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Making Daily Scrum Meetings Really Effective & Efficient (Part 3 of 5)
Earlier I outlined the 6 steps to a more effective, more efficient standup and gave an example of how to present individual progress in the format of: “DONE/NOT DONE, and WORK PLAN until the next Scrum meeting.
There are several advantages of this process in terms of improving effectiveness as well as efficiency of daily Scrums:
- Information is very specific and tied to stories and tasks in the agile project management tool being used. This level of specific planning requires preparation ahead of the daily Scrum meeting, and cannot/should not be done impromptu at the meeting. It does take about 10 minutes of serious thinking and planning each day to consider the specific time available, decide the most important tasks to do until the next daily Scrum that will contribute to team’s goals and success, and to determine which tasks are feasible to do — given the information known and any task dependencies.
- It promotes the very desirable practice of working primarily on planned tasks for a sprint in the next 24-hour daily Scrum cycle, and flags any unplanned tasks or stories that may come up once a sprint has started. Keeping a record of unplanned work is very useful at the end of a sprint during Sprint Retrospective.
- Because of tasks that are DONE are not mentioned or discussed, you save valuable meeting time.
- If a task is NOT DONE, each member is asked to state the reason, along with a plan when the task will be completed. No member wants to see many daily tasks marked as NOT DONE and share that information in front of peer team members. It reinforces accountability of each team member to others on the team. I have seen this concept change the behavior of team members in a positive way that is helpful to a team’s success.
- The presenter needs to focus ONLY on the delta or variation from his previous day’s planned effort by simply recording a DONE or NOT DONE status against the planned work presented on the previous days. If all tasks are DONE as planned, all those tasks will have DONE statuses… and no time will need to be spent mentioning or discussing any of that information.
- When information is very specific and presented in a concise manner, it helps engage all team members who can point out any priorities, conflicts, constraints or dependencies not considered by the presenter. This allows the presenter to revise his/her plan for the day as necessary.
- In addition, I encourage each team member to present his/her needs (if any, such as help on design, code review or advice from peers). Other members may give their commitments immediately at the meeting, or they may take the issue offline for further discussion and resolution. This is how team members communicate their needs from other members and make commitments to each other to help the team succeed.
- In my experience, each member can present and communicate all the above information in about 2 minutes on average. An additional 5 minutes are needed for the ScrumMaster to show team-level burn-charts, cumulative flow and Kanban boards while capturing key issues. This is the basis of the “2n+5” minutes of meeting time rule stated earlier in Part 1 of this series.
To facilitate this kind of concise and efficient reporting, I have created a Daily_Journal template, which is a simple spreadsheet file. This same template is also used to capture the items on which a person may need help from his/her team members, as well as his/her ongoing observations of whether things are working or not working during a sprint. The team member can later bring up these items for discussion during the Sprint Retrospective meeting.
In Part 4 of this blog series I will go into more detail about the benefits of using this template, and conclude with a few more practical tips on getting your Scrum team into the High-Effectiveness, High-Efficiency corner of the Daily Scrum quadrant.
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