Daily Stand-Up Meetings
If you use an Agile approach to manage your company’s projects, you might be asked to hold a daily stand-up. These brief meetings allow team members and stakeholders to touch base and get on the same page about how projects are going, without going into all the granular details.
But exactly what is a daily stand-up meeting? What does it entail and how should such meetings be run? The following tips will help you lead effective stand-up meetings in Agile that informs, holds yoaur team accountable, and stays on topic.
Table of Contents
- What is a stand-up meeting in Agile?
- Types of Agile stand-up meetings.
- Benefits of a daily stand-up meeting in Agile.
- Common stand-up mistakes.
- Stand-up meetings for distributed teams.
- Better meetings create better projects.
- Frequently asked questions.
What is a stand-up meeting in Agile?
A daily stand-up meeting in Agile is an opportunity for the project team to discuss a project’s progress at a high level. These meetings last 15 minutes and allow each contributor to report on their accomplishments since the last stand-up meeting. It helps ensure everyone is aligned and knows what’s going on.
True to its name, all participants in an Agile stand-up usually remain standing to keep the meetings short and on-topic. However, digital stand-ups are also possible and becoming more common due to increased hybrid and remote working.
Making sure there’s a repeatable agenda is the best way to keep either format of a daily stand-up meeting running smoothly. Daily stand-up meetings are essential in Agile project management and allow project members to:
- Share critical information
- Openly discuss issues
- Hold themselves and each other accountable
The collaboration and transparent level of communication can also improve team dynamics. This can make completing a project together more productive and enjoyable for everyone involved.
Types of Agile stand-up meetings.
Depending on whether you’re using the Scrum or Kanban approach for Agile, your daily stand-up meetings will look a little different. Here’s what to expect in each type of Agile stand-up meeting:
A scrum stand-up is a 15-minute daily meeting, occurring each day of the sprint to discuss progress and quickly note any issues. Each contributor answers three questions:
- What have you accomplished since the last meeting?
- What are you working on before the next meeting?
- What is getting in your way or preventing you from doing your job?
These three questions hold team members accountable to their tasks and commitments by encouraging small, achievable goals that are shared with the team. They also allow team members to discuss problems, challenges, and setbacks openly, so no one is left in the dark.
The Kanban approach to project management focuses on eliminating bottlenecks before or as they pop up. In your daily stand-up you’ll first pull up the Kanban visual workflow, so the project manager or lead can identify any bottlenecks. Figuring out where problems occur, or capacity challenges might begin to appear is crucial in these meetings.
Instead of answering three questions, in a Kanban-style stand-up daily meeting the focus is on identifying issues and solving them, rather than discussing what everyone is working on. The visual board allows everyone to quickly see where tasks are, sparing team members from needing to detail where they are in the project flow.
Benefits of a daily stand-up meeting in Agile.
Whichever approach you use, an Agile daily stand-up allows team members to work collaboratively toward project goals. While Scrum stand-ups focus on completing the sprint’s goals, Kanban stand-up meetings work towards correcting bottlenecks before they slow down production.
Daily stand-up meetings are important for Agile teams, offering key benefits as they:
- Keep team members focused and on-task
- Provide quick, project-level updates to the rest of the team
- Hold all team members accountable for their part in a project
Looking at the team’s current workflow and monitoring where they are on certain tasks or items, as part of stand-up meetings in Agile teams, keeps everything on track. Your daily stand-up should inform and draw out problems, so you can get ahead of issues before they pop up.
Because the Agile methodology is all about versatility and flexibility, it’s important to tweak and improve your meetings to fit your team’s needs.
Common stand-up mistakes.
While stand-up meetings can save time, it’s easy for them to spin out of control if not managed properly. Here are some common mistakes that can cause an Agile stand-up to veer off course.
1. Avoiding the agenda.
A daily stand-up should only last 15 minutes, so staying on schedule is crucial. For instance, in Scrum stand-ups, team members’ answers to the three questions need to be quick and concise.
If an issue requires further discussion, it should be added to a parking lot list to be discussed in more detail later. Your parking lot list can be written on a whiteboard, typed into a digital document, or added to your work management software, depending on the platform you use.
Members can add items to this parking lot list outside the daily stand-up, to ensure your meeting progresses as planned.
2. Covering tasks in depth.
Team members don’t need to describe in detail every task they’re accomplishing. Instead of going in-depth about all 25 webpage templates the developer is working on, they can note that the first half of the website templates will be built before the next meeting.
This puts the task in context and highlights high-level progress that all participants can easily understand. Likewise, Kanban stand-up meetings should only address issues or challenges and not focus on what each team member is working on.
The visual Kanban board allows team members to quickly see where tasks are and who is working on them. Removing this repetitive step can restore valuable time to investigate challenges.
