Scrum meetings are an essential part of agile methodology. They are used to define the work for the day. Also known as daily standup meetings, they are conducted in the same place and at the same time, every day. These are short meetings, where team members talk about what has been done since the last scrum, what needs to be done and what problems need to be resolved. Team members get a chance to align their development activities with the sprint plan. Progress towards the sprint goal can also be monitored.
The scrum meeting serves as a communication tool, where team members make a commitment about what tasks they will complete that day. This meeting also brings to light obstacles that may impede work. However, this meeting should not be used to solve problems or remove obstacles.
Where Can the Scrum Meeting be Used?
The daily scrum meeting can be used by teams that are transitioning to agile methodology. It can also be used by teams that have several sprints under their belt. Although the daily scrum was developed for the software industry, other industries have also begun to embrace it. The daily scrum may be known by other names such as huddle but it provides the same benefits to other teams such as sales, marketing, HR and general management.
Importance of Scrum Meeting
An effective scrum meeting sets the tone for the day’s work and brings the sprint goal into perspective. Here are some o the benefits it provides:
- Improved communication. The team gets in sync. Everyone on the team understands how their work relates to that of other team members. This also helps build trust and iron out any issues that may stall progress.
- Crystal clear work status. Work is measured against the sprint goal on a daily basis. This helps teams avoid last minute surprises at the end of a sprint. Adjustments can be made as soon as problems or risks are identified.
- Self-organized teams. The team members decide among themselves, how they will accomplish tasks. They are not subject to any influence outside the team. This results in better time estimates and a greater commitment to work. It also encourages team members to plan their work and coordinate with their colleagues.
Preparation for the Scrum Meeting
Set the Right Context for the Scrum
Define the objective of the daily scrum meeting in precise terms. Explain the differences between a status meeting and the daily scrum meeting. Ensure that you do not use a top down approach, where the employees report to the manager. Instead focus on collaboration, coordination and making commitments to each other.
The Scrum Team
Scrum teams of size 10 or less are most effective. This promotes easy communication and greater accountability. If the scope of work is large, create multiple teams. Each team holds their own scrum. The scrum of scrums is then used to collect updates from all the individual scrum teams.
Assign scrum roles with care. Determine who should be the scrum master and the product owner.
- The Scrum Master- The scrum master is the facilitator for the team. He understands the work that the team is involved in and helps the team solve problems. He ensures that everyone understands and follows the scrum rules.
- The Product Owner- The Product owner serves as a link between the team and the other stakeholders. He is responsible for presenting the user stories o the team He validates the solution and its quality from a user’s standpoint.
- The Scrum Development Team- This team is self-organized and is composed of people with varied skills. They work together to achieve the project goals
Schedule a time and a place for daily scrum. Stick to this schedule. It is best to conduct the scrum in the morning so .that tasks for the day are set. If the team works in different shifts then hold the scrum in the middle of the day. The meeting should be held in the team’s workspace so that the scrum board can be viewed and updated. For co-located teams, use an online scrum board to update progress.
Time-box the meeting. The ideal duration for a scrum is 15 minutes. Ensure that the meeting doesn’t derail into planning or problem-solving. Use a giant timer to ensure your meeting doesn’t extend beyond fifteen minutes.
Conducting the Scrum
To signal the start and end of the meeting use cues such as an appropriate song or any other cue. This sets the rhythm for the daily standup. The team is energized and it creates a Pavlovian response to the daily standup meeting. Songs that work well as cues include Get Up, Stand Up – Bob Marley or you could use any of these songs on YouTube. You can also use an appropriate catchphrase to signal the end of the meeting.
Some teams choose not to stand. However, standing up gets the momentum going. It keeps the meeting short and you can avoid rambling. Remove all sources of distraction such as phones. Decide in advance the order in which the attendees will speak, you can either go clockwise or anticlockwise.
Use the 3 question agenda
Ask attendees to answer these questions.
- What have I done since the last meeting?
- What do I plan to complete before the next meeting
- What problems am I likely to face?
Don’t spend too much time on the first question. Focus on what needs to be done and the problems or impediments that may arise. The scrum master is responsible for solving the problems after the scrum meeting. When answering these questions, address the team, not the scrum master. Always refer to the scrum board to provide context. Ensure that you provide sufficient detail, that is relevant for the team. If you would like to shake things up at your next scrum, try using this question format by Jonathan Rasmussen:
- What did you do to change the world yesterday?
- How are you going to crush it today?
- How are you going to blast through any obstacles unfortunate enough to be standing in your way?
Bad Habits that Ruin Scrum Meetings
Don’t delay the start of the meeting
Waiting for team members to show before starting the meeting sets a bad precedent. It gives the impression that this meeting is not important. Also, don’t start the work day with the scrum meeting. No work gets done until the meeting starts, which affects productivity. Stick to a time and penalize those who join late.
Don’t use scrum meeting as a planning meeting
These meetings should not be used to introduce new ideas or make plans. Issues requiring more attention should be taken offline. Do not engage in long technical discussion, push these to a parking lot and schedule a time to discuss it later.
Don’t allow the meeting to go off track
Ask team members to give a brief description, instead of rambling. Set a time limit for each speaker and ask them to share only valuable information with the team. You can also use the technique “Walk the board”, where you can discuss each task on the scrum board. You can use this sequence to move through all the items:
- Items that need immediate attention
- Items that haven’t been moved since last scrum meeting
- All the other items in order of priority
- Each team member speaks whenever the task that he is working on, comes up for discussion.
Scrum meetings are not just about standing up. They are a way for the teams to communicate and work together. Effective scrum meetings help in detecting problems faster and adjust plans in order to achieve the sprint goal. So, get set, cue the music and run your daily scrum.