Standup meetings exist to drive the workflow with an efficient momentum and in an effective direction. Thus, one of the most quintessential traits of standup meetings would naturally be, the quality of being effective.
Before we explain how to conduct daily standup meetings efficiently and showcase a sample standup meeting template we need to address the importance and challenges of standup meetings, especially with regards to remote working.
The importance of standup meetings
When working remotely, what are the major challenges you face as a project manager, product owner, or team leader? Whatever the combination of challenges you are facing, the chances are quite high that you have the difficulty of task management, somewhere in the mix.
In remote working, keeping a regular track of task progress for all the employees and accordingly managing the sprint, can be a troubling state of affairs. And, this is particularly why having the right agile standup meeting agenda is more important than ever.
Daily scrum meetings are designed with the purpose to tap into the very pulse of daily workflow and iterate task progress. By design and default, standup meetings help you organize the process of daily task tracking and analyze the findings for insights to improve or improvise the sprint.
The challenges of standup meetings
When trying to build an effective daily standup agenda, it is of paramount importance to first identify and then understand the challenges faced, when conducting daily standup meetings. Because, quite simply put, if you can eliminate the challenges, you will have an effective stand up meeting agenda.
The foremost problem faced by managers with standup meetings is how to keep them short yet effective. Engaging your employees regularly in time-consuming stand-ups can, in itself, be counterproductive. However, in the effort to save time, it is also counterproductive to rush through the daily scrum meetings and miss out on addressing important questions. Finding the right balance is challenging.
The second notable challenge is to fetch significant insights on how to manage the sprint based on the task progress. It is the norm to iterate the details of standup meetings, and then later, analyze the iterations to look for insightful findings that help improve the sprint. However, on many occasions simply recording the task progress won't be insightful enough to help improve the sprint. Thus, for an organization, figuring out the appropriate daily standup questions that result in insightful findings, is challenging.
Objectives of effective Daily standup meetings
The next topic we must shed a little light on is what objectives you want your scrum meeting agenda to meet, in order to become effective.
1. Thorough task details
Tracking task progress is the primary goal of standup meetings. So definitely, you want your meeting details to address all the task-related queries required to get a thorough overview of task progress.
2. Address industry-specific queries
Taking updates on tasks completed on the previous day, and taking updates on the tasks for the current working day–are the standard task questions used by many organizations. However, for certain businesses, industry-specific questions that deal with the nature, quantity, or quality of the task–may be needed.
3. Address progress obstacles
What's the point of tracking task progress if we are not going to try and improve it. And if we are to improve task progress, then we will need to identify and eliminate the impediments that are suppressing task progress. Thus, an effective daily standup meeting template should always try to identify task impediments.
4. Address team mood
On many occasions, standup meetings fail to address the emotional and psychological environment in the workspace. It shouldn't come as a surprise that your team morale is integrally related to productivity and performance. Thus your scrum meeting agenda should also include keeping a tab on team mood.
5. Time-efficient standups
The whole purpose of having standup meetings is to avoid getting caught up in too many meetings throughout the day. And now, if the standups themselves become time-consuming, it’s quite a counterproductive scenario, isn’t it? Effective daily Standup meetings are always minimal and time-efficient. Your employees will appreciate short and precise standup meetings, that demand little effort and time.
10 Tips to build an effective Standup meeting agenda
Now coming to the very core content of this blog–are actionable tips. How can you actually build your daily stand up meeting template to make it effective? Following are some tried and tested tips that show marked improvement in the effectiveness of daily standups.
1. Seek objective answers
Whatever issue you are addressing, when framing your daily standup questions–ensure that your employees can respond with objective answers. Objective answers will not only save time but are also easily iterated and analyzed.
2. Questions of value
Include questions in your scrum meeting agenda that directly enquire about the task obstacles. These questions will reveal the workspace, work culture, and technical shortcomings that your management needs to work on. Questions of Value reveal the immediate obstacles to progress.
3. Ditch traditional meetings
In a remote/hybrid workspace, traditional meetings like voice conferences and video conferences work well for task discussions and task brainstorming–but, not so much for daily standups. For daily stand-up meetings, embrace survey questionnaires–they are the best instruments! Simply write up important standup meeting questions, and let your employees respond to them on a regular basis.
4. Conduct asynchronously
Don't make it a mandate for your employees to respond to standup questions daily, at a fixed time. Rather, schedule a fixed time for your standups, but also allow your employees to manage the day's start according to their convenience–and then respond to the standup. With this process, your employees will respond to daily standups more accurately and comfortably.
5. Asynchronous, but with a window.
Strike the balance between freedom and mandate. You don't want your employees to take the standups, too much at their liberty. It will complicate your managerial responsibilities. Rather, specify a window of an hour or two. The window gives your employees the flexibility to manage their own time but also compels them to adhere to a limit.
6. Follow up on your standups
A good way to ensure your standups are effective is to follow up on them. When conducting survey-based asynchronous standups regularly–you will have sufficient time to schedule yet another survey, anytime throughout the day, to check if the progress has been in adherence to stand-up details.
7. Do not forget transparency
Teamwork cannot be neglected when setting your daily stand up meeting agenda. Thus, everyone in a team needs to stay in the loop with what's happening with everyone else. This transparency is required to avoid unnecessary rework and misprioritizing of tasks–resulting from communication gaps.
