How to prepare for a daily standup

The daily standup has become a routine in the lives of many people in software development.

78% of all agile teams hold daily standups, according to the 2011 State of Agile Development Survey from VersionOne.

Each day, at a specific time, teams gather around the task board and plan their next actions.  Although this practice has been around for many years, it still feels awkward to some extent.  Especially for the Scrum Master and Product Owner.

Should we also explain what we have done and are planning to do next? Won’t this bore the team? Do I just stand there, and listen?

I’ve been in both roles before and will explain how I took part in the daily standup.

As a Scrum Master

… I always prepare myself for 5 minutes before the daily standup.

  • What have I done that is useful information for the team?
  • What am I planning to do that is useful for the team to know?
  • What does the task board look like? Any bottlenecks appearing?
  • Are there any tasks that are left aside? How can I help to get those moving?
  • Any user stories coming up that need special attention?
  • How are we respecting quality?
  • Is the preparation of the next sprint coming along? Does the Product Owner need any help?
  • ….

As a Scrum Master you will always have something useful to say. It can be related to your role, but in many cases you will share an observation about the process.  In the end, that’s your job.  Helping the team to use the process in their advantage and deliver succesful sprints.

As a Product Owner

… I also prepare myself before the daily standup.

  • Do I have any additional information that is applicable to the current sprint?
  • What kind of features am I preparing for next sprint? For which ones would I like feedback from the team (outside of the daily standup)?
  • Any feedback of the stakeholders that’s interesting for the team?
  • Is the team respecting the user story prioritization? If not, I explain why it’s important to me.
  • Am I out of the office? If so, I explain when and how the team can contact me.
  • Are there any user stories I can already review? Ask for help.

As a Product Owner you will always have something interesting to share about the features. Those in the sprint, or those you are preparing for the next one.  Remember that you are the Single Point of Contact for the team, and most of the feedback they hear from the stakeholders is through you.  So share as much as possible.

I’ve noticed that as a Scrum Master or Product Owner, you can also bring a lot of added value during the daily standup.  It shouldn’t only be the developers talking.

About Nick Oostvogels

Hi, I'm an independent management consultant. My biggest strengths are located in the fields of teamwork, motivation, leadership and continuous improvement. In the IT industry you find a lot of these values in the agile movement, in which I often act as a project leader, product owner or coach. My interests go a lot further, into other industries where we find these values in lean production. Besides that, I try to broaden my horizon as much as possible, always looking for better ways of doing business.

4 comments

  1. @Stiby

    Scrum daily stand-up done right advocates the idea of individuals and interaction over processes and tools.
    A sprint done right advocates working software over documentation.

    During the sprint your teams primary and only focus is delivering on the commitment they made in the sprint planning session and the scrum master is there to protect the team from distraction and keep that focus.

    What you write here brings distraction, context switching which breaks the team flow and impacts there velocity.

    The stand-up should be each committed member (the pigs) saying what they did yesterday, what they are doing today and what blockers they have and observers and non committed members (the chickens) answering the teams questions.

    The scrum master is the facilitator of the meeting and should take the blockers and update the team on blocker resolutions as well as keep the teams focus and nurture the team by dealing with conflict etc.

    The product owner is there to see how the features are coming along, answer questions and provide advise.

    Now regarding about future features/stories these have to be left to the planning session, and as for maintaining quality this is a retrospective item.

    • Thanks for your reply.
      In my opinion, the information coming from the Scrum Master and Product Owner doesn’t cause distraction, it increases focus.
      I refuse to use the chicken & pig analogy, since I believe it is denigrating for many people involved in the project.
      Whoever can help the team to move forward as a whole, is welcome to share. Here lies an important responsibility for the Scrum Master.
      The reason to hold a daily standup is to re-plan on a daily basis. If you don’t address quality or process issues until the next retrospective, on average the team loses a week to do something about it. Change & adapt, right?
      If we would drive an entire sprint with blinkers, aren’t we too focused on the short term?

  2. Pingback: agile project manager

  3. Reblogged this on Stu Gomersall and commented:
    SM and PO guidance for the stand-upv:)

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