Daily Scrum

The heart of each Sprint is the Daily Scrum, also known as Stand-up. This 15-minute time-boxed meeting is designed for the Development Team. Its primary goal is to synchronise the team’s effort towards achieving the Sprint Goal.

Every day the Development Team should meet to check if plan created during the Sprint Planning and updated throughout the Sprint is still achievable. If not, the team should adjust it.

As this is a meeting designed for the Development Team the required participants are only all members of the Development Team. Scrum Master and Product Owner are not needed there. However, it doesn’t mean they cannot take part in it. Moreover, there are some situations in which the Scrum Master and/or Product Owner might help.

The Scrum Master can be helpful in a case when the team faces some organizational obstacles. And the Product Owner can provide some missing information or guidance on how to tackle some business problem the team is facing.

In spite of the fact that Scrum Master’s presence is not required during Daily Scrum, he is accountable for Stand-up taking place every day. It’s also up to Scrum Master to coach the team what Daily Scrum is all about, what is the goal of this meeting and what are the expected results.

So what Daily Scrum is about?

3 magic questions

First of all, Daily Scrum is no about reporting progress to any of the Scrum Master nor Product Owner. Both of them should be informed about the progress of the Sprint’s work but it does not have to be during that meeting.

As this meeting is not about reporting, it is not enough that everyone participating at Daily Scrum will answer those “3 magic questions”:

  • What have you completed since the last meeting?
  • What do you plan to complete by the next meeting?
  • What is getting in your way?

Please don’t get me wrong. Those question can be answered and it can be very helpful. However, the most important is the communication and team synchronization towards Sprint Goal (regardless of its definition). So, the most important are the things we can get from those answers.

Let’s consider following dialog, Daily Scrum conversation:

I have finished working on a submission form. It’s ready from the fronted side. We still missing error warning and I’ll be working on them today. It’ll be easier for me to test warnings if there is a real response from the backend.

Person A

I’ve created a database structure for the form. I’ve planned to work on the navigation to that form. However, I can work on that later and now I can do the backend so once you are done with your task you’ll be able to test it.

Person B

In this simple conversation, we have answers for all “3 magic questions” (we can suspect that Person B has no potential blockers as it has not been mentioned). However, we can also see communication, cooperation and compassion. Person B is able to do one of the tasks “navigation to the form” or “backend for the form”. This person even planned to the first one next but he heard that missing backend can block Person A. So the plan has been updated taking into consideration the potential obstacle of the other person.

Impediments

Daily Scrum is attended by the whole Development Team so everyone is updated what’s happening and there is a shared understanding of the progress. It doesn’t mean that the whole team should be involved in resolving all the problems the team have. The team should be aware of them (that’s why it should be raised during the Daily Scrum) and we all might decide who should tackle them – but that’s it for Daily Scrum. Those impediments should be resolved after Daily Scrum and update should be shared on the next one (or earlier if necessary).

Big picture

Daily Scrum should help to resolve current problems. Unfortunately, problems of today are not the only problems the Development Team need to face. Usually, the team in Sprint Backlog has more items then ones currently in progress. Therefore, the team should review not only the plan to deliver open items but also those not started yet. The Daily Scrum is a time to see if what was done till now has any impact on the remaining items. And if there is any risk for the Sprint Goal plan created during Sprint Planning should be revisited.

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst

In most of the cases, the Development Team is not building things for themself. Usual it is someone else. Usual it is someone represented by Product Owner. So if during Daily Scrum the team will see that achieving Sprint Goal is impossible or even see the risk it won’t be achieved, then Product Owner and Scrum Master should be informed (especially if they were not present at the meeting). There are several ways it can be addressed, but please remember, sooner we know it’s easier to deal with it.

Parking Lot

Most of the time when two or more people are talking about something (in case of Daily Scrum it would be “What we have to do to achieve our Sprint Goal”) some less irrelevant topics will rais up. To make Daily Scrum smooth, fast (as it was intended) and wasteless the Development Team and every participant should stay focus and put those irrelevant topics into Parking Lot – the team can deal with that after Daily Scrum is done.

Final notes

There is a good practice to held Daily Scrum in the same place at the same time every time (if possible). The reason for that is to make a habit for the team, a routine – something they don’t have to think about.

A common name for the Daily Scrum is a Stand-up. However, it does not means everyone needs to stand. It has been proposed that way as a human-beings have this tendency prolonging conversation while being in a comfortable position (apparently sitting is more comfortable than standing). So if the team can keep up focus and do standup under 15 mins there is no reason for no siting at that meeting.

…and this is what Daily Scrum is all about. Simple, isn’t it?