How to Run Remote Daily Scrum Meeting Effectively?

・8 min read
How to Run Remote Daily Scrum Meeting Effectively?

5 Key Steps to Run Remote Daily Scrum Meeting Effectively

One of the pillars of agile methodology is a team collocation. It has been proven that teams that work together in the same office report higher effectiveness and better collaboration. At Selleo we are aware of that fact and for years have been focused on building collocated agile teams.

However, sometimes a situation independent from us forces us to work remotely. At this moment it is the coronavirus epidemics which disturbed our best practices which have worked well so far.

Working remotely for some time now we confirm that communication is the key aspect for good and effective collaboration. In this article, you can find some key steps on how to run daily scrum, one of the most important meetings, remotely in an effective way. First of all, let us remind what it is all about.

What is a daily scrum?

A daily scrum meeting or a daily stand-up is a special 15 minute event that helps scrum teams to be more productive and efficient. Scrum master is responsible for arranging the meeting so it is held every day at the same time and place. It is also important to keep the timebox, that is why the core idea of the meeting was to run it standing up - just because it helps to keep it short.

What is the purpose of a daily scrum?

The main idea of the meeting is to spend the dedicated 15 minutes productively by sharing what we have achieved so far and what we plan to do. During the meeting, each team member summarizes what he/she did the previous day, what will be done today, and what obstacles does he/she has to overcome.

The meeting’s goal is to assist the product owner and the scrum team to communicate and deliver a better product.

From our experience, we are convinced that daily scrum is a really important event in the agile approach and can be extremely helpful when run efficiently.

Arranging a 15-minutes meeting is not a unique talent, but the key is to prepare and run a scrum meeting effectively, especially when it is done remotely.

Here we put together some important steps that should be used to run a daily scrum with a remote team to focus your team’s attention and provide the most value for everyone involved.

1. Figure out the best time daily scrum occurs

The first step in organizing an effective scrum meeting remotely is figuring out the logistics. It is important to hold your daily scrum at the same time - in such a way you can really strengthen its ritual power.

From our experience at Selleo, we recommend holding a daily scrum at the start of the day so that everyone has a clear idea of what the day holds. However, if you have your team working in different time zones, it is a good option to choose an hour when the majority of your team is starting their day. This way, team members can get aligned on the most important tasks before they start working.

In fact, the most important is that the hour you pick for the meeting should suit best all the team members. In such a case you can be certain that they will participate in the meeting more willingly and the meeting will be effective.

2. Make sure everyone involved participates

Choosing the best time for everyone is also important for them just to participate in the meeting. Finally, the success of any stand-up meeting depends on team members’ participation. If you can’t get people to be engaged in the meeting, most of the value which scrum meeting brings is lost. At Selleo we are aware that the main goal of daily scrum meeting is to keep everyone involved in the project up to date and engaged. This short meeting has really big power when it comes to keeping everyone in the loop.

If participation from your team is lacking, it is important to understand what is the reason behind it. Are time zone challenges the issue? Are there any misunderstandings due to poor audio connection? Maybe schedules don’t fit everyone?

The power of scrum methodology is the inspect and adapt approach which you can do during every scrum event. But if you would like to discuss the issue more deeply, please use the retrospective meeting to get insights from the team why the participation is lacking.

3. Have a solid audio / video setup

Sometimes the best meeting can be ruined by poor communication related to wrong audio / video setup.

For remote teams, it is absolutely critical for an effective stand-up meeting to have a solid A/V configuration. If you can’t hear or understand your teammates well, you can lose the important details which can have an impact on your later work. It also really frustrating when you spent your meeting time troubleshooting and in fact wasting everyone’s time.

There is a lot of tools which enable you to run a remote meeting, both with audio and video capabilities, but you should always make sure that it works for all team members and everyone can hear and see one another.

4. Keep it short

A stand-up meeting, no matter if you have one week sprint or one month, should always take no longer than 15 minutes. It doesn’t matter if it is held in-person or online. It is important to keep the timeboxing because the goal of the meeting is to synchronize with the team members instead of running long discussions. If the daily scrum runs longer than 15 minutes, you need to take a closer look at the root cause and address it. Please check if your team is well prepared for the meeting, if they update the rest in a clear manner and cut the long discussions. You should also check if your team is not too large. In scrum, an effective team should consist of no more than 9 members.

If something comes up during the scrum meetings, it should be discussed during the separate meeting among people directly involved in that issue. The daily scrum is not the time to dive deep into the planning or technical details of software development. You should only indicate the issue and plan the separate meeting for that, this is sometimes called a sidebar or parking lot. At Selleo, to keep things moving along, scrum master dedicated to the team facilitates the meeting and in such cases keeps an eye on the duration of the meeting and cuts long discussions immediately.

5. Use a standard set of questions

To help keep the scrum meeting both short and effective, you can always use standard questions which are included in the scrum guide. Regardless of whether your team is co-located or working remotely, the best scrum meeting consists of team members answering the consistent questions. This helps them prepare as they know in advance what information they are expected to share during the meeting. Those questions are as follows:

What did I do yesterday?

This easy question help team members share what they accomplished since the previous scrum meeting. It is important that updates focus on deliverables allowing the entire team to understand what work has been done. The team member should also emphasize how the work is done, which helps the team get closer to the sprint goal.

What are my plans for today?

This question is focused on the plan for the upcoming day until the next scrum meeting will be held. Team members should say what they are going to do to help the whole team understand which tasks remain. When answering the question, it is also important to keep the goal of the sprint in mind, so that the team members don’t go off the track.

Are there any obstacles?

This question is probably the most critical one. If something is blocking the progress, you should know it asap. Team members should share anything that blocks them from getting the job to be done. Unresolved impediments can be extremely harmful to your team’s velocity and overall project success.

But again, it is important to answer these questions in a timely manner and clear for all team members. People should avoid technical details, not focus on the implementation of the task, but only share the status of their work. As mentioned earlier, deeper discussions should be run during a separate meeting with the people involved.

Closing thoughts

While no one knows how long the COVID-19 epidemics will last, it seems that many of us will be working remotely for at least a couple of weeks. The daily scrum is a valuable time that should be treated as a collaborative effort for the whole team to keep remote teams functioning effectively.

Try not to think about the scrum meeting as strict rules but more as a way to maximize productivity. Then you will see that it is an effective tool for your development team, especially when they are distributed.

Are you looking for an experienced scrum master to facilitate your meetings? Or a fully-fledged team of development specialists to build your next product? Meet Selleo engineers!

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