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Scrum in practice: the daily Scrum

The daily Scrum meeting – also known as the stand-up – is usually the shortest meeting in Scrum but also the most important. Time-boxed to 15 minutes it usually takes place at the beginning of each working day, ideally around the Scrum team’s task board.

During the daily Scrum meeting each team member will give an update on what they achieved towards the Scrum goal yesterday, what they hope to achieve today, and whether there’s anything blocking them from progressing.

the-daily-scrum-in-the-sprint-cycle

Who attends the daily Scrum meeting?

All team members must attend the daily Scrum, including the ScrumMaster and the Product Owner.

The daily Scrum is where team members make commitments to each other about what they’re working on.

If, for example, you need a particular item to be finished by another team member before you can begin a different item, it’s useful to know when you can expect the first item to be finished. If the other team member says they’ll be working on that item today then you know they’ll give another update about it tomorrow.

It’s a very useful meeting for keeping everyone up to date on the progress of the Scrum team, so people external to the team might find attending the meeting very useful. It’s recommended however that people who aren’t committing to any of the Scrum team’s work shouldn’t speak at the daily Scrum, but merely act as observers.

The stand up is not an update to the Product Owner or ScrumMaster but a synchronisation between the whole team.

Daily Scrum format

Most of the time the format of the stand-up is to go around the circle with each person in turn giving an update on yesterday’s achievements, today’s plans and any blockers.

When issues raised in the daily Scrum require further discussion they should be taken up after the meeting by the relevant people, not discussed at length in the meeting.

Sometimes a useful variation on the round-the-circle approach is to go through each item in the sprint backlog in turn. In this variation the same team member might give several updates instead of just one, depending on how many user stories they’re committed to.

This format can help the team focus on achievements related to the sprint goal rather than extraneous details or tasks. Under this format though it can be harder to keep track of who’s committed to what – especially with big teams.

Blockers and impediments

Blockers might include technical issues like needing access to particular software, broken hardware or insufficient permissions; organisational issues like needing to meet with a particular person who can’t give you time or being temporarily redeployed by your manager to another job; or external problems with contractors or suppliers.

It is the responsibility of the ScrumMaster to help facilitate the resolution of impediments to the team’s progress as quickly as possible. This may mean resolving the issue directly or helping the team solve the problem for themselves. Impediments should be added to an impediment list by the ScrumMaster.

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  1. Ajie says:

    Hi jim,
    Thanks for this nice article. We figured out that standup meetings are great but needed improvement (they took a lot of time, de-focussed our colleagues and interrupted their workflows). Because of this we developed a SaaS tool to “automate” the daily standup meetings – with just a single email.
    Best,
    Ajie

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