How to Save Time on Daily Standup Meetings [Fixing the #1 Issue]

How to Save Time on Daily Standup Meetings

We spoke to a lot of organizations (Scrum and team leads in particular) when developing Dixi to understand the challenges faced in running the daily standup. While there were many, one seemed to stand out. Here’s a scenario, let us know if it is recognizable:

(names changed for, well, for fun.)

Lucy (team lead), Christina (developer), Eva (developer), Jennifer (developer), Sebastian (developer), James (designer) and Andy (designer) show up at 9:15 for a standup scheduled at 9.

Lucy: Give me an update on what was done yesterday.
Sebastian: Lucy the mobile wallet app had a bug and I was trying to fix it. I found that….
Christina, Eva, Jennifer, James, Andy: Stare in silence
Sebastian: ….. So then I removed the module and replaced it with ……
Christina, Eva, Jennifer, James, Andy: Stare in silence
Sebastian: ……. I spoke to the client they say that feature will need …..
Christina, Eva, Jennifer, James, Andy: Stare in silence

If you haven’t figured it out yet, one major issue faced during stand up meetings is digressing. Now you would think it’s the team lead Lucy’s job to cut Sebastian in the middle and bring the meeting back on track, but that’s easier said than done. Firstly, as the team lead she wants to listen to the problem and assess if it is a major one. Secondly, as the team lead, she has to be considerate and not embarrass Sebastian in front of his peers. What’s the outcome of this scenario? They have an extremely fruitful standup meeting but it ends at 10:30 instead of 9:30 as planned. That’s one extra hour spent (unnecessarily) by seven members of an organization.

Why is this even a problem?

Standups have a specific purpose: to be short and to the point. Why? Because the whole point of a standup meeting is for team leads and team members to quickly sync up and get a sense of where they stand on the project. Doing that is a simple matter of each member telling what was done and what is left to do (if you’re new to the topic consider reading this article: Scrum Meeting Types [All You Need to Know to Run a Successful Sprint]). But as is the case with any gathering, people go off topic and the standup either becomes an unplanned meeting or a fun get-together, both of which result in wasted time.

So how could Lucy have done things differently? Her first problem was she wanted to hear Sebastian out and assess the situation, but that wasted the time of other members who had to wait their turn. Her second problem was the meeting was being conducted in-person so she couldn’t cut Sebastian short. The third problem was everyone was dependent on everyone else, so the meeting started only after the last member arrived.

The solution?

The solution, is what we built, for people exactly like Lucy: a Slack standup bot. The bot lets Lucy select the meeting participants, define the questions they need to specifically answer, and automate the standup. Now the team attends the daily standup on Slack, and here is why it’s the solution to her problem:

   1. The team attends it asynchronously, which means each member attends it on their own and at their own convenience, and their time is not affected by another member. This basically divides the time for their standup by 6 (since there are 6 members in the team).
   2. The meeting has a fixed set of questions which stops the team from digressing. Even if a member does, it doesn’t affect the team.
   3. The meeting is automated so Lucy does not need to manage the meeting or the team during the standup.
   4. She now has a record of every meeting automatically collated and stored.
   5. She’s free to modify the meeting agenda or schedule whenever she wants to.

The productivity of Lucy’s team has shot up, and while we’re not saying it's all because of Dixi, we’re pretty sure a part of the credit goes to Dixi.

You might say well a digital standup is not for us, we prefer to meet in person. We actually have an article that helps you identify if an automated standup is a good fit for you. Check it out: Automated Standups vs Manual Standups – Which One Is Right For You

If you use Slack for communication, Dixi is a must have app for teams. It’s free, so you can try it out without having to worry about providing credit card details or personal information.

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