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What are the pros and cons of using Daily Stand-ups? Positive sides of the Daily Scrum I see, but I can't find negatives.

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    Welcome to PMSE! Opinion polls are off-topic on Stack Exchange. If your question is closed, you can continue to edit it so that it fits our guidelines and can be re-opened by the community. – Todd A. Jacobs Dec 3 '15 at 22:59
  • Denny, this question would be a better fit for the site if you asked about a problem you've seen in your stand-ups. – Mark Phillips Dec 9 '15 at 10:21
  • Please revise the question to address practical problems in project management as described in How to Ask. Avoid open ended poll questions. – MCW Dec 9 '15 at 12:01
  • Several years later, this question is still list-generating, but at least now we've removed the explicit opinion poll. :) – Todd A. Jacobs Sep 30 '20 at 17:51
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There are many articles on out there on the benefits of standups. This one is as good as any I suppose:

http://spin.atomicobject.com/2009/07/07/10-reasons-we-have-daily-stand-up-meetings/

You'll find different answers in different articles but they all boil down to this: keeping your team in sync with each other allows you to address your work more effectively.

Cons are harder to find because there really aren't any disadvantages to good tactical planning. If you search for "challenges" you'll find a little bit. This article addresses some of the more common challenges:

http://www.sitepoint.com/scrum-standup-slowing-down/

If you're wondering if you should have stand ups, the answer is simple. You should. Do they right.

One other point I'd make is that I've heard of cons that actually are the standup shedding light on other problems. If you have someone on so many teams that the total time for all of their standups is cutting too much into their day, the problem is not the standups - they're spread too thin or they don't belong in the standup.

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I am a huge fan of daily stand-ups, but there are some disadvantages:

  • Team members can sometimes wait until the stand-up to communicate important information rather than telling the team immediately.
  • The stand-up can be seen as a replacement for in-sprint planning.
  • The timing of stand-ups can be an area of dispute. This is particularly true if your team has a mixture of early and late starters.
  • Stand-ups can cause disruption in badly arranged open-plan offices.
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Limiting my answer to only practical issues in project management, a daily stand up consumes time.

tl;dr

Assuming that the goal of the stand up is to improve communication, you've got to be very confident that this is the best way to improve communication, and very sure that you're not communicating the wrong message.

The Long Version

Time is one of the key resources on the iron triangle - every hour you spend in a daily stand up has an impact on cost and quality.

My team is an even dozen. If I gave each of them 5 minutes, the total length of the meeting is an hour - that is 12 hours a week that I'm investing in communication rather than in the production of goods and services valuable to our customer.

During that hour, the person speaking and I are fully engaged. Roughly two thirds of the rest of the team is disengaged and playing games on their phones. That isn't just money I'm pouring down the drain, it is a very clear message to my time that I value their work less than I value participation in a group grope. That is a message I'm reluctant to send.

Investing 12 hours of work is significant. I won't do that unless I can guarantee that it is the best way to use that 12 hours. The obvious alternative is that I meet with each of the team members for 10-15 minutes (15x2x12) which is only 6 hours, during which nobody is idle; everyone in the meeting is focused on the meeting. For my team the superior alternative is to have one representative from each of the functions meet to discuss cross functional issues. For my team that is 3 people for 15 minutes - probably 45 minutes.

The tl;dr is that communication is ultimately my job and my responsibility and I believe I can do it more effectively and more efficiently than a stand up.

Aside: And 5 minutes isn't realistic; my experience is that in any group of 10 people, there is at least 1 person who cannot say "hello" within 5 minutes, and at least one other person who has a complex problem that the team cannot resist solving in the meeting - the average is probably closer to 10 minutes than 5.

Second Aside: the true impact is probably even greater - most of my team works on maker time not manager time - a 1 hour interruption in their day will destroy between 90 minutes and 4 hours of productivity.

Third aside: Problems are like crack cocaine - It take tremendous discipline to avoid solving problems at the table. If even one of the 12 people raises a real problem, then I can predict with some confidence that at least 2 of the others will try to solve that problem. That will result in a discussion where we rehash all the simple solutions that we've tried and discarded, and then redefine the problem for the people who aren't involved in it. Everyone has good intentions and wants to be helpful, but is more interested in solving the problem than stewarding time. So I've got a new challenge - I have to shut down discussion of a problem without looking like I don't care about the problem or that I don't value the good intentions of the team. And while I'm doing that I'm still communicating to the disengaged team members that I care more about their presence than their work product and I'm still communicating to my sponsor and stakeholders that I care more about standup than I do about the closure of the project.

