The What, Why, Who, Where and How of Standups

Insights | 10 December 2019

The daily standup (or daily scrum) is becoming a regular event for teams in many projects. Standups are an integral part of agile teams. As a project manager are you conversant with the conventions of a standup? What is your role (if any) in a standup?

What is a Standup?

A standup is a short collaborative team meeting to assess progress. It typically is timeboxed to 15 minutes, with team members answering the following questions in iteration-based agile:

  1. What I did yesterday (reviews progress from previous day)
  2. What I am doing today (declares intentions for current day)
  3. Any obstacles/impediments (highlights any risks or problems encountered)

A standup may be referred to as a daily scrum or daily standup.

Standups have their origins in the Lean practice of Short Interval Management (SIM) where shop floor team members meet regularly to assess whether they are on track.

Why have Standups?

The standup provides an opportunity for team members to share information and to raise any issues that could block progress. It promotes collaboration, transparency, accountability and quick decision making. Standups enable the team to self-organise and hold each other accountable for completing work committed to on the day before and throughout the timebox/sprint.

Why ‘Standup’?

The standup is literally held with team members standing (not sitting). The idea is to focus the team on where they are at in their work, and if there are any obstacles that may block progress. It is not about getting comfortable and settling in…

Who should attend a Standup?

The standup is for the team. In effect, anyone who has a task on the team board should attend the daily standup. The project manager may be invited to attend as an observer to understand progress and, as appropriate, deal with escalated issues.

Who organises a Standup?

Team members are responsible for organising and running the daily standup. Anyone in the team can facilitate a standup. It is scheduled at the same time and location each day.

Where to Standup?

It is recommended that a daily stand-up is held by the team board/Kanban board as this enables the board to be updated immediately with progress.

What happens after the Standup?

An ‘after party’ may be held after the standup for those interested to discuss any issues raised and to re-plan or adapt the remaining work if required.

And the bottom line…

Standups are NOT about solving problems – standups are for realising there are problems. A ‘parking lot’ for issues can be used to ‘park’ issues for review outside of the standup.

Standups are NOT status meetings. A standup is NOT about the team reporting to the project manager. The standup is run by the team for the team to make commitments to each other.

About The Author

Tracey Copland, Head of Best Practice at PM-Partners group

Tracey has been involved in management, finance and business consulting including Portfolio, Programme & Project management for 20+ years. Together with her skills and experience, Tracey is a flexible professional seeking to achieve a high work standard, focussing on value-add.

Having been with PM-Partners group for 15 years, Tracey has held roles including Consultant/Trainer, Head of Training and currently, Head of Development. Tracey has provided training and consultation services to clients in both the public and private sectors, across various disciplines and at all levels including Project, Programme, Portfolio and Change Management, and Agile practices.

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