Why GitHub’s Services Programs team prefers Slack-based standups

"I manage a remote team of seven distributed across several timezones. I was struggling to find a smart way to keep standups effective yet concise. That was, until I introduced my team to Geekbot."

Briana Swift, Senior Manager, Services Programs team

Over 50 million developers use GitHub to review code, manage projects, and build software. Geekbot sat down with Briana Swift, GitHub’s Senior Manager of the Services Programs team, to hear how she uses Geekbot to run more effective, more concise asynchronous standups.

The Services Programs team at GitHub used to hold twice-weekly standups using Zoom. But due to the timezone differences between the seven teammates, team manager Briana found it near-impossible to find a time that worked for everyone.

She also felt video-conferencing wasn’t right for the meeting format, so she went in search of a better solution. That’s when Briana found Geekbot.

She was instantly enamored by the prospect of asynchronous standups. And the thought of typing answers — then, skimming teammates’ text-based responses — sounded like a much more effective way to work.

Now GitHub’s Services Programs team runs all their asynchronous standup meetings in Slack.

Why standups in Slack make sense for GitHub’s Services Programs team

Beyond the added flexibility, everyone feels Geekbot is a more effective medium for standups than Zoom.

The team loves the fact they can quickly type out their answers and view others’ responses — all in Slack, at any point in the day. And they appreciate they no longer have to drop everything, just to attend a status update.

Add in the benefit of being able to ignore less relevant updates: and team members lose no time listening to issues that don’t concern them.

How Geekbot fits into GitHub’s Services Programs team workflows

From the outset, the Services Programs team didn’t want to hold standups every day. Unlike other departments, their projects don’t change that often, and the team didn’t want to have to retype the same update every day.

Geekbot lets the team avoid any duplicated effort because Briana can configure the bot to share standup questions in Slack on specific days at a preferred time (even switching days and times in different weeks), ensuring no-one ever has to repeat themselves.

Briana configured Geekbot to ask two simple questions. Each teammate then just needs to find a few minutes in their day to share responses, which Geekbot automatically posts to a dedicated Slack channel.

Now, by the end of every Monday, everyone has posted their answers and read those of others, meaning the team’s on the same page — while if there’s a blocker that someone needs help with, the necessary teammates have the full context.

Briana also gets Geekbot to repeat the exercise at the end of each week. She uses the same two-question format, enabling the whole team to share progress and plans.

This means that, every Friday, an ‘end-of-week check-in’ helps everyone share an update while items are still fresh-in-the-mind — instead of arriving on a Monday and having to think back to what they were working on last week.

The team saves time while staying up-to-date

Using just two asynchronous Slack-based questions, arriving each Monday and Friday, Briana’s team now gets in-sync: all without wasting seven people’s time in a thirty-minute, Zoom-based status update.

And thanks to the text-based answers, team members can think about their responses at their own pace before broadcasting them — and start side-discussions in a Slack thread if needed, instead of discussing items during the standup itself.

Key Takeaways:

  • Standups don’t have to run daily if twice-weekly better suits your team
  • Asynchronous standups help people avoid wasting one another’s time
  • Text-based answers give people space to think and skim-read
  • Tools like Geekbot can be precision-fitted to every workflow