Daily Scrum: Best Practices and Pitfalls to Avoid

by Jasmin Iordanidis, Product Marketing Manager

14 May 2021

By now, you’re pretty familiar with Scrum. It’s given your team a framework they can work with to achieve internal goals so they can deliver quality software to customers. But, you can always improve your Scrum practices to continue to delight your customers. 😁 One of these is the daily Scrum — a practice that sounds straightforward, but is easy to mismanage (more on this soon 😉).

The daily Scrum consists of three elements — Scrum roles, Scrum artifacts, and Scrum events.

In this article, we'll show you how these components fit into the all-important daily Scrum meeting, provide some tips to keep your daily Scrum running smoothly, and discuss what traps to avoid so that your team is always on task. We'll also point you towards resources that will get you proficient in the other elements of agile. Our goal, as always, is to make you an agile pro. 🏄🏽‍♀️

What is the daily Scrum meeting?

Let's do a quick recap of each of them before we dive into the daily Scrum:

  • Scrum roles: These are the product owner, the Scrum master, and the development team. These Scrum team members work together as a unit to achieve their goals.
  • Scrum artifacts: Artifacts include the product backlog, the sprint backlog, and the increment. The artifacts represent information to the team that enables them to have transparent views against which to measure their progress.
  • Scrum events: The sprint, sprint planning, daily Scrum, sprint review, and sprint retrospective give the team an opportunity to meet and refine any of the Scrum artifacts that need adjusting to keep the team's goals within view.

The daily Scrum is a meeting between team members to discuss its current sprint progress. It's time to discover if any adjustments to the sprint or the product backlog need to be made in order to achieve its sprint goal.

Let's start with who's involved in the daily Scrum meeting.

Development team

The development team members are the main participants in the daily Scrum. During the meeting, they report on their progress towards the sprint goal to discover if any adjustments need to be made. They can do this by each answering three questions:

  • What did I work on yesterday towards the sprint goal?
  • How do I plan on working towards the sprint goal today?
  • ​Is there anything preventing me from finishing what I am working on?

By doing so, everyone on the team is in the loop of the full team's progress. The answers to these questions also allow the team to uncover any blockers and adjust the sprint backlog accordingly. An example of a blocker may be a bug that prevents one developer from finishing her assigned user story in the sprint.

Scrum master and product owner

In traditional Scrum, the Scrum master and product owner aren’t active participants — and aren’t technically required — in the daily Scrum meeting since they don’t do the development work that will achieve the sprint goal. However, they can still be valuable meeting participants. It’s up to the Scrum team to decide if they should attend.

  • The product owner can lead the way in adjusting the sprint's backlog items. For example, the bug that is blocking other work can be moved so it gets fixed in time to keep the sprint goal within reach.
  • The Scrum master can make sure that daily Scrum best practices are being followed and that the team is avoiding some of the common pitfalls that betray the objectives of the daily Scrum meeting. Let's look at those next.

What's the difference between daily Scrum and daily standup?

Sometimes, it can be confusing to tell the differences between the daily Scrum and daily standup — and sometimes the terms are used interchangeably. However, it's worth pointing out the differences between the two.

A daily Scrum is an event that is defined in the Scrum guide. So, then what is daily stand-up, and how is it different? 🤔

A daily stand-up is a daily meeting whose objective is to provide team members progress towards a common goal. However, it is less restrictive in terms of its participants and time limits. In other words, team members outside of the Scrum team can participate and the meeting can run longer than 15 minutes. For example, a company may conduct a daily stand-up that includes its entire staff or a particular department whose progress updates are not limited to the development of software.

Daily Scrum best practices

So, what are the best practices for conducting your daily Scrum meetings effectively?

  • Complete the daily Scrum in a time-box. A 15-minute time frame is most commonly used to ensure that the team stays focused and on point. After all, team members only need to answer their three questions succinctly and effectively.
  • Conduct the meeting at the same time and place every day. This will provide a level of consistency and regularity and will help foster the Scrum values of commitment and focus.
  • Include the same team members in each daily Scrum meeting. If you have a rotating cast of characters, then you run the risk of disruptions. Some people in the meeting will likely be missing context from prior meetings and will need to be updated.

Daily Scrum pitfalls

There are tempting activities to avoid while conducting your daily Scrum meeting. These are some of the common pitfalls to avoid:

  • Using the meeting as a status update to the product owner, Scrum master, or other stakeholders. The main objective of this meeting is for the development team to answer their three questions so that they can make any needed adjustments to keep the sprint goal intact. It should not be used as a status meeting for developers to report on the progress of their work.
  • Turning it into a problem-solving session to resolve any blocks that are discussed in the meeting within the 15-minute time frame. One thing will undoubtedly happen if the team attempts this — the meeting will run too long! The Scrum master should advise the team to stay on task during the meeting and defer these problem-solving attempts to time outside of the daily Scrum meeting.
  • Focusing on a task board as a means to tracking progress. The daily Scrum meeting is a time for discussion. If the team is staring at a task board, it's wasting valuable time by focusing on the status of tasks and not on talking about making adjustments to its work.

Master daily Scrum and become an agile pro

GIF of Moira Rose from Schitts Creek

At Easy Agile, we provide products to manage all of your Scrum events. We are passionate about making agile accessible and easy to understand for its participants. In addition to our products, we love to provide resources so you can level up your agile game 💪. Check out our blog and our podcast to become an agile pro!

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