or priority changes) may have come from multiple places. These could be:
- From conversations with the client
- From conversations with other members of the team
- From a helpdesk system, or via email request
Add new items to your Kanban board (or whatever task management system you use), and update other items and tasks where appropriate with the additional information.
During the Daily Standup Meeting
Incoming items / priorities
The first item on the daily standup agenda is a review of items that have arisen in the last 24 hours, and an assessment of their impact on the project (whether this be a change of priority, or a change of scope). Doing this helps to keep the team informed of changes in priority, and manages expectations.
Smaller organisations may already have shifting priorities and may also be balancing multiple projects at a time (a programme of work). These small organisations will be impacted the most when priorities change as resources one or more other projects will be impacted.
Moving items forward
Some tasks may have been completed by the team, however they will not have been signed off due to a dependancy.
Depending on the processes used in your organisation, a task could be blocked from moving forward for one of several reasons eg:
- Internal code review outstanding
- Changes have not been presented to the client
- The client is not ready to deploy
This agenda item identifies what can be done (if anything) to move these tasks forward (ie assign it to someone for code review, or request someone to perform client demonstration).
The third agenda item, the team update, gives everyone in the standup the chance to have a say. Its aim is to answer the following three questions:
What happened yesterday?
This question gives the team member the chance to say what went well, what went not so well, and if there were any issues or distractions that may impact the overall project.
What will you do today?
This question outlines the expectations of what will be delivered in the day. It also serves as an opportunity for steer to be given if the team member is uncertain of what task to tackle next, or perhaps they are currently working on tasks that have a lower priority, so intervention is required to steer them onto the higher priority tasks.
Is there anything stopping you from progressing?
This question essentially asks about blockers the team member currently is experiencing. They could be as simple as “I need to talk to [Team Member] to clarify the task”, to the more drastic “My computer has stopped working, and I need a new one purchasing before I can continue”.
This allows the team member to manage expectations around potential delays to their tasks, and request help from the organisation and/or other members of the team to help them move forward.