What is a Daily Scrum?

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Last updated on
15th Mar, 2021
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15th Jul, 2020
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What is a Daily Scrum?

The Daily Scrum is a tool used by the Scrum team to inspect progress toward the Sprint Goal and assess how progress is trending toward completion of the work against the Sprint Backlog. The Daily Scrum is an important agile ceremony at the heart of the Agile framework. 

The Daily Scrum is a 15-minute time-boxed event for the Scrum team. The Daily Scrum is held every day of the Sprint. At it, the Scrum team plans work for the next 24 hours. This optimizes team collaboration and performance by inspecting the work since the last Daily Scrum and forecasting upcoming Sprint work. The Daily Scrum is held at the same time and place each day to reduce complexity. 

Scrum Guide 2017 

The Team meets daily, preferably at the start of the day in a meeting called the daily scrum. This is strictly time boxed to 15 minutes. This keeps the discussion brisk and relevant. All team members are required to attend the meeting including scrum masters. Product owners and Manager are optional; if they attend, they are advised to be silent listeners. 

In this article, we understand  

Purpose of the Daily Scrum 

During the daily scrum, each team member should answer the following three questions: 

  • What did you do yesterday? 
  • What will you do today? 
  • Are there any impediments in your way? 

By focusing on what each person accomplished yesterday and is planning to accomplish today, the team gains an excellent understanding of what work has been done and how much work remains.  

During the Daily Scrum, the main question should be about impediments; if any of the team members facing any impediments, they are required to bring it to the fore and someone from the team will volunteer to help out. The discussion about the impediments will happen offline, so that the 15-minute window is not disturbed. In most cases, the team will figure out the solution themselves. If it is beyond the ability of the team, then it becomes the prime responsibility of the Scrum Master to listen, understand and remove the impediments standing in the way of the team’s delivery.

Scrum Master and impediments
Scrum Master and impediments

Who runs the Daily Scrum meeting?

While the Scrum Master ensures that the Scrum team meets daily at the specified time, it is the Scrum team who is responsible for conducting the daily meetings. The Scrum Master coaches the Scrum team to keep the daily scrum meeting timeboxed to 15 minutes. This is a step towards making the agile team self-organized. 

Inspection and adaption at the heart of Scrum 

The Scrum team uses the Daily Scrum to inspect the progress towards the Sprint Goal. The daily scrum increases the probability of the Scrum team meeting the Sprint Goal. The goal is to make the team self-motivated and self-organized. 

The discussion in daily scrum should be limited to the three questions mentioned above, if there are any further discussions required, the team can meet outside of this call and set up separate meetings with other team members. 

This meeting improves communication and collaboration, eliminates other meetings, removes impediments, improves the health of the sprint, and promotes quick decision-making. It is a key “inspect and adapt” meeting. 

What are the basic rules of the Daily Scrum? 

The Daily Scrum is not a status update meeting 

The daily scrum meeting is not a status update meeting in which a manager is collecting information about who is behind schedule. Rather, it is a meeting in which team members make commitments to each other. By virtue of this meeting, the team gets an idea about where the sprint is heading – is it behind schedule or ahead? Accordingly, corrective steps can be taken. 

The Daily Scrum is not a problem-solving meeting 

This meeting should not be considered as a problem-solving opportunity. Issues that are raised must be taken offline right after the scrum meeting with the specific group of people concerned with the issues. 

Some Anti patterns for Daily Scrum

Anti-patterns for Daily Scrum
Anti-patterns for Daily Scrum

Changing the time of the scrum daily 

This is not a good practice and Scrum Master should ensure that the team meets at the same time daily with minimal exception. 

Daily Scrum is used to discuss new requirements or technical tasks 

This will again hijack the purpose of the daily scrum; such discussions should be taken offline, outside of the daily scrum meeting. 

Daily Scrum changed to status report 

In many instances, a senior person other than scrum team member joins the daily scrum and in some sort of fear, this changes to a status meeting; Scrum master is required here to help the Scrum team. 

Ageing of work item age 

Scrum team is facing difficulty in getting one issue resolved from so many days and no one is offering help. Scrum Master should intervene here and remove the impediment. 

Allowing one person to lead 

This meeting is for the team and no one should lead here. A key tenet is to move the teams towards becoming self-directed and self-organized. 

Cluelessness or not listening 

Sometimes, team members are so keen for their turn and their statuses that they will miss out important communication. 

Stating the same daily task on every consecutive day 

We need to think about why the same status is continuing and whether there is anything that is holding a team member up; the team should work on that immediately to remove the impediment. 

Why a stand up? 

A stand up is typically a short, time-boxed meeting of 15 minutes. When the team members are co-located, the discomfort of standing up during the meeting will serve to keep tab on how long the meeting runs for and helps it to be short and time boxed. 

Importance of the Scrum Board 

Scrum board is highly recommended in the daily scrum meeting. 

It gives better visibility to not only the team but other stakeholders too. In case somebody missed the daily scrum, meeting can quickly go through the scrum board and gather updates from there. It is recommended that scrum board not only has the data of the sprint progress but it should also have sprint burn down chart also so that the team will have updates on the health of the sprint. On top of the board, the Goal of the sprint should also be mentioned along with Definition of Done list.

Ideally, one should not book the conference room for daily scrum meeting. Conducting the meeting as a stand-up keeps the meeting short. 

In many instances, team members are not on time for the Daily Scrum and also tend to skip it. Here, it is the responsibility of the Scrum master to make sure that all team members understand the responsibility of the meeting and try their best to attend the meeting on time. 

If the situation doesn’t improve, then teams can employ different tactics such as daily fines or penalties so that team members do not skip the meeting. It ultimately depends on the team how they want to cultivate a discipline of culture within the team. 

