Conducting Daily Stand-ups across Distributed Teams

Daily stand-up meetings play an important role in the success of Scrum process-based projects Sprint planning meetings and retrospectives are the corner stones of a successful Scrum project. All people sit together for a day and talk together what was done and how to go forward. The customer is there who has a crystal clear plan on what to do next. The team can do ad-hoc backlog grooming by splitting too big items into smaller items that they can commit to. And so on. When the team is spread around geographically you inevitably have a mix of people: some feeling tired because it’s early, some feeling tired because it’s late and always some annoying peppy ones because it’s the middle of their morning and they’ve had 7 coffees so far.

Add in cultural differences and that English (or whatever your primary language for communicating is) might not be someone’s native tongue and you are sometimes going to have challenges.

1.Time and Availability issue in different time zones – This is an obstacle, but it persists throughout all the activities and not just the daily scrum. When people are in different time zones, there will be people joining the daily stand-up while they have just entered the office and there will be people attending daily stand up before they are just about to leave. This means they are in very different mind sets, and it also changes the way you function as a ScrumMaster. Instead of removing obstacles and bottlenecks throughout the day, you are essentially removing them as half of your team sleeps. If you are not empowered to remove impediments, they wake up blocked. Not a good situation.

2.Communication problem-Technical Issues – This issue is becoming less of a hurdle. Skype is relatively cheap and popular now, and the technology will only improve from here. I’ve spoken with teams that do everything from Cisco Telepresence on a big screen to do face to face daily scrum, planning, retros, etc to teams with remote team members Skyped in on a laptop that sits on a cart they can wheel around the room.

Tips for conducting Daily Stand-ups across Distributed teams

1. Create a shared area to work and the expected standard of its utilization.
2. Adopt a “community calendar” that holds all meetings and all meeting agendas so the teams can decide if they need to change their schedule to accomplish what they want/need for the day. Included who is out of the office.
3. All meeting minutes have to be published in the shared area
4. Document who is working on what during the SCRUM and post it
5. During the SCRUM post a calendar of daily meetings maybe even include Key Findings from the previous days meetings.
6. An initial workshop with all parties involved allows for the introductions and rapport which establishes trust and helps begin the team relationship



christymax12's picture

The traditional daily standup meeting goes like this:
The standup meeting is conducted face-to-face (in person or over video chat) and is limited to 15 minutes.
Each person has 1-2 minutes to express what they did yesterday, what they’re working on today and what’s blocking them from completing important tasks.
Someone holds a timer and keeps the meeting on schedule. If a discussion breaks out, the person running the meeting asks people to discuss it after the meeting.
As Tommy Morgan explained in his post Daily Meetings are Great but You Should Never Have Them, the whole point of a standup meeting is to exchange information, but asking questions to clarify issues and receive insight are banned. These face-to-face meetings are also very disruptive because you have to stop what you’re doing to attend, whether you’re in the zone or not. Tommy’s proposal is to do daily standup meetings over email instead. I liked his idea but I wanted to take it even further.