In a recent post analyzing each of the 3 daily scrum questions, we covered the obvious purpose of the daily scrum:
- Assess performance in the last 24 hours (i.e., Is everyone productive and advancing towards their objectives? Do yesterday’s events change today’s plan?)
- Plan for the next 24 hours (i.e., is everyone on the same page regarding the work that needs to be done today? Does a teammate need help with a blocker?)
In that same post, we discuss the less obvious benefits of the daily scrum (such as gaining insights on engineer traits based on their answers, revealing organizational dysfunction based on common patterns, and so on).
But many Scrum teams don’t reap these benefits, which makes them question the purpose of the daily scrum. Why keep having a meeting that isn’t benefiting the team?
In our experience, this happens more often when teams are running synchronous daily scrums.
This is because synchronous meetings come with 4 key problems:
- They run too long.
- They’re disruptive.
- They’re hard to schedule.
- The updates aren’t always relevant to the entire team.
In this post, we look at those problems in more detail. Then we show you how using Geekbot (our asynchronous meeting tool that integrates with your Slack and MS Teams account) can help solve the problems, letting your team run faster, less disruptive, and more productive daily scrums.
How Synchronous Meetings Undermine Your Daily Scrum’s Purpose
Synchronous daily scrums are notorious for these 4 issues:
- People quickly get off-topic: When you get everyone together at the same time, you run the risk of people talking over each other or starting side conversations. Developers may also try to solve blockers in real-time, instead of planning to attack the issue after the daily scrum. Consequently, what should be no more than 15 minutes, can easily balloon into 30+ minutes.
- They disrupt your team’s workday: Synchronous meetings take you out of whatever you’re working on. We all know from experience how frustrating this can be, and research shows it can take an average of 23 minutes to return to the same level of focus.
- Synchronous scrum meetings are inconvenient for remote teams: If you have 4 team members working in different time zones, then you need to figure out the best time to get everyone on the same call. And someone may end up having to get on at an inconvenient time (such as before their workday starts or even after it officially ends).Even if you’re not working with distributed teams, it’s still a hassle to find a time that works for everyone every day, due to busy calendars and other priorities.
- Daily scrum updates aren’t always relevant to the entire team: If you attend a daily scrum with 6 team members, then someone could deliver an important update that’s noteworthy for 2 team members but isn’t relevant for the rest of the team. As we’ll discuss soon, this is different from asynchronous daily scrum meetings (where you read everyone’s responses and can skip past the ones that aren’t relevant to you).
Below we look at how you can use our asynchronous daily scrum software — Geekbot — to fix these issues and get back to reaping the benefits of holding daily scrums.
The Benefits of Running Asynchronous Daily Scrums with Geekbot
Geekbot integrates with your Slack and MS Teams account.
Here’s a quick explanation of how it works.
- Geekbot sends out the daily scrum questions to your team via direct messages.
- Once a team member fills out their responses, their answers are shared in a Slack channel.
- In the Slack channel, other team members can skim responses and focus on what’s relevant to them. They can also create threads and have discussions to help other team members solve any ongoing impediments.
Our tool is free for teams of 10 or fewer. Otherwise, it’s $2.50 per user per month (when billed annually) and $3.00 per user per month (when billed monthly).
Below, we dive into the benefits you can receive by running asynchronous daily scrums with Geekbot.
With Geekbot, Daily Scrum Meetings are Quick
Again, synchronous daily scrums often run too long due to teammates:
- Talking over each other or starting side conversations,
- Delivering updates that aren’t concise,
- Solving blockers in real-time,
- And so on.
But with Geekbot, all of the problems mentioned above are naturally avoided. From our experience, it typically takes each team member around 5 minutes to finish their update and read others’ responses.
With Geekbot, Scrum Meetings Don’t Disrupt Your Work Day
Asynchronous scrum meetings are naturally non-disruptive because you can fill them out at your convenience.
Let’s say you get a message from Geekbot at the worst possible time. You’re in the middle of an impromptu call with a junior developer who is struggling with a line of code. You can simply snooze Geekbot, effectively telling Geekbot that now is not a good time and to follow up with you later in the day.
This feature is optional, so you don’t need to have it on, and each team member can choose whether they want reminders or if they just want to handle it themselves. But it’s a great way to make sure you remember to fill out your daily scrum.
With Geekbot, Scrum Meetings Are Easy to Schedule
With Geekbot, you can pick which days you want to have a daily scrum (and what frequency, such as weekly, every other week, and so on).
And to make Geekbot ideal for remote teams, you can automatically factor in each user’s local timezone (meaning, they get a direct message asking to answer the 3 daily scrum questions in their specific timezone, rather than at an odd time in the day).
This is a highly appreciated feature, based on the reviews we’ve received on third-party sites like Capterra (where we have 95 reviews and an average 4.9/5 star rating).
As Marie states in her review, without using Geekbot to factor in local timezones, running daily scrums would be a mess for her team members in Europe, the U.S., South America, and New Zealand.
With Geekbot, Scrum Meetings Are More Relevant to Everyone on the Team
Again, after you fill out your responses, they’re shared in a Slack channel. (Geekbot lets you pick whatever channel you want — you can even create a new one or make it private so only your development team can see the updates.)
This means you can skim through everyone’s responses, which is much more convenient than sitting in a room while people give updates that aren’t relevant to you.
When you skim responses, if you see something that matters for you, then you can stop, read the whole update, and start a threaded conversation:
Or, if nothing catches your eye, then you’re done with the daily scrum.
Next Steps: Getting Started with Geekbot
Again, Geekbot is completely free for teams of 10 or fewer participants. Otherwise, it’s $2.50 per user per month (if billed annually) and $3.00 per user per month (when billed monthly).
Geekbot integrates easily with your team’s Slack account (and soon Microsoft Teams). You can set up recurring or one-off daily scrums, customizing who is attending and what questions get sent out.
Because Geekbot is asynchronous, it’s quick, non-disruptive, and easy to schedule.
You may also like:
- How to Run a Sprint Retrospective
- The Product Owner vs. the Scrum Master
- The Pros and Cons of Using a Daily Huddle Template
- How Agile Teams Can Optimize their Product Backlog
- 12 Best Scrum Tools for Project Management
- Sprint Planning & 5 Useful Tips on How to Run it
- Agile Management Principles: Epics, User Stories, Themes, Tasks
- Agile vs The Scrum Framework
- Everything You Need to Know About the Daily Standup Meeting
- Scrum Ceremonies and Scrum Artifacts: What Wasn’t in the Scrum Guide
- Product Tour Showcasing Geekbot’s Functionality
Frequently asked questions
Does the daily scrum need to be daily?
Despite its name, the daily scrum doesn’t have to happen daily. It just needs to happen on a schedule that benefits your development team and helps you complete sprints smoothly. For example, as we discussed in a recent case study with GitHub’s Services Programs Team, they hold a daily standup twice a week. Their projects don’t change all that much, which means doing an update every morning would be redundant and inefficient.