As software development becomes a core component of every organization, its processes are also becoming a commonplace feature of all workplaces. One such aspect is the scrum meeting.
Like weekly or monthly meetings, scrum is an agile framework used to reduce product development times by breaking the entire project into smaller tasks. Similarly, scrum meetings are short, hyper-targeted meeting sessions that help document team feedback and keep them aligned with their respective objectives and goals.
These meetings happen every day and usually involve the development teams. Its primary purpose is to discuss progress, the day's tasks, and what needs to be done tomorrow.
Scrum meetings can be a great way to align your employees with the project at hand, making it a great project management practice. The only condition is to ensure that the meeting is done correctly. This article will discuss scrum meetings in detail, including the strategies you can use to make them effective and solutions such as Otter.ai that can help you improve communication within the organization.
What Is A Scrum Meeting?
According to a study, individuals spend almost 3 hours of their working week attending meetings (1). It is a time-consuming task that takes away from other essential assignments that employees could handle.
Instead, why not break down the meetings into shorter, actionable tasks? The concept of scrum meetings comes from the agile methodology of software development.
In agile philosophy, tasks are known as "sprints," as they have to complete them before the time ends. Sprints usually last a maximum of 30 days. In addition, scrum meetings are conducted daily to track progress. These meetings are also known as "stand-up meetings," which, as the name suggests, require the members to stand. This is used as a technique to keep meetings short. The whole point is to efficiently align the team, track progress, and create a roadmap for completing future tasks.
Conducting a scrum meeting may sound like an easy task, given that it doesn't last for more than 15 minutes, but there are certain aspects of the scrum meeting crucial to making it work.
Here are a few tips on how to run a scrum meeting that is short and productive.
How To Run A Successful Scrum Meeting
According to Woody Zuill, "If you adopt only one agile practice, let it be retrospectives. Everything else will follow."
Keeping track of past events to plan for the future can help you avoid mistakes and improve results.
1. Stay Focused
Focus is key when it comes to scrum meetings. Most meetings tend to go off on a tangent, prolonging the conclusion. Instead, a scrum meeting should be solely meant to identify what each team member is currently working on and if they are facing certain issues. Anything outside of that realm is unnecessary and, in turn, ineffective.
Experts suggest that to maintain focus within the team, ensure that each team member answers the following questions during the daily scrum:
- What work was completed since the last meeting? Members must comment on whether their commitments from the previous meeting were met.
- What are the tasks for today? Members explain their duties for today and how much of it will be completed by tomorrow's meeting.
- Are there any issues? Members discuss any problems they might face regarding a particular aspect of a project.
These questions should not be asked but instead answered without a prompt. It is important to note that if the team member does miss a question, you will need to ensure they answer the question before moving on to the next person. Answering all three questions will help the whole team understand what each member is doing and how they are contributing to the project.
2. Table Any Problem Solving
Scrum meetings are not meant for problem-solving. When conducting the meeting, members are asked about any problems they may be facing, but these cannot be addressed during the session. Therefore, it is important to note down these problems and hold a separate meeting to resolve them so that they are addressed.
3. Preparation Ahead Of Time
You cannot go into a scrum meeting unprepared. Team leaders need to ensure that team members know what is expected from them before every session. Once the expectations are set, it is the responsibility of the team members to prepare their answers for every meeting. It is advised to reward team members that fulfill their duties. Setting this precedence can help you keep track of your projects and help them towards completion.
4. Keep It Short
Meetings tend to go on for hours on end, and they start getting ineffective after a point. Scrums need to be short and done quickly for them to be on point. If the meeting goes on too long, members tend to get distracted, resulting in teams wanting to avoid joining them.
The daily scrum should last for about 15 minutes to be effective. Some experts suggest the 2n + 5 formula, where n is the number of team members present.
For a meeting to be effective and time-efficient, it is essential to practice punctuality. If the meeting is set to be at a specific time, you need to ensure it starts then. It would be best not to wait for anyone to start a scrum meeting. Waiting for people can be time-wasting making the meeting ineffective. Instead, let your team members trickle in as the meeting begins.
That being said, it should not absolve the people coming late regularly to the meeting. To prevent this, you can either reward the people coming in on time or discourage people coming in late. This can be done by calling them out regularly or confronting them in front of the whole team. Keeping strict decorum in the scrum meeting can be the key to efficiency.
