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Stand-ups

The stand-up is a time-boxed ceremony that is held each day of the sprint. In this ceremony, each contributor in the Development Team will answer three simple project questions and an optional social question. This will repeat until each contributor has answered the following questions.

  1. What did you work on yesterday that contributes to meet the sprint goal?
  2. What are you working on today that will contribute to meet the sprint goal?
  3. Do you have any impediments/blockers or need any help? (defer discussion / resolution to "the parking lot", described below)
  4. An optional social question, e.g. "would you rather see the past or the future?"

During the stand-up, additional discussions may arise. Make sure that someone adds them to the parking lot for after meeting discussion.

After that point, the stand-up is concluded.

As a good practice, the items in the parking lot take place right after the stand-up. However, you can opt to discuss the parking lot items at another time before the next stand-up. The participation in the parking lot discussion is optional for all members except those explicitly needed for discussion of the issues raised.

The term parking lot refers to a bucket of comments, concerns, or questions that will be discussed and/or addressed at a later point with potentially fewer contributors. This is part of a strategy to avoid letting the discussion in a meeting shift to a subject that is not aligned with the meeting goals and/or decisions.

Goals

  1. Bring awareness of the progress done towards the sprint goal, and the sprint backlog.
  2. Surface any impediments to one or more team members' contributions.
  3. Maintain contact between remote team members to reduce social barriers to collaboration.

Participation

The entire team should attend the stand-up. Anyone that worked on a task towards the sprint work should answer the three questions. It would be up to the team to decide if they would like updates from members that are not directly working against sprint task work (i.e. Product Owners and Program Managers).

  • Process Lead (Required)
  • Product Owner (Optional)
  • Program Manager (Required)
  • Dev Lead + Contributors (Required)

Impact

Team members get a clear understanding of what development tasks are going on within the team which helps with collaboration. It also provides a time to address any challenges or blockers that may be stopping specific tasks from being completed, therefore helping with velocity.

Measures

Both stand-up length and time to start are important as the stand-up has to be seen as a reliable and efficient meeting that facilitates communication of information versus unnecessary overhead.

Stand-up Length

While the length can depend on the team size, if everyone is sticking to one line answers to the key questions, it should be fairly easy to conclude within 5-10 minutes.

Example (team size == ~8)

  • 1-5 min = Excellent
  • 5-10 min = Great
  • 10-15 min = Good
  • 15+ min = Needs Improvement

Time to Start

How long after the scheduled start time did contributors begin providing updates?

  • 0-1 min = Excellent
  • 1-3 min = Great
  • 3-5 min = Good
  • 5+ min = Needs Improvement

New Tasks Created After Stand-up

How many tasks are being generated after the stand-up that didn't exist before? This can indicate how much unplanned work is being done. If creating new tasks after stand-up becomes routine (especially for the same story), this could indicate the story is at higher risk of not being completed. It could also indicate a shift in focus to an unplanned objective.

Facilitation Guidance

The Process Lead should facilitate the stand-up meeting.

Speak to Tasks

When answering what was worked on and what will be worked on, refer directly to tasks. This has two benefits:

  1. The answer will naturally be short (e.g. "I finished task 114 yesterday; which was to update the build of the api container image. I will be starting on task 115 today; which is to update the release pipeline for the same container image.").
  2. Unplanned work will be easily identifiable. If the person is unable to refer to a task, that typically indicates they are working on something unplanned or out of scope for the sprint (e.g. Yesterday, I was attempting to optimize some unit tests from last sprint to run faster).

If a contributor is not working on an existing sprint task they need to either create a new task under an existing sprint story to reflect that work, or defer that work until it's scheduled for a later sprint.

If a contributor provides an update without referring to a task, ask the contributor which task.

Parking Lot Discussion Items

As contributors are answering the questions, if another contributor has a question or issue to share, they should reserve until after all contributors have finished answering. Once each member has answered all questions, the Process Lead should open up the floor to anyone who may have an open question or unresolved issue to share. This portion of the ceremony is often referred to as the "Parking Lot".

Parking lot discussions are optional for participants.

Ensure discussion leaders call out necessary parties for their discussion points upfront, allowing those not needed to leave the meeting.

Social question

Teams are frequently geographically distributed and include members who have not worked on projects together previously. Social interactions facilitate the development of trust between team members and lower the barriers to collaboration. A social question-of-the-day that has a one-sentence answer contributes to trust development over the course of many stand-ups, with a minimal additional time commitment. The answer to the social question should be brief and follow the project questions answer. The facilitator may choose the social question or take a suggestion from the room. Description of what makes a good question, and a list of starter questions are available within the social question readme.

Start On Time

Make a best effort to begin answering the questions as close to the scheduled start time as possible. Try not to waste time upfront on chit-chat or waiting on all team members to join. This can extend the meeting time significantly. Starting immediately will help ensure stand-ups remain effective and useful over time.

Same Time Every weekday

Stand-up should be held at the same time each weekday. The meeting time should be mutually agreed-upon by the contributors, and should take into consideration time zones, working schedules, and other factors so that every team member can reasonably participate.

Multiple Time zones

For team members distributed across time zones, consider scheduling the stand-up at the best convenient time within the time zone that has the most team members.

Tip: Whenever you have a large difference between the time zones, consider scheduling the stand up in such a way it does not occur at an inconvenient time for the same time zone every day.

Contributors Unable to Attend (async updates)

If a contributor knows that they will have to miss the stand-up, ask them to provide their answers to the questions in written form before the stand-up. They could provide these over a shared Teams channel or email to the team. The Process Lead can then read the answers during the stand-up. Reading the update aloud during the stand-up will ensure the answers are communicated to the team.

Remote Located Team Members

If any team member is working remotely, plan to run stand-ups through conference calls. Ask the team members to keep the camera on as much as possible so that they can see each other when speaking against the questions.

Tip: In order to keep the remote stand-up as efficient, in a good pace and with the collective sense as it is in a physically located stand-up, you can agree on applying a "pick the next one approach" in which the current contributor to speak picks the next in a loop until everyone with contributions had answered the questions.

Resources


Last update: May 7, 2021