How to Use Microsoft Teams for Scrum (In-Depth Look)

Synchronous meetings are often too long, disruptive, and difficult to schedule. By switching to asynchronous Scrum meetings using Microsoft Teams, you get clear benefits, such as:

  • Minimizing workflow disruption: Synchronous meetings have to happen at a set time, which means they can take you out of whatever task you’re working on. Conversely, asynchronous meetings let each participant engage in the meeting when it’s most practical for them.
  • Eliminating scheduling conflicts: Due to different time zones and busy calendars, synchronous meetings can be difficult to schedule. Asynchronous meetings completely eradicate this problem as participants partake in the meeting at a time when it’s convenient for them.
  • Shorter meetings: Synchronous meetings can quickly get bloated with side conversations and participants derailing the agenda. Synchronous meetings solve this problem by providing clear templates for participants to follow and cutting down on any unnecessary conversation. 
  • Meetings that are relevant to your day: Have you ever gone to a meeting and spoke for five minutes but then had to sit for an hour while other people talked about work items that had nothing to do with your part of the sprint? In asynchronous meetings, you get what’s important to your day, and don’t have to sit through updates that aren’t relevant to your task list.

In essence, synchronous meetings can sometimes feel like a waste of time to those who show up, and there’s a good reason why so many teams dislike standups and other types of Scrum ceremonies. But an asynchronous meeting format is quicker and less disruptive, and  your team is more likely to enjoy and get value from it. 

The question is, how can you effectively run asynchronous Scrum meetings using Microsoft Teams? 

We’ll cover that in this post, specifically how you can use Geekbot (our product) to run asynchronous…   

Note: Since 2015, Geekbot has helped over 120,000 users run faster and less disruptive Scrum ceremonies in Slack. And due to popular demand, we’ve now released a Microsoft Teams integration! Click here to learn more and sign up for free.

How to Run Daily Standups in Microsoft Teams

With Geekbot, you can send out the daily standup questions, collect responses, share them in a public channel, and facilitate conversation focused on solving daily blockers — all in Microsoft Teams.

The first step is to schedule when the daily standup questions get sent out, and with Geekbot, you can pick what days (and at what frequency) you want the standup to go out to your team.

Period and Days: Schedule which days you'd like to send out the standup.

For frequency, you can pick from:

  • Every Week
  • Every Two Weeks
  • Every Three Weeks
  • Every Four Weeks
  • First Week of the Month
  • Last Week of the Month

Feature that’s coming soon: Tell Geekbot to factor in the user’s local timezone

If you have a team that’s split across Western Europe and the Western United States, and you tell Geekbot to send out the daily standup prompt at 9 a.m., then everyone will get the notification that it’s time to fill out their responses at 9 a.m. their time. 

This helps avoid instances where co-workers get a notification to fill out their standup at 1AM (or another inconvenient time).

Time and Timezone: Send out standups at a user's local timezone.

Once your daily standup is scheduled, Geekbot takes over. 

At the scheduled time, Geekbot will message your team individually and ask them to fill out their responses to the daily standup questions. 

You can sync your daily standup to a specific Microsoft Teams channel and Geekbot will send the questions to everyone who is part of that channel, or you can manually tell Geekbot who you want to get the standup questions.

In the image below, you can see Geekbot messaging Kate and asking her the daily standup questions.

Geekbot and Microsoft Teams integration: Daily Standup

Notice that Geekbot also asks Kate, “How do you feel today?”

(That’s not one of the traditional daily standup questions, but we recommend including it because it lets Geekbot keep an eye on your team’s well-being. We will cover this in more detail in the section below, but for now it’s important to know you can edit and add or remove any questions as needed to customize your standup to your needs.)

But what if Kate forgets to complete the questions? 

Geekbot can optionally send out reminders, such as following up with a participant after 30 minutes, one hour, two hours, and so on:

Personal reminders: Customize the way you get reminders.

Once Kate does respond, her answers are shared in a public Microsoft Teams channel. 

(Though you can customize Geekbot in many ways, including making responses go out to a private channel). 

Geekbot and Microsoft Teams integration: Daily Updates

You can see in the image below that Kate mentioned her co-worker Brandon when discussing items that were blocking her progress. This notifies Brandon, who can now create a thread by replying to Kate’s update:

Geekbot and Microsoft Teams integration: Threaded Conversations

This gives Brandon and Kate the time and opportunity to solve Kate’s blocker, without clogging up the entire channel with their conversation.

And just like that, you’ve run a successful, efficient asynchronous daily standup in Microsoft Teams. 

Geekbot offers more features — such as getting your team’s responses as an email summary and providing access to a dashboard that lets you quickly view important metrics (like how much of your team is participating in the standup) — which we cover in detail at the end of this article.

But first, let’s look at how you can use Geekbot to run retrospectives in Microsoft Teams.