6. Keep It Consistent
If you are running daily scrum meetings, ensure that they're consistently held daily. Keeping daily sessions makes for consistent communication. It also helps maintain a constant track of the performance of the team and the work. If these meetings are inconsistent, there could be minor issues that might be overlooked. These minor issues can snowball into more significant problems affecting the project's success. It is essential to keep consistency at the forefront to have an aligned road map.
7. Set Up Rules For The Meeting
To keep the meeting effective, it is vital to set up rules. Some of the rules that you can abide by are as follows:
- Only one person should be allowed to speak at a time
- The person speaking should stick to the topic
- In case the person is going off-topic, the ScrumMaster can interrupt them to bring them back on track
- If stakeholders join the meeting, their questions should be reserved until after the session is over
- If the stakeholder has questions or concerns, they should be told to the ScrumMaster, which will then be conveyed to the team
8. Don't Make The Scrummaster The Center Of Attention
Although ScrumMaster leads the meeting, it is essential to communicate with the entire team and not the ScrumMaster exclusively. If you feel that the focus is on talking to you, the ScrumMaster will step away from the circle and force the team to communicate amongst themselves. Doing this can improve the effectiveness of your meeting.
9. Tech-Free Zone
In this day and age, entering a meeting room without a laptop is almost an alien thought. This is especially prevalent in tech companies. Scrum meetings are a strictly no-tech zone. Team members are prohibited from bringing their laptops and phones into the meeting room.
This is because team members can quickly lose focus on the task at hand due to their devices. Keeping tech out of the room makes it easier for the meeting to stay on track and be concluded quickly. It also ensures that the team is attentive during the meeting and is communicating with each other.
10. Remote Workers Should Be Involved
"Technology now allows people to connect anytime, anywhere, to anyone in the world, from almost any device. This is dramatically changing the way people work, facilitating 24/7 collaboration with colleagues who are dispersed across time zones, countries, and continents. "— Michael Dell, CEO at Dell Technologies
If you work out the logistics and cater to time zones, it is advised to get employees working remotely into the daily scrum meetings online. This improves the team members' motivation and aligns the tasks of both physical and remote teams while creating guidelines on how to go about them.
11. Specify Who Can Speak And When
When a scrum meeting is ongoing, one person should speak at one time. They should be allowed to speak freely unless they talk about something irrelevant. In such cases, team members create a keyword, such as 'rat hole,' to indicate that the person isn't staying on topic.
However, allowing everyone the chance to speak without getting interrupted ensures that there are no miscommunications. Furthermore, only team members and the ScrumMaster should speak during daily stand-up meetings.
Stakeholders can attend, but if they have an issue, they should discuss it with the appointed ScrumMaster after the end of the session. If people other than the relevant team members speak, the meeting is bound to get off-topic, running longer than necessary. If there is an important message from the stakeholder to share, you can do so in the next meeting.
How A Scrum Meeting Works
According to a study, 71% of companies are adopting an agile methodology in their workplace (2). A scrum meeting has no set way of being conducted, but the primary purpose of the meeting remains constant.
The agile methodology devises sprints for team members based on the product backlog. This sprint is stretched over 2 to 4 weeks. Once the sprint period is ended, ideally, the project will discover new functionalities. These functionalities will be used to review the sprint for each employee.
Once the review is done, the results are adjusted into the product backlog, and newsprint is devised. This process is repeated until the project reaches completion. The scrum meeting is in place to ensure that the team members' progress is being tracked and ensure that the project is on its way towards completion
This may sound like a lot to digest. Here is an infographic that will allow you to understand this process's road map easily.
A scrum meeting can be precisely what your agile workflow needs if done the right way. It might seem daunting to have a meeting every single day, but since they are short and straight to the point, it encourages team members to get their tasks done in time and always be aware of their functions.
This gives them a clear line of what needs to be done. Moreover, this ensures that they are on top of their tasks on any given day. Essentially, a daily scrum meeting confirms that team members are not aimlessly doing a task or are unsure what they need to do.
The basis of scrum meetings is communication, so it is advised to keep them in the same place and at the same time, with team members physically present. Communication is vital, and as the world moves towards automation, scrum meetings are not something you can leave behind. 86% of workers believe that the cause of failure in an organization is lack of communication (3).
Otter.ai allows organizations to easily extract data from important voice conversations into accessible and actionable information. Since scrum meetings are tech-free, Otter.ai will enable teams to conduct their scrum meetings while the solution deals with the transcription. This will eliminate the need for someone to take meeting minutes, and the team can solely focus on the scrum. Visit Otter.ai to learn more about this solution and how it can help automate your operations