Daily Scrum Meetings – A Waste of Time?

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Daily Scrum meeting is a waste of time? People hate it. 

Yes, you heard it right. And in fact, I’m totally in favor of the above statement. Daily scrum meetings are a pure waste of time if the “Scrum Team” doesn’t know how to run it. 

I have interviewed people to get an understanding of their thoughts on what they think about DSM. Mostly the criticism looks like this:

  • Why I do have to report the progress of my task to Scrum Master, Can’t he/she take the status update from Jira.
  • I’m spending almost 30-45 mins every day in this meeting where I have shared my status in like ~2 mins, but still got to wait till the meeting gets over and I get back to working on my tasks.
  • 15 mins window is not allowing me to discuss my problems on the tasks aligned.
  • We are unaware of the Sprint Goal.
  • Some of the members of the Scrum Team join the meeting late. 

I’m sure most of you have found the above criticism familiar and have been in the situation. It’s important to understand all these concerns or criticism points to one thing, the Scrum Team doesn’t have a clear understanding of how to do the Daily Scrum Meeting. 

I know, most of us know how we should conduct DSM as per Scrum Guidelines. But there is something I would like to share with you which I read in the book “Scrum – The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time” by Jeff Sutherland (Co-Creator of Scrum) 

Daily Stand-up or Daily Scrum. This is the heartbeat of Scrum. 

So I must say that it’s not a waste of time, without Daily Scrum or Doing it wrongly would lead you to failure for sure. Let’s understand them closely

Have a clear understanding of  3 Questions

Most of the scrum team use three questions in Daily Scrum:

  • What did I work on yesterday?
  • What am I doing today?
  • Is there any blocker? 

The above questions are not wrong but it surely turns out to be a status report if you don’t talk about the sprint goals. Sprint Goals are essential for a Sprint as without a goal Scrum Team would not be able to measure their progress towards that goal. So the Scrum Team must have a clear understanding of the Sprint goal. Scrum Master can ensure it. Now the following questions will look like this:

  • What did I do yesterday to help the team achieve the Sprint Goal
  • What will I do today to help the team achieve the Sprint Goal
  • Is there any obstacle blocking you or the team from achieving the Sprint Goal?

 These three questions will help the team to plan their next 24hrs. 

Daily Scrum Meeting  is not a Daily Status Report Meeting

Before introducing Scrum in a project. Scrum Master must train the Scrum Team about the Scrum Framework as per Scrum Guide. And specifically, about the Daily Scrum meeting, it’s important to understand that there is no manager in this meeting, Only Scrum master is there, who will ensure that the meeting should start and ends on time along with removing the impediments.

Developers/Engineers are responsible to drive an effective Daily Scrum Meeting. There is no detailed reporting to management required.  

Daily Scrum meetings should not be used as status reporting as there are tools available like Velocity, Burndown Chart to understand the progress of the Sprint. And also Scrum has review meetings and retrospectives to make sure how the team is performing.

So, Daily scrum is essential to understand how we are progressing towards our goal and remove any impediments along the way.

 A Big No to technical discussions

This is the first reason why Daily scrum meetings take more than 15 mins. We can understand that Scrum Team needs to discuss the technical issue when they face one during the execution of a task. These technical issues need to be reported to Scrum Master as an obstacle or impediment, which need to be resolved later on not when the meeting is in progress.  

Do not do Planning in Daily Scrum

This is the second reason which affects the 15mins window of the Daily Scrum Meeting. The scrum team should keep in mind that Daily scrum meetings shouldn’t be used for planning purposes since other ceremonies are there in Scrum to plan and monitor the progress of the Sprint.

I would suggest if you need to plan the tickets or tasks that you have on your list, plan them before an hour you meet for DSM (Daily Scrum Meeting), In this way, we would be able to respect the 15 min window and others team members’ time as well. 

Better be early, than sorry

Daily Scrum meetings must be at the same time daily. If some of the Team members are joining the Daily Scrum meeting late due to some unforeseen circumstance, that’s fine it’s understandable. But if it’s becoming a frequent occurrence, then I would suggest Scrum master find the root cause of the problem. Block the meeting as per the agreement and convenience of all the team members. And ask the Scrum Team it’s important to have their video turned on while having a remote meeting. 

Conclusion

At its core, Daily Scrum is essential for Sprint’s success, avoiding it or automating it would not solve the problem. We must collaborate to discuss the progress or any obstacles, and the Daily Scrum meeting is the place where we know we can do that. Doing it effectively is the responsibility of the Developers/Engineers or the Scrum Team. Scrum Master to ensure that Daily Scrum is being effectively followed and if needed train the Scrum Team to effectively run it

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Written by 

Amit Nair is working as a Project Manager at Knoldus Inc. He has over 13 yrs of experience in managing Web Development and Mobile App Development projects. He has over 100 Projects in his portfolio. He likes to read a lot and recently started writing about his experiences in the Project Management domain.

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