Overview with tools, software, best practices and alternatives

What is a daily stand up?

In corporate offices all over the world, team leaders employ a technique for the enhancement of the teams productivity and the general well feeling of workers in the workplace. These development techniques require their personnel to stand up, and so they are called daily standup meetings.

Daily stand-ups are divided into two main kinds. One is the Scrum style daily stand-up and the other is the Kanban style daily stand-up. They differ in the questions that are used to address the attendees in their submission of reports by oral recitation in front of the whole team.

Daily stand-ups are designed to be very short. The discomfort of standing up in the process of the meeting necessitates a very short duration for the meeting – 5 to 15 minutes at most. In this very short timeframe, team members are expected to come up with reports on their current status in the best coverage that they can give. Usually participants answer questions of the type: “What have I accomplished?”, “What will I do today?” and “What obstacles are impeding my progress?”. These questions attempt to summarize the work efforts of the individual team members in the shortest albeit most meaningful way.

After the individual team member’s short reports, the project manager then goes on into the overview of the team’s project status, where key issues may then be brought to the front of the team, and properly discussed and addressed leading to the decision making process of those in charge.

Daily stand-ups are recommended to be done in the morning, leading to the term morning meetings when project teams do their Scrums early in the day. The rationale for this is that, mornings figure in a working man’s day as the time where he is at his peak mentally, emotionally and physically.

Who does daily stand-ups and why?

Project teams commit their time on daily stand-ups in order to have status updates on individual workers and to improve the communication and exchange of mental inputs from the members of the project team. Team members each have their own unique ideas to share, that being from the fact that a typical project team is comprised of specialist team members who have specific assignments covering their own specialties.

Accounting members of the project team could voice out their status to the team and so enlighten the whole team on the financial situation of the project. The same with the technical, computers and other assignments, each enlightening the others on one’s own particular situation.

In the shortest possible time, project teams could learn new insights on how to effectively deal with outcropping issues by the use of daily stand-ups.

How to do daily stand-ups

There is a fixed method of setting up daily stand-ups, but each company employing stand-ups for their team’s productivity enhancement can create their own unique versions that would suit their own team’s needs.

The fixed method comprises of the following steps:

  • A fixed schedule, same time each day, is first set up for the whole team to participate in. Every member of the team is required to attend, with penalties and sanctions for those who wouldn’t attend. The time schedules of every team member are studied and from that a compatible time slot may be chosen.
  • With everyone in attendance, they are then required to stand up at the very start of the meeting. This will make the meeting short and to the point, avoiding unnecessary conversations and exchanges that may develop if the participants had been sitting down.
  • Within the short timeframe of 5 – 15 minutes, participants are required to provide a status of their own assignments, following the format: “What have I accomplished?”, “What will I accomplish?”, “What are the obstacles impeding my progress?”

Advantages and disadvantages of daily stand-ups

Daily stand-ups provide a daily monitoring of the project, keeping everyone on the team updated and aware of developing circumstances within the project’s working scenario. Probable problematic issues are addressed in time, preventing their development into serious obstacles that would impede the project’s progress.

The meetings done by daily stand-ups also promote and enhance good communication between all the members of the team. Team members are made aware of each other’s circumstances and this begets understanding and rapport between all the members of the team. With better understanding comes better cooperation and collaboration in the project work.

On the negative side, daily stand-ups (the real daily stand-ups, not the virtuals) necessitate some degree of preparation that can be a hassle to team members, most especially in the case of remote working teams. Preparing for a meeting requires travelling and suiting up, when meetings require formal suits. This could take valuable time taken from work and from family and friends, resulting into the lesser emotional well-being of the team member, thus lower productivity.

On the management aspect, micromanagement could get into the practice of daily stand-ups, with incompetent managers getting to ask about particulars of a team member’s assignment instead of trusting the team with their own set of responsibilities. Micromanagement breeds contempt of superiors, resulting into the practice of blame shifting from the member to the manager.

Best practices in doing daily stand-ups

In doing daily stand-ups, the project manager, who is also the Scrum master for the team, has to ensure the focus to a subject in the meeting. The role of the project manager in the project’s progress is to steer it into the general direction of project completion and the fulfilment of company and client requirements. Particulars are best left to the technical expertises of the individual team members. A manager has no business engaging in technical details except in cases where it might develop into a major issue that would drastically affect the project’s progress.

Teamreporter helps with daily stand-up meetings

Teamreporter is a web based email application that is used by project teams, especially remote working teams, to keep them posted on the latest developments surrounding the project work. The team gets updated by email reports done by the team members submitting intermediary reports which are then summarized and put into an overview of the project status by the project manager with the help of Teamreporter. Teamreporter operates by:

  • Creating questions that the team members will answer.
  • Tailoring the questions to be asked to fit project needs
  • Scheduling the sending out of email queries.
  • Team members replying with their status reports.
  • Upon receiving individual team member reports,scheduling of overall status updates to every team member.
  • Adopting preset business scenarios.
  • Prompting team members who forget their reports.
  • Arranging an archive of team status reports

It has the following advantages:

  • Ready in 5 minutes
  • Free startup
  • Accessible even to novice users and managers
  • No IT software or hardware requirements
  • Only email login required for team members

With this tool ( Teamreporter), status meetings can be better undertaken.

Alternatives to daily stand-ups

Alternatively, project teams could get better acquainted with each member of their team and also with the project itself with the use of tools and devices that take the place of a standard daily stand-up meeting. Such tools as email reports give better coverage of project data and yet take much lesser time into the preparation.

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Teamreporter is free for small teams (up to 4 members)