What is a standup meeting?

What is a stand up meeting in scrum ceremonies? Know how to build the right daily stand up meeting template, and the Scrum Slack tools & techniques to use.

Posted by Anubhav De on 23 Mar 2022
What is a standup meeting?

Do you feel that spending too much time on meetings is limiting you from making an impact at work? Well, if you do then you're not alone. A UK based Study showed that 67% of the professionals felt that spending too much time in meetings can distract them from making an impact at work.

And, these bad meetings are not just affecting you as a professional, but also your entire company. More than 37% of professionals believe that bad meetings are the biggest cost to their organization.

This is because professionals spend, on average, 2 hours a week in pointless meetings. Which will add up to over $541 billion worth of resources, in a year.

So how to avoid this bad meeting cycle? The best solution is to have a strong daily stand up meeting agenda.

The idea of stand up meetings

Daily stand ups are daily short meetings to share updates on task progress within a team. Traditionally, every team member reports his/her work progress, the minutes of the meeting are iterated, and the details are later evaluated and analyzed for management insights.

An effective stand up meeting is short, but addresses all necessary and possibly topics that could bring down the need for further meetings throughout the day. Generally, stand up meetings will address tasks completed, task-related doubts, and workflow obstacles.

However, an effective stand up meeting agenda can also question preferred approaches and task direction–to ensure no repetitive meetings are required for the rest of the day.

Stand up meetings in practice

Stand up meetings are daily short meetings. In theory, stand ups address–on a daily basis–the development progress and challenges faced. And, if needed, suggest workflow improvisations accordingly.

In practice, a traditional standup meeting format iterates–the tasks completed on the previous day, the challenges faced, and the tasks scheduled for the current day.

The daily Stand up meeting agenda is to let you tackle your workflow and related issues–one day at a time. With stand up meetings, you can quickly implement ideas, without wasting much time foolproofing the idea. Because regular investigation will always give you the opportunity to weed out the impediments at first sight.

Why do you need Stand up meetings?

Now it's not like a development process cannot run without daily stand up meetings, and you will surely find successful businesses that are doing quite well without stand up meetings. However, companies that do maintain a proper daily stand up meeting agenda – do so for the following benefits:

  • Stand ups give you a daily opportunity to implement sprint changes if needed.
  • Stand ups can help you nip workflow obstacles in the bud.
  • Stand ups can help you manage your project time.
  • Stand ups can help you keep track of task progress, and eventually improve task completion rate.
  • Stand ups can give you a better idea of employee performance.
  • If details of daily stand ups are appropriately stored and organized, they can be used for sprint planning, review, and retrospective.

So if you think these benefits will be helpful to your workflow and productivity, then you probably need to build yourself a daily stand up meeting template.

How to plan your Stand up meetings?

The whole purpose of planning a relevant daily standup meeting format is to maintain effectiveness. A major challenge of conducting stand up meetings is to keep it short while addressing all major issues–as both the purposes contradict each other. This is why to set up an effective daily stand up meeting template, you will need sufficient planning.

Things to consider when planning for your standups:

  • Plan for the shortest, and most effortless, meeting possible.
  • The daily stand up meeting template should engage your employees such–in form and nature–that the meeting details can be iterated.
  • Never settle for one final daily standup meeting format. Evaluate the effectiveness of your daily stand up meeting template every once in a while, and update accordingly.
  • Your Stand-up meeting questions must never fail to address task updates/progress.
  • Your daily stand up meeting agenda should take into account your team's mood or morale.
  • Never fail to address obstacles and industry-specific issues.
  • Keep your daily stand ups transparent to keep your team in proper sync.
  • Take feedback from your employees, and accordingly plan your daily standup meeting format.
  • The daily standup meeting format planning should be a collective effort between the product owner, scrum master, and HR manager.
  • Iterate planning details, so the daily stand up meeting agenda can be easily improved and updated in the future.
  • Your daily stand up meeting template should always strike a balance between improving productivity and benefiting employee convenience.

Effective techniques for conducting stand up meetings.

Your daily stand up meeting agenda will be only as effective as the techniques you use. Thus when building your daily standup meeting format and writing the daily stand-up meeting questions you must ensure to employ the best tools and techniques at your disposal.

1. Use standup automation tools.

This technique will give you two major indirect benefits. One, the scrum master will have more time to focus on other tasks. And, two, the meeting details will be easily stored as data, and compiled into reports for review.

