MeetingsDaily Stand-up Meetings for Dev Teams: The Ultimate Guide

Madelene Bernard · 2022-07-12

Software engineering teams are no strangers to the daily stand-up meetings, a.k.a., the daily scrum meetings. The stand-up meeting enables dev teams to align with project and business goals, share progress, maintain accountability, and resolve blockers and challenges in an agile manner. 

Whether you’re a seasoned expert at standups or relatively new to the game, this guide will help you gain an in-depth understanding of stand up meetings and provide actionable tips on how to run excellent standups. 

What is the Daily Standup Meeting?

The stand up meeting is a concise, nevertheless, informative meeting in which team members share updates about their progress in their tasks and discuss blockers, if any. It also allows the team leader to set the objectives for the team and ensure alignment.

What is the purpose of Standup Meetings?

Software development teams use the stand up meeting to drive focus on blockers, if any, that are hindering progress so that the team can plan strategies to overcome them. The team collaborates and calibrates by discussing progress, game-plan, and bottlenecks to ensure successful delivery. Essentially, the standup meetings aids in team cooperation and communication, keeps the team in the loop of progress made, and provides guidance and solutions when needed. 

Why use the 3-question format of daily stand-up meetings?

The Scrum guide suggests that the format for any daily stand-up meeting should answer the questions:

  1. What did you accomplish yesterday?
  2. What are you working on today?
  3. Are there any blockers in your way?

The first two questions, when answered comprehensively by team members, provide visibility into each teammate’s progress on assigned tasks. This can help managers recognize and duly credit team members’ contributions and efforts. It also helps managers and leaders to stay in the loop of the activities and efforts that their team undertakes, providing a viewpoint to progress made in the development lifecycle.

The third question that brings blockers to light helps managers identify obstacles and challenges, a.k.a., blockers that might be hindering the team member’s successful completion of the task. Gaining visibility into progress and roadblocks can help managers coordinate efforts to resolve blockers and complete sprints successfully.

The common pitfalls of standup meetings and how to manage them:

Even tried and tested processes can be subject to snags. Here are the most common pitfalls to watch for while running daily stand-ups:

Hurried responses 

Dev team standups are an essential tool to ensure that the team is progressing towards successfully completing sprints and project roadmap milestones. When the stand up is treated as just a check-in call without providing detailed inputs into their task status, difficulties and expected timelines of completion, dev managers lose the opportunity to course-correct, modify, or calibrate project roadmaps. 

Dev teams should take their time in thinking about their activities and efforts and also any blockers they might need help on. They should retrospect on their contributions and anticipate potential blockers to provide in-depth updates that not only help keep the entire team in the loop of events, but also provide valuable insight into potential risks or challenges. 

Lack of data-driven discussions

When developers provide only anecdotal updates without a data perspective into their efforts and blockers, it can derail the optimization of team roadmaps and resources.

Team collaborating

Software engineering teams can use the data from their teammates' standups alongside larger project data to get a holistic view of the team’s and project’s status. It can paint a picture of how the team is aligned to not just succeeding at a given project but it also helps gain insight into the team’s efforts that contribute to larger organizational goals. In addition to this, data about goal alignment, team member well-being, and team cohesion metrics can help dev teams to communicate, calibrate, and steer contributions towards intended goals.

Inconvenient meeting times

Apart from keeping the meeting duration consistent, managers should also ensure the stand-up meeting is carried out at a time that is convenient for everyone involved. Since most software engineering teams are distributed, this might be a challenge for dev managers. 

Unequal participation

There is a chance that some members shy away from sharing information during the meeting for many reasons. Conducting stand-ups daily helps managers identify the individuals who regularly avoid focus. This can help managers devise strategies to improve team participation and to encourage the teammates to step forward and share information.

Not raising blockers at all

Some participants may only answer the first two questions in the stand-up meeting agenda and skip the part where they share the challenges faced entirely. Managers should stay in the loop of the reported blockers that their teammates face and corroborate this with their team’s metrics such as activity reports, cycle time, code churn rate, and other metrics to anticipate roadblocks and challenges and to preempt them.

Lengthy discussions

As with any meeting, a stand-up also requires strict adherence to the meeting agenda - of answering the three questions within a reasonable time frame.Digressions and lengthy discussions can lead to prolonged meetings that are counterintuitive to the timeboxed nature of this meeting. Any other follow-up discussions that require more time should be dealt with after the stand-up involving only the relevant stakeholders. 

