Have you ever been to a Daily Scrum meeting which took more than 15 minutes? I am not speaking here about 20-30 minutes meetings but much longer ones. Mostly those daily meetings are detested by Developers. They are long and unproductive (I have seen “stand-ups” which took more than one hour). Assuming that people’s daily productivity cycle lasts about 5 hours, Daily Scrum takes 20% of that time which is really frustrating. Especially when deadlines are close.
In this article below we will focus on most crucial and common mistakes that make Daily Scrum ineffective.
Lack of Sprint Goal
Does every Sprint has a clear Sprint Goal? If there’s no goal there’s no point in Sprint. The same with Daily Scrum. There are three standard questions suggested by a Scrum Guide that are put on a Daily Scrum:
- What did I do yesterday to help the Development Team to meet the Sprint Goal?
- What I will do today to help the Development Team to meet the Sprint Goal?
- Are there any impediments preventing me or my Development Team from meeting the Sprint Goal?
As you can see all three questions are put to define a Sprint Goal. If the entire team works for a defined clear goal there is no need in extra discussions.
If you face a problem with defining a clear goal for your team there are few mandatory questions to be asked:
- Is the product management strategy effective?
- Is the number of people in your team not too large?
Lack of Backlog Refinement
During the Sprint Scrum Team spend 10% of its time on refining the Product Backlog and to prepare requirements for the next Sprint. The next common reason for a prolonged Daily Scrum is insufficient informing of team members. The absence of clarified requirements leads to numerous questions regarding work that has to be done on a daily basis.
Insufficient informing can’t be eliminated completely by good Backlog Refinement. Our task is to minimize the risk of unknown while we still have time. If we are doing it a week before working on particular requirement starts there is plenty of time to answer all the questions. What is more important there is time to find the right person to address those questions. An important thing to keep in mind is that work should not be chaotic. It should be effective and result-driven.
People often make excuses for not doing Backlog Refinement saying there is no time for for that during the Sprint. The real reason for not doing it is that they have never done it before so they do not have time to do it right now.
Plans are nothing but planning is everything ~ Dwight David “Ike” Eisenhower.
Is your Sprint Planning efficient enough? Do you think you spend enough time on planning? Can you answer following questions?
- What result do we want to receive in the end of the Sprint? What will be the visible change in our product in the end of the Sprint?
- How do we want to achieve it?
- Why do we do it? What is the business goal?
An efficient plan should be elaborated during Sprint Planning otherwise you will have to totally change the plan during the Sprint itself at every Daily Scrum meetings. Of course planning could minimize the risk but never eliminate it totally. It is not the problem when plans are adjusted during Daily Scrum but it might be a problem when you have to totally change them everyday.
Lack of Sprint Goal, Lack of Backlog Refinement, Insufficient planning. From these three examples of common mistakes it is visible how a Daily Scrum can cease to retain its quality. I do not claim that those factors are the only possible ones. However resolving these three pivotal factors multiplies your chances to have a resolving and effective Daily Scrum.
A notion to remember when facing a Daily Scrum problem is not to attempt to “heal” it with express methods like setting the time countdown at every Daily Scrum but to search for the root cause instead.
Experience shows that in most cases the legitimate reasons for all those issues are lack of process understanding and inefficient methods usage. I suggest you to answer a following question: Is every team member informed well enough about what the goal of a Daily Scrum meetings is and why does it look like that?