Who are the participants of a Daily Scrum? 

The entire team which includes Developers, Testers, Business Analyst, Architects, Dev leads/Tech leads. Product owner are welcome to attend the Daily scrum, though this is not mandated. 

Managers should generally avoid these meetings, as there are high chances of losing focus and the meeting turning into a status check meeting. 

What are the responsibilities of the three Scrum roles during the Daily Scrum? 

Scrum team’s responsibility 

Individual responsibility 

Each team member must answer the three important questions: (1) What you have done?(2) What will you do today? (3) Are there any impediments? Not only must the individual team members pay attention to others’ updates, but also listen to see if there is any impediment that they can help solve. 

Team responsibility 

Together, the team bears the responsibility to ensure that they meet daily for 15 minutes and provide the updates. The Scrum team is collectively responsible for conducting daily scrum meetings. 

Scrum Master’s responsibility 

Scrum master ensures Scrum team meets daily within a 15-minute time box. The daily scrum meeting is an internal meeting; if other stakeholders are present, then the scrum master must make sure they do not disrupt the meeting. 

Product Owner’s responsibility 

While not a mandatory attendee, the Product owner is welcome to attend, listen and observe. It is good for a product owner to attend the Daily scrum as it will give them the opportunity to guide the team if any team members deviate from the Sprint Goal or if there is change in the scope or goal of the sprint. 

What should the Daily Scrum approach be for virtual, distributed, and co-located teams? 

First and the foremost thing that needs to be kept in mind that we should respect each other timings. Few hours of overlap is definitely required when the teams are not collocated. Video conferencing or any tools like skype meeting or team meetings can be used to do daily scrum meetings. We have seen non-collocated teams to be more loosely coupled than collocated teams. 

Here are some measures that teams can take to increase the effectiveness of the remote daily scrum. Team should institute the following measures. 

  1. Install video cameras and speakers: While carrying out the Daily Scrum remotely, investing in the right set of web cameras and speakers helps retain the effectiveness of collocated Scrum meetings; privacy aspects would need to be carefully considered before enforcing this. 
  2. Consider time zones: Respect the time zones of all the remote teams and have considerable amounts of overlap between the teams. 
  3. Invest in tools: Organizations must invest in good tools such as JIRA and Visual Studio Online to help the team speed up work and by syncing up easily. While such tools are not meant to replace the physical daily scrum meeting, they help the team see the daily progress happening across locations. 
  4. Travel: Even the scrum guide says that travel budget should be kept aside for successful delivery with offshore teams. Let people gather at one location, hang out, discuss, make good friends, understand, and share their cultures and build trust. 

It helps to build the collaboration, communication, and richness. 

What is the outcome of the Daily Scrum? 

The Daily Scrum is basically a health check of the sprint deliverables. The outcome of the Daily Scrum is that the team learns early of any impediments to any individual’s work, which can be immediately addressed. If there are any deviations from the original plan, then this can be tracked easily through the Daily Scrum. 

What are the challenges in running the Daily Scrum? 

  • Distributed teams 

If the team is geographically collocated, then there might be challenges in running daily scrum due to different time zones. Here, the teams must find some overlap in timing across the time zones among the teams. Although a physical scrum board is not possible in such cases, agile tools like Jira and Visual Studio Online can fulfil this to some extent. 

  • Resistance to change 

A change of mindset from the waterfall to the agile model will have some challenges initially. Scrum team members should have the mindset to adjust the change in requirements as well as change in priorities. Invest some time in inculcating Agile mindset and principles along with Scrum values. 

  • Team stands still and thinks it is the waste of time 

A few team members may have the attitude that this meeting is just a waste of time and will therefore not pay any attention to the updates from other team members. Such team members are hindrances to the delivery of the project. Their concerns must be addressed, and mindset corrected on an immediate basis. 

  • Discussion on urgent scope change, defect or integration testing 

In some instances, team members may start a discussion on burning topics such as an escalation on high priority defects. However, even in such cases, the team should adhere to the guidelines for the scrum meeting and all other items right after scrum meeting. 

  • Long technical discussions in the daily scrum is the waste of time of other team members 

Long technical discussions should be strictly avoided in scrum meetings as this may not be relevant for other team members. Such discussions must be had in smaller forums at other times than the daily scrum meetings. 

How can we make the Daily Scrum more effective? 

For the Daily Scrum to be used effectively, teams must understand its importance and adhere to the timings and be punctual for this meeting. The team must always keep the scrum board up to date, have meetings around it, and let each team members update the board. If distributed teams are using the board (with online tools like Rally or Jira), then these must be maintained up to date before the daily scrums.  

Teams must use the “parking lot” for any other technical discussion that need to be conducted outside of the daily scrum. Burn down charts and the Sprint Goal must always be updated on the scrum board. 

It is always effective to have a standup meeting rather than sitting down. Some teams use a game like passing the ball or calling the other team member’s name to keep the energy going rather than taking the same sequence repeatedly. 

Conclusion

For the Daily Scrum to be used effectively, teams must understand its importance and adhere to the timings and be punctual for this meeting. The team must always keep the scrum board up to date, have meetings around it, and let each team members update the board. If distributed 

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Shilpi Jain

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Shilpi is an experienced Scrum Master have 9+ years of experience in IT industry. She worked in companies like GE Healthcare and Nokia Siemens and currently working as a freelancer where she has contributed in many Technical Articles on Scrum/Agile, Project Management Tools (Atlassian, Jira and Rally), Project Management, Scrum Agile Certifications Questions and Answers (Test Paper Writing). She carries certifications like Certified Scrum Master, Fundamentals of Scum, Certified Six Sigma Black Belt (CSSBB). She always shares her personal experiences in her Articles. She is a passionate writer and blogger about the Scrum and Agile Methodology.