Agile Management and the Daily Scrum Meeting - dummies

Agile Management and the Daily Scrum Meeting

By Mark C. Layton

Agile development teams start each workday with a daily scrum meeting to note completed items, to identify impediments, or roadblocks, requiring scrum master involvement, and to plan their day. In the daily scrum (also called the daily huddle or daily standup), each development team member makes the following three statements:

  • Yesterday, I completed [state items completed].

  • Today, I’m going to take on [state task].

  • My impediments are [state impediments, if any].

The daily scrum is Stage 5 on the Roadmap to Value. The sprint and the daily scrum repeat throughout an agile project as shown:


One of the rules of scrum is that daily scrum meetings last 15 minutes or less. Meetings that last longer eat into the development team’s day. To keep daily scrums brief and effective, use these guidelines:

  • Anyone may attend a daily scrum, but only the development team, the scrum master, and the product owner may talk. Stakeholders can discuss questions with the scrum master or product owner afterward, but stakeholders should not approach the development team.

  • Focus on immediate priorities. The scrum team should review only completed tasks, tasks to be done, and roadblocks.

  • Use the meeting for coordination, not problem-solving. The development team and the scrum master are responsible for removing roadblocks during the day.

  • To keep meetings from drifting into problem-solving sessions, scrum teams can

    • Keep a list on a white board to keep track of issues that need immediate attention, and then address those issues directly after the meeting.

    • Hold a meeting, called an after-party, to solve problems when the daily scrum is finished. Some scrum teams schedule time for an after-party every day; others only meet as needed.

  • The daily scrum is for peer-to-peer coordination. Save status reports for the sprint backlog.

  • With such a short meeting, you need to start on time. You may want to institute creative punishments for tardiness such as doing pushups or adding penalty money into a team celebration fund. Be sure to make the punishment a real deterrent.

  • The scrum team may request that daily scrum attendees stand up — rather than sit down — during the meeting. Standing up makes people eager to finish the meeting and get on with the day’s work.

Daily scrum meetings are effective for keeping the development team focused on the right tasks for any given day. Because the development team members are accountable for their work in front of their peers, they are less likely to stray from their daily commitments. Daily scrum meetings also help ensure that the scrum master and development team can deal with roadblocks immediately.