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Empower your daily standups

The daily standup meeting is a very popular ritual in Agile software development. The main reason for standing up is to avoid getting confortable. As a result, those meetings tend to be rather short (15 minutes).

There is more to the standup meeting than just standing up, but doing so reminds everyone to keep it short and to-the-point.

Those meetings are a great way to provide status updates to team members and let everyone know about impediments that slow or stop the team's progression.

Is it really needed?

A few days ago, there was a good post stating that the Daily stand-up is an antipattern.

The author argues that if the team members are paying attention, they would already know the answers to the three standup questions. He also finds that meetings are often late, interrupting real work and that they often get abused as status meetings by managers.

In my mind, those arguments are very valid and I think that if your toolset allows you to provide all actors with a good sense of what got done yesterday, what is about to come and what is stuck, you have a chance at skipping them altogether.

However, I don't think that sharing your Github activities, following chat conversations and forcing those actors to physically look at your Scrum board is the best approach — especially for non-developers.

Benefits of using tools

One big advantage of using tools is that it's all done asynchronously. Each stakeholder looks up the information he needs to know, without interrupting the whole team.

However, this kind of set-up would require everyone to have access to all relevant tools and to understand how to use them properly. It doesn't look like a realistic solution for most teams out there.

Instead, why not have a tool that aggregates this information and allows you to share it with fellow developers but also with scrum masters, product owners, management and your clients without ever forcing them to have an account in one of your apps.

At Insight, we gather all Pivotal Tracker activity, code activity and other informations from our favorite tools we customize each dashboard and share it with the audience it is intended for.

I have also seen teams that love to display notes of previous retrospectives just because it helps them remember their commitments.

Benefits of direct human interactions

Being physically or remotely there for a short meeting of 15 minutes has a few advantages that cannot be overlooked.

As humans, we have the ability to adjust the level of details we provide depending on the reaction of the people around us and context we are in. This enables us give to give more or less details based on the reactions we get.

If the meeting is kept short and to-the-point, it could boost the team with a sense of purpose and belonging since the team will share emotions along with facts.

Do we still need daily standup meetings?

I still think there are some benefits to direct human interactions during the daily standup, because you get a different perspective than what you could get from your tools alone, no matter how advanced they are.

The tools can, in turn, make your standups even more useful when you have data and metrics that support your thoughts.

In the end, I think that tools are a way to enhance and support the daily standup — not suppress it.