How To Run Effective Standup Meetings For Remote Teams
Running effective standup meetings for remote teams is crucial for the success and completion of a project.
The scrum meeting's core idea is sharing what has been achieved, what needs to be done, and if anything is blocking the progress.
Gitlab, the world’s largest all-remote company with over 1,300 members in 65+ countries, is an epitome of a highly efficient remote team. They run Asynchronous engineering standup meetings to keep track of their progress. Since Gitlab operates primarily async, they use Slack channels and Slack Standup Bots to communicate effectively.
Mautic, the world's only open marketing cloud, uses scrum bots like Troopr to conduct their daily standup meetings. They even use Slack with their forums where people post support requests, ideas, and questions.
Here are some ways that can make your scrum meetings short and effective.
- Decide the Mode of Standup Meeting
- Use a standard set of Daily Standup Questions
- Keep it short
- Ensure participation among remote team members
- Have a proper audio-video setup
- Share Updates
Decide the Mode of Standup Meeting
What is the most essential thing to run effective scrum meetings?
Deciding the mode of the standup meeting your remote team should adopt.
Broadly speaking, there are two modes:
1. Synchronous Communication
2. Asynchronous Communication
“How do I decide the best mode for my remote team?”, you might ask.
That is quite simple.
It all depends on the location of your remote team members.
Asynchronous Standup Meetings
It is the best option for remote teams that are distributed across multiple time zones to go for Asynchronous Standups.
How can you do that?
1. Choose a channel
The first step is to choose a channel to run your daily scrum meetings. Again, there are many options in the market. Go for the one which is trusted by most remote teams around the world like Slack.
2. Automate your standups
If you want your daily standups to be effective, use a standup bot like Troopr to automate your meetings.
The scrum bot will save your time and energy, which you can use on more important tasks.
What will Slack bots do?
i) It sends team members standup notifications based on their respective time zones.
ii) It gives an effective, data-driven report of the meetings.
iii) It allows you to view the history of your standups
iv) Users can answer the standup questions when it is convenient for them.
v) You can receive standup summaries via email.
Synchronous Standup Meetings
If your team members are located in the same time zone, you should go for Synchronous Standups.
The best way to run Synchronous standups is through video conferencing.
1. Choose a tool for video conferencing
There are many video conferencing tools out there. Go for the one with reliable screen sharing and video quality like Zoom and Microsoft teams.
2. Happen every day at the same time
The video standups should take place at the same time every day. It is generally a good idea to have the meeting at the start of the day so that everyone knows what the day holds. It can also help strengthen its ritual power.
3. Assign a weekly meeting lead
The daily standup should have a leader in to run the meeting smoothly and in an orderly manner.
4. Keep it focused
A common pitfall in video meetings is that sometimes members tend to deviate from the work and diverge into sidebar conversations. It is the responsibility of the meeting lead to keep the standup focused on important issues.
5. Use Parking Lot Technique
Companies like Hotjar use the Parking lot technique in which they hold meetings that serve as outlets for sidebar conversations. It is vital to give your team time and space for the much-needed human connection. Then they will be less likely to go off topic during standups.
Mix it up
Although many remotes shift to asynchronous meetings, a few of them use video meetings weekly.
According to Gitlab, “A strategic balance between synchronous and asynchronous communication is useful for achieving maximum efficiency.”
These video calls’ primary focus could be building relationships and growing a great team culture or discussing ideas in a detailed manner.
Teams also use Slack Standups for video meeting preparation. This allows the team to focus on the most critical tasks during the video conference.
Use a Standard Set of Daily Standup Questions
To make the standup meetings effective, it is important to use a standard set of daily scrum questions in the scrum guide.
Regardless of whether you are adopting asynchronous or synchronous mode, the best scrum meetings consist of members answering a standard set of questions.
The team members already know what information they are expected to share. So, they can prepare accordingly.
There are three traditional scrum questions:
1. What did I do yesterday?
Team members share what they accomplish since the last scrum meeting. Members should focus on deliverables, which helps the team to get closer to their goal.
2. What are my plans for today?
Members share their plans and goals for that day. This helps the team understand the work that is still left.
It is important to keep the sprint goal in mind while answering this question so that everyone remains on track.
3. Are there any obstacles?
If you are facing any problems regarding the project, your team members should know about it asap. These are the problems that can halt your team’s velocity and progress.
These three daily scrums are great and cover all the crucial points. But if you want you to add questions pertaining to your team, you can create custom questions.
Keep it short
A standup meeting, be it in-person or online, should always take no longer than 15 minutes. The plan is to synchronize with the members instead of running long discussions.
If your team is taking longer than 15 minutes for daily standups, then there is some problem.
Your team members might be unprepared for the meeting.
They might not be clearly conveying the updates.
They are discussing things in too much detail.
Or your team might be large.
You need to find out what the problem with the standup meeting is and solve it soon.
If something comes up during daily standups that need to be discussed, hold a separate meeting.
Ensure Participation Among Remote Team Members
The success or failure of any standup meeting depends on the team members’ participation.
The primary objective of daily scrum meetings to keep everybody in loop about the project.
If team members do not engage properly, the entire purpose of these meetings is lost.
If your team members aren’t engaging, try to understand the reason behind it.
Is it due to poor audio-video setup?
Is it due to the time zone differences?
Once you know the reason, discuss it with your team and find a solution that works for everyone.
Have a proper audio-video setup
Sometimes the lack of participation in the meeting is due to poor audio-video setup.
It also creates a lot of misunderstandings among the team. If you can’t hear what others are talking about, you will not know what they are working on.
You tend to lose important details which you might need to know about your work.
Every remote team needs a proper audio-video setup to run effective standups. You do not want to waste time on troubleshooting during the meeting.
Whatever tool you use, make sure it works for all the team members.
Sharing updates discussed during standup meetings need to be shared with the entire team.
It is especially needed for people who missed the meeting due to some reason. They need to know the updates in order to stay well-aligned.
In remote teams, the audio-video issues cause people to miss information.
If you face trouble capturing updates, automate it by using a tool like Troopr. It will collect the information about the meeting and distribute it to the team members.
It will combine everyone’s update in an easy to read format that members can dash off in a minute or two.
Troopr allows you to see the history of standup responses of every team member. It aids managers in tracking the input of team members over time.
Additionally, it helps in assessing the factors that led to the success or failure of a project.
We, at Troopr, use these steps to run effective standup meetings. It has saved a lot of time and effort which we can now focus on more important tasks at hand.