Are Daily Scrum meetings worth it?
Daily Scrum is a meeting held every day during an agile scrum software project. The main goal of the meeting is to ensure that development progresses towards the goal of the sprint. It has a number of benefits, but also some rarely mentioned drawbacks.
This article is part of a series on modern software development best practices. Previously I covered agile estimation, and this article will answer if and why your project might need a daily scrum.
The daily is often called a ‘stand-up meeting’, and is supposed to be short, e.g. 15 minutes. It’s facilitated by the scrum master, and is typically at the same time and in the same place every morning. Each member of the scrum team answers the following questions:
What did I do yesterday?
What will I do today?
Do I have any blockers?
The scrum master should record any blockers and try to clear them. The point of the meeting is to increase communication between the team members and plan work for the following 24 hours. The product owner may join the meeting but is not expected to participate. Sometimes a teleconference call is made so that remote members can also join.
Although the daily scrum has clear intended benefits, it also has drawbacks. Since team members arrive at work at slightly different times, the daily is usually not the first thing in the morning for most developers. This will interrupt programming flow.
Discussing blockers at the daily also has a drawback — waiting for the next daily instead of communicating and trying to clear the blocker immediately during the day.
Although the daily is not supposed to be a “status meeting”, the status part of the meeting, e.g. “what did I do and what will I do” can be replaced by an up-to-date issue tracker. If the issues that people are working on take weeks instead of few days, the granularity can be increased by splitting the issues.
And lastly, the daily does take some time from the day that could be spent on other more beneficial activities. Sometimes the daily also takes more than the ideal 15 minutes, as people like to discuss in depth the issues they’re tackling. This, of course, could be avoided by the scrum master by enforcing the time limit.
In my experience the daily scrum is sometimes beneficial but sometimes unnecessary. Usually the better the project is going, the less you need the daily. If issue tracker is used well and communication is active within the team, the daily has little value.
It’s also possible to do slight variations on the idea, as the daily can be replaced by a weekly meeting, or perhaps having the daily 2–3 times per week instead of every day. Another variation would be to do the daily on Slack which can even be asynchronous.
The great thing about agile development is that you can experiment with different processes. The official scrum guideline doesn’t need to be followed to the letter.
If you need help with agile processes, don’t hesitate to contact us.