Saturday, April 25, 2009

Scrum and Stand ups

My organization is currently using Scrum as a development methodology. We recently increased the sprint length to 4 weeks which seems to be a little better than 2 or 3 weeks, but one of the nagging points, for me at least, is the daily standup. Every day we get together and and discuss backlog items and tasks worked on the previous day. The meeting invariably digresses into details or discussions that don’t really pertain to the status or “look at the cool thing I did”. 

As I was listening  to Patrick Hynds discuss Why projects fail on the .Net Rocks podcast, it occurred to me that he had some valid points on tracking status and more over those principals could be applied directly to the daily standup. The general point of the daily standup is to know where you are in relation to the project schedule and what is getting in the way of the schedule. Pat’s status points where:

  1. What Task/Tasks did you work on yesterday?
  2. What Task/Tasks did you work on yesterday that were not part of a backlog?
  3. What do you plan to work on today?
  4. What Roadblocks do you have?

These questions should be answered without any additional details or ego pumping. The second question is one we don’t ask in our stand-ups, but it occurs on a daily basis and should be addressed. It definitely distracts from the planned backlog items and has a huge impact on what’s accomplished during a sprint.

Using this question format during the standup should allow us to better gauge were we are and what distractions are keeping us from achieving our sprint objectives.

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