You’ve likely been hearing more these days about teams using Agile to deliver solutions. It’s becoming more popular, and you wonder if you’re missing the benefits. Using an Agile approach helps teams deliver value faster. The approach also increases transparency and accountability within project teams.
But perhaps your organization isn’t ready to make a full switch to Agile. While other people are learning about Agile and getting the benefits, you’re still wondering if it’s right for you. Even if your project team is following a waterfall methodology or some variation, you may wish to try some Agile practices.
The daily scrum
An easy practice to try with your development team is the daily Scrum meeting. The daily Scrum is also called the daily stand-up. It’s called this because participants usually stand to remind them to keep the meeting short and focused. The Scrum meeting usually lasts for fifteen minutes or less.
The goal of the daily Scrum meeting is to foster communication between team members. It’s not meant to be a status meeting. Rather, it’s an opportunity for team members to share what they’re working on and if they have challenges or roadblocks that need to be addressed quickly. This allows the team to offer support and keep the work moving forward. The Scrum team is usually made up of 7-10 people. If you get larger numbers, it gets harder to manage and stay focused.
How to do it
During the Scrum meeting, each person answers these three questions:
- What did you work on yesterday?
- What will you work on today?
- Do you have any impediments?
If managers attend, it’s as silent observers only. The Scrum Master usually leads the daily Scrum meeting, but a project manager could do this for a team not practicing formal Agile.
Scrum meetings are often held face-to-face, but if part of your team works remotely, you can hold the meeting with everyone calling in. It levels the playing field for all. If you’ve got everyone in a room with one or two people calling in, it’s difficult for those on the phone to hear and be as much a part of the conversation. But try variations and see what works best for your team. If possible, it’s usually best to hold these meetings in the morning. That way each person can state what they’ll be working on for the day and be accountable to the team to get it done.
The biggest challenge when you start will be to keep everyone focused on answering the three questions and moving on.
Make it a group effort to hold larger discussions for after the meeting. Keep a “Post meeting discussion” list so, team members know what needs to be held as after-meeting discussion items. That way they’ll be more comfortable holding topics until after each person has answered the three questions.
You’ll find that with experience, your team will get better at it. Communication will flow more efficiently, roadblocks can be handled quicker, and your development team will see the benefits of transparency and supporting one another via this practice.
Leigh Espy, PMP, SPC, CSM, is the author of “Bad Meetings Happen to Good People: How to Run Meetings That Are Effective, Focused, and Produce Results.” She has over 15 years of project management experience with a primary focus on IT project management and has led multimillion dollar international projects and corporate strategy initiatives. Leigh also coaches and mentors project managers and those making a move to a project management career. You can find out more about Leigh at ProjectBliss and LeighEspy.com. Leigh writes about communication and project methodologies.