8 Tips For A Better Daily Scrum

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The Daily Scrum is a principal, daily activity in agile software development. It's a brief 15-minute standup meeting for the scrum team to coordinate activities and create a work plan for the day ahead. If executed correctly, the Daily Scrum "optimizes team collaboration and performance by inspecting the work since the last Daily Scrum and forecasting upcoming Sprint work."

Given the short sprints in agile, the Daily Scrum keeps the entire team on the same page. It gives them the ability to adapt to issues that arise during the Sprint and keep work moving towards the Sprint Goal. It can also "improve communications, eliminate other meetings, identify impediments for removal, highlights and promotes quick decision-making, and improve the Development Team's level of knowledge."

As you can see this brief meeting has several essential benefits, and effectively executing the Daily Scrum is critical to achieving the Sprint Goal.

In this article, we’ll breakdown eight tips for a better Daily Scrum meeting.

1 | Be Consistent  

The Daily Scrum should start at the same time, in the same place every day. To keep the standup brief and on target, eliminate interruptions and end on time. Maintaining discipline about the meeting details creates an efficient routine. our team knows exactly what to expect every day and how they must prepare. Consistency also improves accountability and visibility of critical issues that arise, as team members know they will present their progress daily.

Related Post: Why Are Organizations Still Struggling With Agile?

2 | Every Team Member Presents

A key component of agile development is team-based ownership of the product. While individual members have contributing roles, the entire team owns the work, not individuals. The team wholly owns product development, issues, and successes.

That said, every team member should present his or her progress during the Daily Scrum. This again encourages accountability and visibility of all work conducted during the Sprint. Team members should come prepared and keep their presentations concise to maintain efficiency. Our next tip will help with this.

3 |  Every Team Member Answers These 3 Questions:

What did you do yesterday? The Scrum Master should check that work is staying focused on the backlog. If the team is spending valuable time on items outside the backlog, then progress is not moving towards the Sprint Goal. The goal is to minimize the work-in-progress, not create additional work. The Scrum Master should also check for any obstacles that need to be addressed immediately.

What will you do today? As team members are answering this question, the Scrum Master ensures that tasks are closing and new ones are starting. Team members should challenge each other to prioritize the most critical work and swarm as necessary on blocks and challenges to complete stories and clear dependencies.

What is blocking progress?  The team should identify any blockers, adopt a plan to clear them, and rely on the Scrum Master to communicate relevant issues externally. Given the short time frame of a Sprint, it’s critical that blockers are addressed in a timely manner before they impact development progress.

4 | The Product Owner Attends

The Product Owner is a full team member. He or she is responsible for gathering requirements, managing and prioritizing the backlog, accepting finished software, and providing domain expertise. The Product Owner also represents the product's stakeholders and the voice of the customer.

Therefore, he or she needs to attend the Daily Scrum to stay updated on the development team’s progress and ensure they are staying on the path towards the overall product goal. He or she also must be there to ensure the needs of any external stakeholders are being communicated and met by the development team.

Related Post: Who’s Playing? A Brief Guide To The Roles of Agile Scrum

5 | Team Members Pull Tasks from the Sprint Backlog

The development team should be selecting and assigning tasks from the Sprint Backlog. While the Scrum Master can contribute to the selection of tasks, you don’t want him or her pushing tasks on the development team. By encouraging the team to choose the tasks they will work on that day, you increase accountability. No one knows better than the development team in which tasks need to be achieved next because they are the ones executing these tasks.

6 | Team Members Must Address Each Other  

Again, we see this concept of team-based ownership. The Daily Scrum should not consist of several individual presentations to the Scrum Master. The Scrum Master is supposed to be an overall mentor for the scrum team, not the boss of the team. Ownership of the work does not reside with the Scrum Master; it resides with the entire team. Therefore, team members should present their progress to the whole of the team, not just the Scrum Master.

7 | Leverage the Burndown Chart to Avoid Lags

A burndown chart visualizes how quickly your scrum team is burning through your customer's user stories. A burn down chart is a graphical representation of work left to do versus time. Teams should refer to the burndown chart during the Daily Scrum to ensure they are staying on schedule or identify if they are lagging.

8 | Discuss “Pop Up” Issues After The Daily Scrum

Important decisions and issues that pop up during the Daily Scrum should be placed in a “parking lot” for the relevant team members to revisit after the meeting. Remember tip #1 is to remain consistent, which includes ending on time. There will be issues or decisions that require further discussion among team members immediately. Save these pop-up issues for separate, more in-depth meetings. Treat the Daily Scrum as a vocal status report, not a problem-solving session.  

The Daily Scrum is a highly useful tool in agile software development if properly utilized. These eight tips will help you optimize your Daily Scrum stand-ups, drive your team towards your Sprint Goal, and get your product to market faster.  


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