Stand Up Meetings – “Scrums”

So the new space is coming along, and before long the development team will be relocated into the new space – whats next?  Well, since we still have development efforts under way and still investigating/adopting formal Agile techniques, we want to introduce visible changes to the way we develop software – and we’ll begin with stand-up meetings.

One of the first Agile best practices that companies attempt to implement is the stand up meeting, or “Scrum,” as it is often called.  Now, trying to hedge the issues other adopters seem to regularly face, we’re quickly enforcing measures aimed to make our meetings as effective as possible right from the very start.  Here are a few things to consider:

  • Keep it focused – The purpose of the meeting is to help maintain focus on the iteration plan and to remove any obstacles. To that end, each team member should briefly state what they did yesterday, what they are doing today, and raise any issues or roadblocks.
  • Keep it short – A stand up meeting shouldn’t take longer than about 15 minutes. If an important issue is raised that affects the whole team, address it. If the issue applies to a few, take it off-line.
  • Use a project board – We intend to meet around a project board, which tracks progress against the iteration plan, listing the “stories” and assignees, as well as status. This helps keep the eyes on the prize. It also helps speed up the meeting by providing a convenient reference (“I resolved story X yesterday, and I’m working on story Y today, which is my last story of the iteration”).
  • Keep it constructive – Don’t turn this into a daily inquisition or it will fail. As a developer hits a roadblock or falls behind, remember that the point is, “We are a team, let’s help each other succeed as a team.” If handled positively, the issues will be raised, and people will pitch in to help.
  • Share announcements –This is also a good time to share brief, general announcements, e.g. “We’re branching the code at noon today.”

The stand up meeting isn’t intended as an end-all team communication. Ideally, most roadblocks will be identified and handled as they arise, not just in this meeting. We fully expect if done right (and it may take us some tweaking to get there), stand up meetings will improve our team’s effectiveness, as we’ll be communicating more frequently and each be working off of the same page toward a common goal, knocking down the road blocks, and helping each other hit our deliverables on time!


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