8. Do not disclose individual mood
Tracking team mood or morale is vital to productivity. However, in a traditional setup, it would have been a great challenge to extract honest responses from employees. Not everyone wants to disclose how they are feeling. Thus when making the standup details public and transparent, you will have to skip the mood/morale; let that be anonymous.
9. Respond with task links
There will be multiple similar-sounding tasks, and for a manager, it can get confusing at times. Thus, when responding to task tracking questions, ask your employees to respond with task links. This will make task tracking and management much easier.
10. Automate with digital tools
With different applications, platforms, and bots, there are plenty of ways to automate your daily standup meetings. As a manager don't engage regularly in conducting stand ups. Employ a digital tool to automate daily standups and save yourself some time and effort!
Using Sup on Slack to conduct daily Standup meetings.
Sup is the complete standup bot that integrates with Slack to help you automate multiple standup functionalities on a daily basis.
You can use Sup to schedule and automate daily Standup surveys. Your employees can easily respond to the standup surveys from Slack itself. Sup can also schedule multiple reminders on Slack for the standups, to ensure that your employees never miss them.
Sup also has the feature to schedule multiple follow-up sprint check-ins throughout the day, to ensure if your task progress is heading in the right direction.
You can write any number of questions for your daily standups and save them as templates. You can later use these templates to create new follow-ups and standups.
Sup gives you many complementary standup features as well, like, viewing teammate responses, and accessing previous standup responses for both viewing and editing.
Sup does more than just tracking tasks–it can help with reporting as well. The response collected by Sup can be stored, and upon request, can be compiled and downloaded into CSV reports.
Last but not the least, Sup has the feature to track mood anonymously. Sup collects mood responses during daily standup meetings. These mood responses are collected and compiled to graphically display an aggregate team mood stat.
Sample daily stand-up meeting questions
It is always best if—following the definitions, objectives, and tips—you can come up with your own set of daily stand-up meeting questions, that fit your business uniquely. However, you can take inspiration from the following standup questions.
1. What task did you complete yesterday?
This stand-up meeting question, typically used in scrum ceremonies, is recommended in the Agile methodology of software development. This question is solely concerned with collecting task tracking details. It needs you to respond with all the tasks that you completed on the previous day.
2. What tasks do you have for today?
This question is yet another task tracking question recommended in the Agile methodology of software development. To this question, you respond with all the tasks you have planned (or, assigned with) for the current working day.
3. What tasks are remaining from yesterday?
This is not a traditional question. Especially because you can find out the remaining tasks from the previous two questions. But remember, efficiency is our objective. So why spend time in further processing, when we can directly include a question to enquire upon remaining tasks. This question also gives instant insight into the performance of different employees.
4. Some industry-specific questions.
For some industries, where the productivity is closely tied to the units (or amount) of work completed, you may also want to include questions that enquire on the units of work completed or remaining. For example, in the content writing industry, you can have questions like "How many words did you write yesterday?" Or, "How many words remain from yesterday?"
5. What impediments are you facing?
This question directly asks for the obstacles an employee is facing, that are acting as a hindrance to task completion. Generally, this question aims to address technical setbacks that the management needs to work on, to ease the work environment for the employees.
6. What is the workload?
A greater workload can affect both the task completion rate and employee well-being. Thus, an inquiry into the workload will give an insight into both task progress and team mood.
7. How are you feeling today?
Or, How is your mood today? You will need to ask questions like these to ensure your team morale isn't falling at a concerning rate. Such questions will help you identify the relation between task progress and team morale, identify phases of low team morale, and identify periods that imminently need motivators.
Are your standup meeting questions effective?
Now once you have designed your Standup questions and have started implementing them, what parameters do you check on to ensure that they are actually being effective? The key is to note, that the standup meetings benefit both the sprint management and employee well-being equally.
1. Are you getting sufficient insights to improve sprint?
The whole purpose of tracking tasks is to manage the sprint and be more productive. Hence, if you are not getting sufficient insights from the responses–you need to rethink your questions.
2. Are the sprint improvements actually improving task progress?
It is possible that you are getting sufficient insights from the responses, but the changes suggested by the insights–are in reality, not bringing any improvements. In such a case there are two possibilities. One, the insights you have fetched are inaccurate. Two, the responses themselves were inaccurate. Whenever faced with inaccurate responses, it's time to rethink the questions
3. Are the employees facing fewer challenges at work?
Keep an eye on the questions that enquire upon difficulties faced by employees at work. If the difficulties faced are not being addressed, then you need to address more (specific) questions that seek to investigate the causes and nature of difficulties faced.
4. Are the team mood stats improving?
Lastly, check if your average team morale is sufficiently high. If not, then include questions that enquire upon the reason for mood status, workload, and difficulties faced at work.
As an end note, remember that you are dealing with human beings. The problems faced by your employees, their skill set, their mood parameters, and their ability to tackle workload—will always be changing and evolving. Thus, not only will it require you to take multiple attempts at finding the right daily standup meeting format, but, you will need to evaluate the effectiveness of the format every once in a while—and, improvise accordingly.
- Anubhav De