Are Daily Standups Necessary and Effective?

Daily standups often get a bad reputation amongst Scrum teams. It’s easy to see why. They are difficult to schedule and even when you get everyone in the same room (or on the same call) participants often leave the standup feeling like they just wasted their time.

But this doesn’t mean you should throw away the daily standup as a process — it just needs an upgrade.

In our experience — as a fully remote team that loves doing the daily standup  — it can be incredibly effective if you’re using the right tool (and standup format) to facilitate your meetings.

Below, we cover the common problemsteams experience when running daily standups, but we also offer solutions. Specifically, we explain the key differences between synchronous standups and asynchronous standups and show you how teams use Geekbot, our daily standup tool, to run more effective daily standups.

Would you like to run asynchronous daily standups that are quicker and less disruptive? Click here to start your free trial of Geekbot.

The Underlying Problem with Daily Standups

Teams run into two major complications with daily standups: scheduling and format.

Scheduling standups is an issue because it’s difficult to consistently get your entire team in the same place, at a time that works best for everyone.

When you try scheduling a standup you run into these obstacles:

  • Distributed teams working out of different time zones: What’s morning for you could be the end of the day for someone else.
  • Calendar clashes: Daily standups can occur when a developer needs to get on an important call with a Senior Designer or offshore team.
  • Workflow interruption: When a developer gets into a flow, and they’re working on a tough problem, the last thing they want is to be interrupted.

All of these add up to another issue: By having your team jump through hoops or re-arrange their schedule for a standup, you’re not setting the stage for a productive meeting. Rushed or stressed participants aren’t going to put their best foot forward, and it’s the standup (and the whole team) that suffers.

This leads us to our next point.

Once you get everyone at the same standup, the next issue is how to format your standup correctly and effectively.

Teams who feel like standups are a complete waste of time are usually dealing with poorly run standups that can be diagnosed with this underlying problem: they take too long and provide little to no value to the team.

During ineffective standups, you are:

  • Listening to updates that aren’t relevant to your own work.
  • Listening as developers try to solve blockers in real-time (when they should plan to solve the blocker after the standup is over).
  • Listening as team members spend too much time discussing what they accomplished, instead of delivering short and concise updates.

These issues (and other common mistakes) can bloat your standup long past the recommended 15-minute (maximum) meeting time frame.

How to Run More Effective, Asynchronous Daily Standups in Slack

Synchronous standups lend themselves to the problems we discussed above. Not only are they are difficult to schedule but they are hard to manage in real-time.

It’s those issues (and others) that can be solved by using Geekbot — our asynchronous daily standup tool that integrates with your Slack account.

By using Geekbot, you eliminate:

  • Any scheduling concerns. Participants fill out their standup responses when it’s most convenient for them.
  • Overly long standups. Most teams who use Geekbot complete the entire standup process in ~5 minutes. Typing your standup responses and skimming through your teammates’ answers is much quicker than sharing or listening to updates in-person.
  • Workflow disruptions. Standup participants can snooze Geekbot if they’re mid-task, and Geekbot will send them a follow-up notification to complete the standup at a later, more convenient time.

How to Schedule a Daily Standup Meeting with Geekbot

From your Geekbot dashboard, you can select the participants that you want to receive the daily standup.

Then you can select the days, time, and frequency of the standup.

Note: Geekbot lets you pick “User’s local timezone” when selecting a time. For example, you can have your standup set for 12:25 PM, and Geekbot sends the standup notification to everyone when it’s the right time in their respective time zone.

With Geekbot, you can customize standup questions to arrive at a specific time in each user's local timezone.

Bonus: Edit Your Standup Questions

Traditionally, standups consist of the three following questions:

  1. What did you do yesterday?
  2. What will you do today?
  3. Anything blocking your progress?

Some of our customers add a fourth question. This is entirely customizable to the questions you’d like to ask.

"How do you feel today? What did you do yesterday? What will you do today? Anything blocking your progress?"

Asking your team “How do you feel today?” goes a long way in creating a positive work environment.

Note: If you’d like to see how GitLab uses Geekbot to increase team camaraderie, see this case study.

How to Run Your Daily Standup with Geekbot

When it’s time for a team member to fill out their daily standup, they get an alert from Geekbot, which works a bit like the Slackbot you’re already familiar with.

Geekbot: "What did you do since yesterday? What will you do today? Anything blocking your progress?"

Team members can respond to Geekbot immediately or hit snooze. Our snooze feature lets folks finish whatever task they’re currently working on (or wrap-up whatever meeting they’re in) and come back to the standup questions later, when it’s more convenient for them.

When responses are filled out, Geekbot automatically shares them in your designated Slack channel.

When team members respond to the standup questions, the answers are all located in one channel.

Since you’re running your standup out of Slack, participants can tag one another when they need someone’s help.

 As you can see below, team members can then create a thread so they don’t crowd up the main Slack channel with their conversation.

Team members can easily reply within the thread and have a discussion without having to interrupting everyone else.

How to View Standup Responses with Geekbot

With Geekbot, your team’s standup responses are publicly available in your Slack channel.

You can also setup email summaries through Geekbot’s dashboard. These email summaries send you a breakdown of the daily standup straight to your inbox.

Geekbot Standup Summaries can be sent daily, weekly, biweekly; the option is yours.

From Geekbot’s Dashboard, you can also see an overview of your team’s standup responses, filtered by date.

Daily standup: Team happiness, insights and timeline

Note: This is just the tip of the iceberg. Geekbot offers many other useful features for Scrum teams, such as data-driven insights based on everyone’s standup responses. You can learn more about what’s possible with our tool here.

So, Are Daily Standups Effective?

In short, yes.

Here’s the longer answer: Daily standups can be very effective, when they are held correctly. Meanwhile, ineffective daily standups can waste everyone’s time and drain team morale.

To help Scrum teams hold better standups, we created Geekbot.

By running asynchronous standups, you can…

  • Easily schedule standups that will work for everyone and reduce workflow interruptions.
  • Get standups done quickly, since typing and reading updates can be done in a short time.
  • Share responses in a Slack channel (that’s easily skimmable) so developers don’t have to waste time on a call while co-workers discuss tasks not relevant to their day.
  • Utilize the thread feature (or private messaging) in Slack so teammates can solve blockers together without monopolizing the standup and disrupting others.

Are you ready to run asynchronous daily standups that are quicker and less disruptive? Click here to start your free trial of Geekbot.

Frequently asked questions

How Long Is the Daily Scrum Meeting?

Per the official Scrum Guide, a daily scrum shouldn’t last longer than 15 minutes. However, plenty of frustrated teams report their daily scrums lasting way longer than that.

     

At Geekbot, we developed an asynchronous daily scrum tool that solves this problem.

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