Monday, September 26, 2011

The Stand Up Meeting

By: Aya Raafat

Everyday when I start my working day, I've a call for a stand up meeting .. what ever we do.. this gives the team members a push to commit to some tasks for the day to finish it by the end of it.
 Every morning, gather the development team in the same area. That area could be a hallway, a meeting room or whatever space is available for standing. No chairs allowed.

The meeting should be over in under 10-15 minutes. The agenda is : 
  • What I Accomplished Yesterday
  • What I plan to accomplish today
  • What issues are blocking progress 
Every person in the team reports on the three items to the rest of the team. This is not a report to management or the coach/scrum master/project manager. This is so each person has a clear understanding of what is going on. When issues are exposed early, others can help resolve them quickly , reach consensus easily and assure the team is standing on the same ground.

Communication among the entire team is the purpose of the stand up meeting. A stand up meeting every morning is used to communicate problems, solutions, and promote team focus. Everyone stands up in a circle to avoid long discussions. It is more efficient to have one short meeting that every one is required to attend than many meetings with a few developers each.

A typical Scrum life cycle looks like that, where the daily stand up meeting is an essential component :

However, this really keeps us away from the lengthy unfruitful meetings that we've experienced before , talking about unimportant things, debating about minor issues, having fun while we could have finished a lot of useful things any where else.. not always a meaningful progress is done using the common way of holding traditional meetings.

When everybody is around a large table sitting in nice comfortable chairs, they relax a bit and start talking about other things. While they may not consciously be aware that they are comfortable sitting there, when you are standing you are definitely not in a comfortable position. People are much less willing to stand for a long time than they are to sit for a long time. That means that everybody is motivated to get the needed work done as quickly as possible so that they can move on to other things.

Another essential part of the scrum meeting is the Scrum Board:
Of course, a variety of electronic tools exist that perform these functions, but the simple task board represents a couple of lean principles that I find very valuable, simple technologyand visual control. The utility of such a simple method of workflow management is that it is easy to manage, and more importantly, it is easy to change.

These are some tips for running stand up meetings:
  • It should be max 15 minutes
  • Everyone should literally stand-up and no one should sit down on chair. Assuming that team is co-located & no team member has any physical problem
  • Do limit problem solving. It should not be fully Problem Resolution Meeting. You can conduct separate huddle for Problem Resolutions
  • ScrumMaster is responsible of removing obstacles in the path of the team, so that they form no hindrances in their regular work stack.
  • All members should be present on time for Standup meeting 
  • Any member who can’t attend the Standup should give his updates to fellow teammate. Teammate will give the updates on her/his behalf in her/his absence. 
  • Do make sure the individual tasks are descriptive and granular. It’s ideal when estimates for individual tasks are around one day. If the tasks are large and vague, it takes a long time for the team member to describe what she’s doing and for the rest of the team to understand.
  • If a team member doesn’t burn down any time for a task because she discovered a new predecessor task that wasn’t accounted for, make sure the new task gets added to the sprint. That way you have a better history and a more accurate burndown chart.
It can be a challenge to make the daily meetings feel productive at times, but a few simple guidelines can help it be one of the most useful practices of Scrum.

The daily scrum is not a status update meeting in which a boss is collecting information about who is behind schedule. Rather, it is a meeting in which team members make commitments to each other. If a programmer stands up and says "Today I will finish the data storage module" everyone knows that in tomorrow's meeting he will say whether or not he did finish. This has the wonderful effect of helping a team realize the significance of these commitments and that their commitments are to each other, not to some far-off customer or salesman.

Anyway, feel free to adapt this methodology in the way that fits best with your team, as we always say, there is NO human-made Silver Bullet .

About Aya El-Gebeely:

 Software QA engineer at Symbyo Technologies Egypt.Aya's primary focus is to deliever successful projects.Contact with Aya at:

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