Overview with tools, software, best practices and alternatives

What is a Virtual Stand-up meeting?

Worldwide connectivity has given rise to the telecommuter, also called the home based office personnel, or virtual worker. And a team of randomly located individual telecommuters will then comprise a remote working team. This randomness that is inherent to remote working teams pose the significant challenge to organizing Scrum-style meetings. But Internet technology at its best delivers, and so now there are Scrum and Kanban style meetings in virtual environments that meets the communication challenges posed by the randomness element that remote workers possess. This Internet enabled virtual daily stand-ups shows what remote team members has done, will do, and their hang-ups in much the same way that real face to face daily stand-up meetings does. A great variety of collaboration tools abound in the Internet and they all help in the establishment of an efficient virtual daily stand-up meeting practice. Virtual daily stand-ups enable even the remotest worker of a project team to be on the same page as every member of a project team. This enabling is accomplished by computer software and hardware tools that range from email based applications to complete virtual stand-up processes that has videos, voices, file sharings ( may be composed of PowerPoints presentations, Word documents, Excels etc.) joint web browsing, and presentations. With all the technology and innovation that abounds in the practice of different virtual daily stand-up meetings versions, one can indeed say that it is a form of art.

One particular area of interest in the practice of a virtual daily stand-up is that an aura of being in the same room can be created by multi-media practitioners of virtual daily stand-ups through the use of collaboration softwares which has great variety of interactive options. Team members can participate from anywhere and at anytime and receive and experience the same motivational directives that another team member, who is actually in the same room, receives and experiences.

Who does Virtual Stand-up Meetings and Why?

Project managers who manage teams of remote workers often make use of the powerful incentives that project team collaboration tools possesses. They constantly update their systems in order to provide the best collaboration efforts between members. Being constantly in touch with fellow team members, be it in email or videochat or voice, can have a powerful impact in a remote worker’s work patterns, enhancing his productivity by the information and inspiration that the constant communication channels of a virtual daily stand-up provides. Along with this idea is the fostering of good team spirits inspite of members being in a distributed environment.

How to conduct Virtual Stand-up meetings?

Foremost to doing a virtual daily stand-up meeting, a high level of mutual understanding between team members must first be established. Different time zones, for example, necessitate adjustments on every member of the team. This is a concept known as “pain sharing”, where every team member adjusts and not just the ones who are on the too early or too late time zones. A good level of mutual understanding between team members enhances their commitment towards the common goal of company objectives. Then, the hard part of putting the hardware and software team collaboration tools in place are implemented. No virtual daily stand-up meeting is a stand-up meeting when the communication and collaboration tools implemented are of poor design and built. A tool for a virtual daily stand-up must pass high quality standards before being used for virtual daily stand-ups.

Advantages of conducting Virtual Daily Stand-up meetings

Another primeval aspect of virtual daily stand-up meetings is its allotment of time to team members for them to fulfill other work commitments beside his or her own particular assignments. A team member who can have the extra time to work on related tasks besides his own is indeed a powerful feature of virtual daily stand-ups. For team members can then have their say on matters not just their own but on those that may possibly affect them as well ,and this vastly reduces the time that would be spent on remedial actions later when the problem crops up.

Disadvantages of Virtual Daily stand-up meetings

A basic principle of the Agile development process states that the best form of information exchange between team members is face to face exchanges. Some forms of virtual daily stand-up meetings does incapacitate this principle by conducting meetings relegated to information and opinion exchanges but then excluding the face to face meetings.

Best ways of practicing Virtual Stand-up meetings

Several issues needs to be clarified for the best results in a virtual daily stand-up meeting. “Pain Sharing” should be practiced by all team members. This fosters good team building and facilitates the building of trust and rapport between members. Wise choice of communication models also play a big part in obtaining the best virtual daily stand-up meeting practice. Everyone should have knowledge on all the essential aspects of the virtual daily stand-up in place such as information criteria, communication models, time zone adjustments, technical knowledge of the collaboration tool, and even the personalities of each team member.

Teamreporter – a great tool for Virtual Stand-up meetings

Teamreporter envisage stand-up meetings as essential team communication models, team spirit fostering activities, and as important project tracking tools . Teamreporter is a web based email application that contains all the necessary tools for conducting an email version of a virtual daily stand-up meeting. Teamreporter captures the essence of a standard virtual daily stand-up meeting and yet is compact and simple as to enable project managers to seamlessly integrate project plans into the team status updating capabilities of Teamreporter. Operation wise, even a novice remote worker can understand the ways of using Teamreporter such as:

  • Creating questions that the Team members will answer.
  • Scheduling the sending out of email queries.
  • Scheduling of Team 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

Alternatives to Virtual stand-up meetings

Alternatively, project teams can make use of more costly virtual stand-up meeting tools that make use of Videophone conferencing or combined email and Videochats virtual stand-ups. These choices provide excellent coverage of team members’ status updates and indeed nothing beats a real time face to face conversation of project team members, but cost-effectivity wise, a web based email app such as Teamreporter may just do the trick.

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