Stand-up meetings are the heart of an Agile project. During a stand-up meeting the most important information is shared and roadblocks are removed. This makes the stand-up meeting essential for the success of the project.
What happens during these meetings? Each team member shares what they did yesterday, what they intend to do / achieve today and discuss potential obstacles that could help them get on with their work.
What is a stand-up meeting
A stand-up meeting is a team meeting held in standing position at the start of each working day. All technical and business specialist team members should attend along with the project manager, sometimes called the Scrum Master.
The stand up meeting gives you the basics to stay in control of the project: tracking progress based on the features planned for each sprint is your control mechanism.
The stand up meeting is made to align the team and to share the progress made. Completed features are reported in stand-up meetings, as well as on the feature board, in the team room.
Five important rules for stand-up meetings
The duration should be about 15 minutes, max 30: the stand-up meeting must be short and to the point. Participants remain standing, so that the meeting is fast, optimistic and active.
The stand up meeting is not to resolve problems. If there are any problems they should be reported and discussed after the stand-up meeting, and reported to the group the following day. Not to solve problems, might be the most difficult habit to break. The idea however is that if you manage the problems after the meeting, you make sure that only the necessary team members are part of the discussion.
The team leads
The project manager takes the role of an observer, leaving space for the team to lead. As a project manager, you should look at the problems that have not been solved and remove the roadblocks for the team. Additionally, you should ensure that the risks are diminishing and after the stand-ups, you should communicate the status to key stakeholders, so that they are informed of the progress of the project.
The Project Manager’s job during the Explore phase is to protect and increase the productivity of each team member by leaving them to manage the distractions that can slow down their work. If features are lagging behind, find out why, try to make changes as fast as possible and take note so that lessons learned can be applied.
Here are some things to observe during daily meetings: is the team collaborating or is there tension in the air? Are there any risks that may impact future sprints? Is there a common problem that you can help solve (after the meeting of course!)? There is a lot of valuable information you can get from your stand up meetings if you are careful and take action when needed.
Stand-up meetings help you figure out how to do this by giving you a visual of what the team faces each day.
Use the information
Make sure that issues mentioned in the stand-up meeting are resolved in a timely manner: your issue log will give you the mechanism to determine if issues / issues are growing in volume. As in non-Agile projects, keeping a record of issues is necessary. This can be an indication that something is going wrong and that you should consider changes.
How to improve your stand-up meeting
- Change the presentation order every day: always changing the order adds energy to meetings;
- Assign a person on the team the role of “timekeeper” to have the group well concentrated. 30 to 60 seconds per person is enough. For each sprint the timekeeper must change.
- Hold the meeting at the same time every day
- Make sure that the meeting always ends on a positive note: let the team share the victories achieved after the last meeting. For example, did the business really like what it saw in the last product review? Was a resource on the technical team able to overcome an issue the team is particularly proud of? Sharing victories is a great way to keep your spirits high and show progress is being made.
- Include your colleagues working from remote: do not see remote working as a hindrance but change the format of the stand-up meeting by using an online meeting tool!
Stand-up meetings of just 15 minute can be important and useful – now all that remains is to commit to making your stand up meetings focused, short and flawless. Cause commitment is the real key factor to success!