8 Tips to Run More Effective Daily Standup Meetings

Daily standup meetings are a keystone of the scrum methodology. They can help team members address roadblocks and resolve them, strengthen the team’s shared goals, save time, promote transparency, and ensure that everyone is accountable. Overall, it’s a great resource to improve the team flow, measure and speed up processes, and promote trust.

However, daily scrums can come with their share of challenges and quickly become unproductive. Consider our tips below to help you navigate some of the most frequent challenges and make your meetings more efficient.

1. Keep it Short

One of the defining characteristics of daily standup meetings is that they should be short, preferably under 15 minutes. If the meeting has too many members, most likely, people are straying away from the main topic, or you are discussing things that are not relevant to a daily scrum meeting.

If you have daily scrums with more than 15 members, they have 1 minute each to speak, which might be cutting it a bit short. As a team, you may want to reconsider whether having so many people is fruitful or if maybe it would be better to have smaller, more specific meetings between members. If that’s not the case, just make sure to make transitions quick and the updates to the point.

2. Limit the Topics of Discussions

As we mentioned before, briefness and relevancy are essential to effective and productive daily standings. When members go off topic and discuss subjects that are not relevant to all members and can easily be addressed separately, people not involved in the task can lose focus and interest in what’s being discussed.

Keep it simple. Don’t discuss what you did yesterday and what you will be doing, but rather what you accomplished and what will be accomplished regarding the product or service you are working on.

3. Update the Backlog Without Focusing Too Much on Numbers

It’s hard not to get caught up in the number of hours you have left of the sprint to take on other tasks, so instead, focus on the task at hand and any issues you may be experiencing. Make it more qualitative, and assess your progress. Don’t let the hours become the focus of the meeting or the role of the Scrum Master. Yes, knowing how others manage their time can be helpful, but there are more efficient ways to achieve the same result.

4. In the Beginning, It’s All About Trial and Error

If you are just starting with daily standup meetings, you will need to make adjustments along the way. In theory, everything looks great, but when you begin conducting them, you may need to adjust the style of the meeting. If people are getting off-topic, you may want to focus on specific tasks on the board instead of letting each individual discuss their tasks freely.

Eventually, you will find the style, discussion method, meeting times, and group size that best suits your standup agenda.

5. Don’t Try to Fix What Already Works

Building and maintaining a routine can help increase efficiency. For this reason, you always need to start at the same time, regardless of whether everyone is there already, and use the format that best suits the team.

However, consistency may not be the best answer if you are experiencing issues: people get bored, skip the meeting, and don’t make it on time. If the daily standup is not going the way you expect, you might need to change it up. Try changing the order, analyze backlog items instead of going person by person, and switch the scrum master until everyone is more comfortable –there isn’t one proven way that works for every team.

6. Make Sure the Information is Relevant to Everyone

To encourage attendance and engagement and keep your daily scrum short, ensure the information is relevant to everyone participating. If the way a roadblock was resolved is useful for the whole team, ask the person to briefly address the issue in the next meeting.

The topics discussed need to be pertinent and help others with their tasks, otherwise it might be best to hold a separate meeting and discuss the specifics.

7. Follow Up Without Focusing on Solving Specific Issues

Having everyone meet at a specific time can be tempting, and you might want to start a brainstorming session to find creative ways to solve particular issues, but daily standup meetings have a clear purpose, and that’s not it.

Yes, it’s good to follow up on issues presented the day before, but you don’t want to spend an hour or two discussing potential solutions. If the person is struggling to find an answer, set up a separate meeting to go over the roadblocks and brainstorm.

8. Consider Specialized Tools

Worksheets can sometimes present even more roadblocks than solutions, and the daily standup process can be more intricate. Several other tools can help, and you can even automate the entire process.

Using project management software like Jira or Trello can simplify tracking tasks per collaborator and quickly start new sprints, making your daily standup meetings more efficient.

Stand-Bot is an automation tool that gathers the status of each teammate’s tasks and blockers through Slack, and shares it with everyone. This way, you can get a quick update without ever meeting. You get all the benefits without having to affect the day-to-day of others.

Sup can be easily integrated with Slack and ask surveys to your collaborators to learn more about them and how useful they find daily standup meetings. You can ask questions and save them as templates to create follow-ups, generate sprint check-ins throughout the day, and set up reminders for standups to make sure everyone attends.

Other useful tools to make your daily scrums more efficient are Agile Retrospectives and Scrum Poker (Jira & Confluence), Freshdesk, and Freshservice (Trello).

Useful Questions to Help You Navigate Daily Standup Meetings

According to Scrum, standup questions should focus on tasks completed since the last meeting, tasks that will be tackled during the day of the meeting, and any roadblocks or issues that may affect progress.

However, other scrum questions can help you learn more about your collaborators, such as:

  • How confident are you that you will get “it” done? – This question essentially rephrases the one mentioned before about issues. Still, it can give a clearer picture of the ability of that specific person to solve the problem ahead without any help and adjust the timeline if necessary.
  • What tasks are remaining from yesterday? – Although this is not a traditional question, it can help follow up with older tasks and ensure everything is flowing correctly. It’s also a great way of getting insight into how other collaborators are performing.
  • What is the workload? – This question can give insight into the team mood and task progress.
  • How is your mood today? – Although this question is not for every meeting, it can help gauge the team’s morale and implement additional motivators. 

Although some scrum questions are considered basics, ask yourself whether there may be more accurate ones you should be asking or questions that may be specific to your industry. For example, if you have writers and content editors, you might want to ask about the number of articles left or the number of words written or reviewed yesterday.

The agile methodology offers a wide array of benefits for teams, especially in software development, and one that Nearsure has adopted and applied successfully for a while now. If you are interested in joining our team, visit our Careers section.