3. Ignoring repeating issues.
If one team member has the same status update or mentions the same bottleneck every meeting, you have some following up to do. For instance, in a Scrum stand-up meeting, if your web copywriter seems to be making little progress yet reports they:
- Spent yesterday researching
- Plan to spend today researching
- Have no issues to report
It could be a sign there is an issue. You may want to meet with them separately after the daily stand-up. Find out what’s being researched, how much more research is left, and if any hurdles are preventing them from moving on to the copywriting phase. As the project manager or Scrum Master, it’s your job to ensure these meetings serve their intended purpose. Addressing any issues as soon as they’re spotted is vital.
4. Skipping daily stand-up meetings.
Holding an Agile stand-up at the same time each day is important — within reason. If one day a week is impossible to meet at the same time, you can accommodate. However, consistency is key to stand-up meetings in Agile teams.
Since stand-up meetings are quick, team members may think it’s fine to skip and email their tasks and challenges in advance. Allowing team members to do this could cause others to skip too — if they feel they’re no longer mandatory. Some team members may then miss valuable project updates and be out of the loop on changes or challenges.
To avoid this, require daily attendance from everyone. Set up a conference line for anyone who works remotely or travels, so they can present their updates wherever they are. Since this is only a 15-minute meeting, everyone should be able to make time for it, even if they’re on the road.
5. Not establishing whose turn it is to speak.
The silence between team member updates can eat up time and cause stand-up meetings to feel slightly awkward and disorganized. If you’re meeting in person, you can have team members pass a ball or other object around the table, until everyone with tasks has a chance to speak.
When running a stand-up meeting virtually, there are additional challenges, with no physical signals and split-second time delays. There are a few things you can try to determine whose turn it is to speak:
- Project manager or Scrum Master says who should speak.
- Current speaker chooses names who should talk next.
- Follow a set order in each daily stand-up and post this in the text chat.
6. Forgetting to show your task board.
Displaying the task board for that day, week, or sprint, whether on a whiteboard or in your work management system, is important for the entire meeting.
In Scrum meetings, this gives team members the chance to speak up if user stories (tasks) or story points (hours) have been over/underestimated — to really focus on the goals for that sprint. In Kanban, the visual flow is important when identifying bottlenecks.
Projecting or screen sharing your project management tool during this meeting also allows others who are not reporting to better understand the current state of the project and see which tasks are being worked on and when.
Stand-up meetings for distributed teams.
Even if your team is distributed or includes remote contributors, it’s still important to include everyone in your daily stand-up meetings. With hybrid and remote working becoming more common, alongside team members sometimes traveling during the time agreed for the daily stand-up, a virtual option is important.
Add video conferencing lines to your meeting invites and make sure there’s a clear agenda that can be viewed at the beginning of the meeting. This way all team members can join from their own working space, ensuring nobody misses out and there’s a level playing field.
Then share the work board digitally, so everyone can see the items in the sprint or the cards in your Kanban flow. Running a stand-up meeting in Agile teams remotely introduces a few fresh challenges, but many of these can be easily overcome.
Use these few tips to run a successful distributed daily stand-up:
- Create an order list – It can be harder to “pass the ball” with a virtual meeting. Write a list of names to ensure everyone speaks about their tasks in order and no one talks over anyone else. The project manager may want to announce each name, prompting that person to share.
- Show your face – When attendees can see each other, remote meetings are more effective. It increases focus as everyone is visible, just like at an in-person stand-up meeting, so they must keep their eyes on screen. Make it mandatory for team members to turn on their cameras for the stand-up — within reason.
- Start on time – Stick with a fixed time for the stand-up and start it on time, even if a few members are late. Waiting for participants can eat into others’ time — and sometimes those you’re waiting for might not attend anyway. You can set calendar reminders or send email prompts a few minutes before.
- Review – Invite remote participants to review the board ahead of time and come to the meeting prepared to follow the agenda. This can help keep stand-up meetings in Agile teams concise and impactful.
- Set time limits – It can be easier for team members to keep talking and veer away from the agenda when they can’t physically see how engaged others are. Interrupting to guide them back on track can also be tricky with a virtual meeting. To ensure everyone sticks to the agenda, the meeting leader or project manager can impose a time limit for each speaker.
Better meetings create better projects.
Daily stand-up meetings are essential for any Agile project. Since stand-ups are only 15 minutes, you can keep your team focused by sticking to the agenda, preparing updates ahead of time, and scheduling follow-up meetings to discuss any challenges that arise.
Frequently asked questions.
What is a stand-up meeting in project management?
A stand-up meeting in project management is a chance to discuss timescales, upcoming tasks and challenges. It might be a good idea to host these meetings with the project manager and the employees involved in the project all in attendance.
This way, the employees can air any issues they may be having, or identify challenges that the project manager can then quickly action.
Why stand up in a stand-up meeting?
Stand-up meetings are designed to be brief and it is thought that the discomfort of standing for long-periods, by nature, keeps any such meeting short in duration.
What industries can stand-up meetings be used in?
Stand-up meetings can be used in any business and industry. They are flexible and can be used whenever you feel that such a practice would be beneficial for your team.
Most commonly, daily stand-up style meetings are used in software development and programming services, where there are many moving parts and stakeholders. These projects are generally more complicated in nature, so regular stand-up meetings can help ensure everything is on track.