2. Survey-based digital questionnaires

Traditionally stand up meetings were quick standing meetings where teams discussed their activity schedule. In a digital space, Audio/Video conferences are apparent choices. However, survey-based questionnaires are a better alternative. In this scenario, you will write up multiple daily stand-up meeting questions addressing different workflow issues. And, your employees will simply respond to the survey. This way you get all the information needed, in an easy iterative format. And, the meeting becomes short and painless for your employees.

3. Focus heavily on iteration.

Iteration is possibly the most central actionable fundamental in all of Agile principles and Scrum ceremonies. Iteration is what makes Agile methodology agile. Iterations are easy to archive, organize, and manage. And whenever necessary, easily edited and updated. Thus whenever writing questions for your stand up meetings, make sure to write questions that fetch answers possible to be iterated.

4. The traditional stand up questions

The three issues traditionally addressed in stand ups are–tasks completed on the previous day, tasks planned for the present day, and challenges faced with the tasks. On their own, these three daily stand-up meeting questions are pretty much complete. But, you can address more issues that are either more specific or relevant to your workflow

5. Unique stand up questions

Adding a few more factors that affect the workflow and productivity is also a good idea. This will help accurately guess the obstacles. For example, ask questions related to the workload, mood/morale, and incomplete tasks. If it's relevant you can also ask the task-related questions in a quantitative context.

6. Asynchronous meetings

The biggest advantage of digital standups is asynchronicity. You do not need all your employees to attend the standup meeting together. You can simply use the automation tools to schedule your daily standups, and then your employees can respond at their convenient time. Asynchronous standups will be compulsory if you have a workforce spread across multiple time zones.

7. The balance between flexibility and mandate

Asynchronicity needs to be enforced with some boundaries. You don't want your employees to delay the stand ups for too long. Eventually, your manager will need all the responses within a certain time to carry out other managerial responsibilities. Thus schedule your stand ups, and provide a window of a couple of hours to respond. This allows your employees room for flexibility, yet you get your responses within a stipulated time.

How long should Stand up meetings last?

It is not uncommon for managers to get entangled in this conflict when planning for an effective stand up meeting agenda. An ideal stand up meeting should last long enough to address all necessary sprint issues, but not long enough to hamper the productivity of your employees. In a traditional office setup, it is believed by many experts that stand up meetings should not exceed 15 minutes–with each member getting a chance to speak for about a minute. If you have a very small team this time should be even less. In a digital remote space, however, you will be conducting asynchronous surveys. Thus, in such scenarios, write daily stand-up meeting questions that do not take more than a minute to respond to.

When is the best time for stand up meetings?

The first thing to consider when deciding the best time for stand up meetings, is to figure out when can you get all your employees together–without hampering the workflow. But, ideally, in the morning before starting work, is considered the prime time for stand ups. Of course, you’ve got to leave a little room prior to your stand ups–for your employees to settle down and get themselves sorted and prepared for the meeting. Once again, however, things are pretty different in remote working. Your employees will be responding to the standups, asynchronously, at their convenient time. But, you will still need to schedule a time and specify a window. So when should that be? Well, in the case of remote working, as well, the best time to schedule stand ups is at the start of your working day. In remote working your employees won’t need much settling down–but they might need some time to organize their workspace and all the necessary tools and software. Putting up a window of an hour or two–should be fine!

Using the Scrum Slack tool Sup for daily stand ups

Sup is a Scrum Slack tool to automate daily stand ups and sprint check-in follow-ups. Sup integrates seamlessly with Slack and lets you conduct your daily scrum directly from slack. Sup has features that help you automate multiple supporting activities that are needed to effectively conduct daily stand up meetings.

1. Sup uses Survey-based questionnaires

Sup as a Scrum Slack tool uses the most efficient means of conducting digital stand up meetings–quick, yet comprehensive surveys. Write up a survey with multiple daily stand-up meeting questions, and use the survey to conduct daily stand ups. You schedule the stand ups to be conducted on specific days of the week, at a specified time–Sup will automate daily stand ups, as per your specifications.

2. Ensure response submission with reminders

A major issue of remote stand ups, is employees forgetting to submit responses in the flow of work. Sup can let you schedule multiple stand up / follow-up reminders at an interval of your choosing. Sup is a responsible Scrum Slack tool that ensures your users never forget to submit their responses. They may be late–but they will never fail. For your user’s convenience, they can choose to put the reminders on snooze.

3. Improve stand up effectiveness with follow-ups

If you truly want your stand ups to be effective, you need the tasks planned in the stand up to head in the right direction and then finally complete as expected. The best solution for that is to schedule follow-up sprint check-in surveys. Write up a survey with a couple of questions to track if the tasks are headed in the right direction, and schedule them anytime throughout the day. Sup allows you to schedule any number of follow-up surveys throughout the day–although, ideally, you shouldn’t be scheduling too many follow-ups throughout the day.

