Making the Most of Daily Scrums

Condescending Wonka

Yeah! That’s right. Doing Daily Scrums (aka daily stand ups) alone doesn’t make you Agile. You need to be doing them well too.

But nobody told you how to do them properly. Really? REALLY? Well, in that case show this post to your ScrumMaster.

Anyways, getting on with it. Here’s how you you can improve your Daily Scrums.

1. The Purpose

The purpose of Daily Scrums is to keep the team in the loop about your progress and bring to light your impediments so that the ScrumMaster / Team can remove them.

2. Some Prerequisites

  • Update your burndown chart on the wall BEFORE the daily scrum so that the team can look at it. The burndown chart shows how many points are remaining in the Sprint at the start of each day. You can update it at the end of the day (for the daily scrum next day) or the same day when you step into the office. But it should be updated before the team commences  the Daily Scrum.
  • Update the project details with the number of Sprints completed / remaining. For example, 3/9 says that you are in Sprint 3 of the project having a total of 9 Sprints. Update this at the start of each sprint.
  • Move your story card from To-Do to Doing column (for stories that are starting) and from Doing to Done column (for stories that have been completed)

3. What to say (and what not)

Each team members mentions the following:

  • What he did yesterday (the last working day in case yesterday was an off / leave).
  • What he is going to do today
  • Anything stopping him (any impediments in his way of delivering his sprint tasks as planned)
  • Whether he is on schedule to complete the Sprint deliverables, behind schedule, or ahead of schedule. Saying this is not the norm but this is very important for us. We want to hear this.

There’s a good chance that when a team member mentions something as part of his update, you might have something to add to it / respond to it. If it is a one-liner comment / answer, go ahead with it. If it becomes a back-and-forth discussion, then stop there and take it offline. Do not continue to discuss it during the Daily Scrum.

4. How long does it take

A Daily Scrum should not take more than 15 minutes. In fact, if you are doing Step 3 above well, 15 minutes would be more than sufficient for the whole team.

5. Pay attention to what the team says

Sometimes we do not pay attention to what the a fellow team member is saying because we are not working on the same story. This is not right. You are still a part of the same team. The whole point of having a team is to let the team members help each other out. Isn’t that how a team is defined as? Even if your fellow team member is working on a different task than you and he is facing some issue you can help with, volunteer to help him out. Your help would not be forgotten and when you get stuck in the future, your team members would help you out too.

Also, in case, a team member falls ill or has some emergency which causes him to be away from his project, you might be called in to help move that story along. If you pay attention during each Daily Scrum, you would not have much trouble when you are filling in for him.

So pay attention to who is saying what rather than having side conversations (which disturb others trying to listen to the speaker) or staying tuned out.

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