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    -1 turning stand ups into 1-1 status reports is not an even trade. This is not good agile practice and isn't good for team communication. I don't believe people can't answer the 3 questions in less than 5 minutes. I run stand ups for a similarly sized team and it took about 15 minutes last time. – Nathan Cooper Dec 19 '15 at 23:57
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    Excellent point s. I am not agile and resist agile. If you have the discipline and will to do agile right, then your points are entirely correct. My experience is that agile is fragile, and that management wants lip service to agile, but won't tolerate things like self organizing teams. They want agile, not that hippie crap. And explaining the concept to management is a fools errand. – MCW Jan 2 '19 at 20:03
  • If your team is averaging more than 30 seconds to answer the three questions, then that's something you'd want to look at in your retrospective, and agree on how to improve that. It sounds like your stand-ups are turning into status-reports! – Toby Speight Jun 21 at 10:38
  • Our teams don't want scrum - our management wants scrumbut, and that's what they'll get. If you re-read what I said, nowhere in there is there any indication that the guy who takes 5 minutes to say "hello", or the team that solves the problem is dissatisfied. Status meetings scratch an organizational itch; they stroke egos. Changing from status meetings to scrum meetings would remove that ego stroke, and that's not going to happen in the real world. Scrum is, for me, a solution in search of a problem. – MCW Jun 21 at 11:00
  • Actually on further reflection, @TobySpeight's comment is one of the things that stops me from adopting scrum. Note that the following is not directed at T. Speight, but I'm always left with the feeling that it is the team members who are deficient, who fall short of scrum. The process would work, if only we had employees virtuous enough. Rather intimidating in a zealous sort of way. – MCW Jun 21 at 12:23
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There are many blog posts (such as this one) which discusses the "pros" of having daily standups. So I'll focus on the "cons".

But first things first:

I really liked @Barnaby Golden's answer, especially the first two points. Using daily standups as a "silver-bullet" to make sure there's a minimal communication (context-sharing) within the team is problematic to say the least.

I think that the example that @Mark C. Wallace gave, shows greatly how forcing agile on a non-agile team (it's almost impossible for a team of this size to be agile, unless it works as a "cluster" of smaller teams...) makes the situation worse, and I'll explain:

IMO the purpose of daily standups is to communicate between people that their work depends on one another. It's very rare that 12 people are working simultaneously on the same project and each one of them needs all (or even most of) the others on a day to day basis.

When we have 2-3 people that work on the same project and they need each other to sync, agree on interfaces (method signatures, REST APIs etc) it might make sense to set a dedicated time for them to sync. Especially if they work from different offices or even different timezones.

From my experience, even if all 12 participants answer very quickly the famous 3 questions:

  • what did you do today
  • what will you do tomorrow
  • anything that needs attention (e.g. do you have any blockers?)

it will still be a waste of 15-30 minutes. Multiply it by the number of participants (assumed 12) and we get about 3-6 hours of engineering work lost every day. This means losing ~100-200 hours every month...

The sad truth is that the only person that benefits from these meetings is the team-leader (it saves them time). Note that these questions provide the status of your progress and hence are also called "daily status" in many places.

I used to work in a team that grew to ~20 members before it splat into smaller teams. If I'll start describing the waste of time that these kind of meetings cost - it will require a dedicated post... The only good thing in these meetings was that we really did "stand-up" which meant that people would feel inconvenient and start shifting their weight from one leg to another around 5-10 minutes into the meeting, which (not all the time) helped in making these meetings shorter...

When we had weekly status meetings they were also a waste of time (IMO) simply because you're not interested listening to details about the work of (at least) ~80-90% of the other people in the team. The effect was that people were mostly working on their laptops and not paying attention, which resulted many times in "sorry I wasn't listening, can you please repeat the question"...

But I'm diverging so let's go back to discussing dailys.

When I worked at Netflix, the company who's only rule is that there are no rules, we called a meeting only when there was a good reason to have these people in the same room. The meetings were very focused, over 90% of them were under 30 minutes. We tried very hard to be conscious of other people's time.

And last, answering these 3 questions feel to me like the team-leader tries to micro-manage their engineers. Since the job that we're doing requires a composition of intelligence and creativeness there are days when I'm "super-productive" and others when I'm "kicking around" answering emails, do meetings, review PRs, do interviews and other stuff that don't necessarily show "progress" on my day-to-day tasks. If my manager wants "status" I think that once a week is more than enough, sometimes even once every two weeks suffices (TBH, we can provide status via Jira/email/slack - it doesn't even require a meeting!). But providing status on a daily basis seems ridiculous to me, it reminds me this famous scene

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    "the purpose of daily standups is to communicate between people that their work depends on one another" +1 for that alone - if we could convince people of that, then we'd make a leap forward. Well said!! – MCW Sep 30 '20 at 15:03
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When the team is spread out (like ours is over 3 continents), daily standups are not as effective. If everyone is in one location, it is a quick 15 minute huddle at the beginning of the day, but if people are spread out, it is not going to be in the "beginning of the day" for many of them.

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    You make a really great point Amrinder. I've worked with teams spread across most of the world. Something to consider is that the Scrum in a tactical synchronization with the team. Doing that at the beginning of the day has some huge benefits. I've seen some distributed teams have to not rely on scrum for their day-starter and get that benefit elsewhere. – Daniel Dec 8 '15 at 22:00
  • Who said standups have to happen at the beginning of the day? – Nathan Cooper Dec 8 '15 at 22:07
  • @NathanCooper US Federal Code Article 12, Section 11 says that standups are only allowed to happen at the beginning of the day (unless the participants want to have it another time). – Amrinder Arora Dec 8 '15 at 22:23

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