How to Run Daily Retrospectives

You can schedule daily retrospectives using the same tools we discussed above in scheduling a daily stand up.

Geekbot's Retrospective Schedule

This means setting specific frequencies or days, adding participants by channel or manually (one by one), and editing any questions. 

And, of course, Geekbot can take your team’s timezone into consideration when it sends out the retrospective questions.

Geekbot's Microsoft Teams Retrospective Check In

Once your team’s responses are collected, Geekbot shares them in the appropriate channel.

Geekbot's Microsoft Teams Daily Update

A major benefit of using Geekbot to run asynchronous retrospectives is that it makes it easier to run tiered retrospectives.

We first learned about tiered retrospectives from one of our clients — Danny Varner, the Director of Engineering at Vacasa. 

Danny talked with us about how the retrospective can be broken down into 5 stages:

  1. Set the Stage
  2. Gather Data
  3. Generate Insights 
  4. Decide next steps
  5. Close the retrospective

These are established stages taken from the book Agile Retrospectives, but what Danny noticed was that each stage builds off the previous stage. It’s then that he realized by running tiered retrospectives asynchronously he could give his team more time to generate insights and decide next steps. 

If you’re curious about running tiered retrospectives, we encourage you to learn more in our blog post about asynchronous remote retrospectives where we interviewed Danny Varner about the exact process he uses, and how it can help your Scrum team. 

Other Types of Meetings

Geekbot isn’t limited to daily standups and retrospectives. You can create any set of questions and send them out to your team on a schedule you set. 

Select a Template in Geekbot: Retrospectives

For example, if you want insight into how your team currently views company culture, you can create questions around job satisfaction, opportunities for career growth, and then send the survey out. The responses are collected and don’t have to be shared in a public channel if you want to keep them private. 

We also have unique custom templates that help you out, such as:

  • Pizza Toppings: More than just pizza toppings! This template helps your team bond over fun, randomly generated questions, such as “What’s your favorite hobby?”, “What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?”, and the list goes on. Team members can see each other’s responses, find commonalities (i.e. “We both love video games!”) and form strong personal connections that make work more enjoyable.
  • Friday screenshot: Make Friday a day worth looking forward to by celebrating the last day of the work week with photos from your team.
  • Meeting Notes: A run on demand report that helps you sum up the contents of a meeting for others to access. 
  • And much more! 

Geekbot’s Bonus Features 

Another benefit to using Geekbot is our analytics dashboard. Here you can quickly get insights that help you better manage your Scrum team.

Geekbot and Microsoft Teams: Insights and Analytics

On the right hand side, your team can see the participation percentage. And if one week your participation rate plummets, you can quickly get a jump start on figuring out the “why” and fixing the issue before it gets worse.

Per the above screenshot, you can also gamify the process via insights such as “Report streak” (see who submitted the most consecutive reports),“rebounding” (when a team member posts an update after a lengthy absence) or any “highlighted report” (a report that is getting significant attention from the rest of the team).

Monitoring Team Morale

Earlier, we talked about adding the question, “How do you feel today?” to your meetings. 

This helps you keep your fingertips on the pulse of your team’s culture and happiness. In addition, your team’s answers are turned into quantifiable metrics and presented in a Team Happiness graph: 

Team Happiness Analytics and Insights

So within one graph, you can see how many of your team members are “happy”, “unhappy”, “neutral”, and what percentage of your team are participating in your meetings.

If you notice a downward trend of happiness, you can dig deeper into their responses and find out what is causing the dissatisfaction and plan next steps (such as meeting with them one-on-one). 

Final Thoughts

Your Scrum team can use Geekbot to facilitate better, asynchronous meetings within Microsoft Teams. These meetings (which consist of daily scrums, sprint retrospectives, and whatever other kind of meeting you need) help keep your sprint on track, and also help improve productivity and workplace performance. 

If you want to see how Geekbot works with your MS Teams account, click here to get started for free.

Frequently asked questions

Can You Use Microsoft Teams for Scrum?

Microsoft Teams is a business communication platform (for both collocated and remote teams) that can be used for Scrum meetings.
     
To get the most out of Microsoft Teams, we recommend you use an asynchronous meeting bot like Geekbot.
     
Geekbot lets you schedule and send out daily standup and retrospective questions to your team. Your development team can answer when it’s convenient for them, which cuts down on workflow interruption.
     
Since the meetings are asynchronous, there are no scheduling conflicts.

Can You Use Microsoft Teams to Manage Your Product Backlog?

When managing backlog items, such as refining your sprint backlog to make sure your team has the right tasks in queue for a successful sprint, it’s easy to get disorganized. And sometimes, the issue is transparency.
     
For example, the product owner may have a perfectly reasonable and strategic sprint backlog but it’s ineffective because it’s not easy for their development team to reference the backlog items.
     
You can use Microsoft Teams to help you manage your Scrum project by utilizing different tools, such as Azure DevOps or even integrations with GitLab or Jira.

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