4. Save time with “use previous response.”

Your users can easily respond to daily stand ups and sprint check-in follow-ups directly from Slack. Sup can help your users drastically save time with the option to automatically repeat the previous response as the current response when submitting a standup / follow-up response. When going through long projects–that might require the same response every day for a couple of weeks–this feature will help your users respond to daily stand ups in just a couple of seconds.

5. Customize your own survey

Make the Sup surveys tailor-made to your business/workflow. On Sup, you can have any number of questions for your surveys and write up your own specific questions. You can even write up different sets of questions and save them as templates. Your scrum master can simply use these templates to schedule new follow-ups and stand ups. Finally, you can even personalize the greeting text, that the survey will prompt your user for survey conduction.

5. Keep your process Agile with response editing

The whole purpose of daily scrums is to establish a Agile development process. And to be Agile, you might need to switch between tasks from time-to-time without any prior planning for it. In such situations, you don’t want your stand up survey responses to get irrelevant. Sup, being a smart Scrum Slack tool, understands these Agile needs, and can easily allow you to edit all your previous responses (for both stand ups and follow ups.)

6. Maintain transparency within a team–channel posting

Transparency is a fundamental Agile principle. Only with transparency will you be able to build proper team synchronization. Transparency will also prove critical in reducing communication gaps and misunderstandings. This is a major reason why traditional stand ups were held with all the team members being present, together. Sup can post all the team responses in the relevant Slack channels or as Slack threads–informing all the team members of all the team responses.

In thread posting, Sup will send a message in the channel mentioning the standup name and date, and the team responses will be maintained in a thread to this message. This will help you separate the standup responses from the rest of the communication in the channel. Plus, if you are having different sets of standups for different teams and getting all the responses posted in the same channel—thread posting will help you keep different standups separated and organized.

7. Sup can track your team mood

Your team’s morale is directly related to productivity–and, you definitely need to track it and know when it’s time to inject motivators. You can enable the mood tracking option for your stand up surveys. Sup will collect all the mood responses from your users and compile team mood metrics ( graphically representing it with graphs.) In a traditional stand up, tracking team mood would have been difficult. Since some employees might have felt uncomfortable sharing their mood status with other team members. On Sup, mood tracking is anonymous. Sup will collect the statistics for the entire team but never disclose individual responses-thus, encouraging honest mood responses.

8. Sup has fully customizable surveys

If you need your Stand ups to be thorough and effective, you might need more than just 3 questions. You might even need a different set of questions for different teams working on different projects. Sup understands this need for flexibility when writing questions for your daily stand ups and follow-ups. Sup allows you to write your own questions for the stand ups and follow-ups and allows you to add any number of questions to the surveys.

9. Maintains an easily accessible record

The scrum master will often need to access all the team responses (for the current day or any previous day;) not just to manage the sprint but also to ensure if the stand ups are conducted effectively–and if any changes are required to the stand up agenda. Sup not only stores all the responses ever, but also allows all users to easily sort and access responses based on a specific user, date, or follow-up/stand-up.

10. Sup can generate reports and timesheets

Once you have completed your sprint–you will need to conduct the last two of the four Scrum inspect and adapt events. The event following the daily scrum is the sprint review. Sup can store all the responses as data and can compile the data as spreadsheet reports. In your stand ups you can include work-time-specific questions, and the responses–when compiled to reports will work as timesheets. Reports and timesheets will prove instrumental in sprint review, and consequently, in sprint retrospectives.

11. Sup complies with all timezones

Finally, Sup allows all the features (including features like reminders,) to comply with all timezones. And this compliance is automatically taken care of by Sup–all your users need to do is select their specific timezone settings. With the global timezone compliance, Sup can help you easily conduct daily stand ups on a global workforce.

Tackling the limitations of Stand up meetings

The industry-standard stand up meetings come with many benefits, but they are not without limitations. The strengths and limitations are always two sides of a coin. The very attributes that make for strengths, will in certain use cases pose as limitations. In the case of stand up meetings: its precise and iterative nature. Stand up meetings address issues very objectively to fetch details that can be iterated, and tracked & managed.

However, when dealing with the complexity of human emotions, motivations, expectations, and abilities–accurately predicting the workflow obstacles based on objective information can be challenging. To tackle this issue, you will need to implement a critical and analytical approach. Try to collect information on different aspects that influence your employees' workflow. And, then, it is wise to use a BI tool to systematically analyze (and visualize) the collected information for accurate and actionable insights.