A productive daily stand-up should focus on solving teammates’ blockers. So, if a team member raises a blocker, they should be encouraged to share the issue in detail so the others can collectively provide solutions to unblock it. 

Lack of documentation of meeting outcomes 

The traditional standup meeting doesn’t mandate note keeping meeting minutes. Thus, when participants raise blockers or even bring up achievements and contributions, the risk of losing attention and following up on these issues is quite high. Dev teams must prioritize documentation of points raised in standups to ensure credibility, accountability, to prevent repetition of blockers in the future, and to plan for risk mitigation. 

What are asynchronous standup meetings?

Hatica Check-ins on web and Slack

Asynchronous standups are an essential component of the asynchronous work model. In async work, individual tasks are completed without real time collaboration. Similarly, in async stand up meetings, participants are able to provide their stand-up updates at a time that is most convenient to them, when they have taken stock of their activities and contributions and have fully understood and are able to anticipate any blockers. 

The async stand up allows developers to provide a well-thought out update when they are ready and primed to do so. 

Why are asynchronous stand-ups better?

The async work model enables people to work at a time that they feel most productive at and therefore enhances the productivity of the entire team and promotes better work-life balance. As an extension, the async standup also brings the same benefits to teams, wherein it is able to provide teammates with the flexibility to check-in when they feel most primed with meaningful inputs to their updates.  

  • Preserves maker time
    Async stand ups enables developers to take control of their time and manage their schedules to allocate uninterrupted focus time, a.k.a., makers’ time that can enhance their performance, productivity, and well-being without being pulled into meetings run at a centralized time or location. 
  • Repository of Communication 
    Async updates removes the risk of information loss and leakage that happens during conventional stand-ups. Async standup meetings eliminate this by preserving threads of all the updates and information that is shared by teammates for easy reference anytime. 
  • Preservation of focus time 
    Async mode of daily stand-up is the minimally disruptive version that rarely to almost never affects the focus time of the employees.
  • Better quality of meetings
    Since the async stand up can be provided at a time best suited for each individual, team mates provide well-thought out and necessary information in these meetings. This limits the chances for tangential discussions and does not waste participants’ time and attention. Since the updates are given in a pre-formatted questionnaire, the agenda of the meeting is almost always followed. 
  • Data perspective of updates
    When async stands ups are used along with team analytics and project analytics, it can provide managers and leaders with a birds-eye view of the health, performance, and direction of their team’s efforts. This can greatly help in optimizing decision-making,   
Stay in sync

What tools can I use to run an effective daily standup meeting?

From our research, collaborating with 100s of dev teams, we see that as teams increasingly begin adopting the async stand-up meeting, they experiment with communication tools that are already at their disposal. 

For most dev teams, this is a combination of Zoom or Loom videos and Slack. We also see teams making use of Google Meet, Microsft teams among other digital workplace products. 

Most dev teams adopt dedicated tools to run their daily stand-ups. There are several standup tools in the market that help teams to run seamless stand up meetings. However, the majority of these tools do not offer cross-tool integrations to provide a holistic and comprehensive team management solution. 

Products like Check-Ins from Hatica, on the other hand, helps organizations host async daily stand-ups with hassle-free set up, intuitive and timezone-sensitive scheduling that helps preserve focus time. Hatica's highly customizable Check-ins with options to modify questions, define check-in times, pre-approved submitters, and assign viewers enables employees to register updates with minimal effort and record all their updates providing visibility and traceability of progress. 

The smart integrations with Slack, Microsoft Teams, and emails facilitate automated progress updates with quick information sharing. Users’ updates are also juxtaposed with their work activity and team activity metrics using integrations with tools like Github, Gitlab, Jira, Notion, PagerDuty, OpsGenie, etc.. This enables team leaders to stay on top of progress with activity dashboards enriched with data. 

💡Interested in exploring async stand-ups with Hatica? Try Check-Ins, for free

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Table of Contents
  • What is the Daily Standup Meeting?
  • What is the purpose of Standup Meetings?
  • Why use the 3-question format of daily stand-up meetings?
  • The common pitfalls of standup meetings and how to manage them:
  • What are asynchronous standup meetings?
  • Why are asynchronous stand-ups better?
  • What tools can I use to run an effective daily standup meeting?