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TL;DR

I'm looking for a recommended way of updating team members in their days off so that they are more or less informed of the changes in the product, the process or the company.

Full Story

Background:

I'm part of a scrum team within a company that develops software solutions. Our team consists of part-time and full-time employees. I assist the product owner (who is also our CTO and very busy) and the scrum master (who's actually an agile coach that visits two times a week). I write acceptance tests, document stuff and I'm expected to become a business analyst that also covers most of the responsibilities of the scrum master. Our company isn't very large (less than 20 people in the technical department) but some parts of our products DO get complex.

Since I've joined the company, I'm proactively finding ways for improving our department's performance by proposing changes in our software development processes, tools, meetings, etc.

The Problem: I'm a master's student and I can't attend work two days of the week. There are also some bachelor's students who are skilled and the company needs them. We have 3 professional developers that actually work elsewhere but participate in the projects after their work hours.

Every day changes happen and new decisions are made by the CTO and those who are present at the company. But those who are absent, such as my own self on those two days, won't get informed until the next day they show up at the company.

The company managers and I DO know that using part-time team members isn't efficient and can damage the agility of the team and we've accepted the overhead. But we're looking for ways to make this better as much as possible.

Our product has a microservice architecture and each BC has its own sub-team and its own project. Therefore tracking the progress has become a pain in the neck (at least for me who has joined just a month ago and isn't aware of all the information, concerns and decisions from the very beginning). Each product has its own board and backlog.

Also, our daily stand-up meetings don't seem to be effective much.

What would you suggest? I myself thought of a logging system and asynchronous stand-up meetings and a scheduled batch job that emails all the logs and team member's answer to async daily scrum questions to the team.

Should we adopt other frameworks/methodologies?

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One possibility would be using a tool like Slack.

Create a team news channel. Anyone who hears any relevant news or notes any significant comments/events during the day will add them as a message on the channel.

People returning to work after having been away can scroll back through the news.

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  • I agree. We don't use slack for a bunch of reasons and we've lately adopted rocket chat, hosting it on-premise. Do you have any recommendations about this news/comment/event sharing mechanism? How do we embed it in our current process and encourage our team to get involved in it? – Ashkan Taravati Feb 13 at 9:03
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    I think your team is better placed to decide on the sharing mechanism than I am. They will have a much deeper understanding of the details of the problem than I will. My general recommendations in situations like this is to talk about it, agree an approach and then try it for a few weeks. Then review it and decide if something else might work better. – Barnaby Golden Feb 13 at 12:34
  • talking to you, I found out that even more problems exist in our team, which are mostly communicational and inter-personal. We nearly have no retros. – Ashkan Taravati Feb 13 at 13:32
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    I coach that the retrospective is the most important meeting in Scrum. Don't worry about having problems, everyone does. The secret to success is to learn from them! – Barnaby Golden Feb 13 at 17:33
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I've experienced similar issues with literally every team I've worked with. I've learned that the problem is not the lack of a great tool to solve it.

Daily standup meetings are pretty common and useful if executed correctly. The most common problem I've seen in dailies is that everyone is rushing to express himself/herself and make sure that he/she has done his/her duty and no one cares about the other stuff his/her colleagues say; Except for the manager who has to know what's going on in the team.

So I personally think the solution to your problem is an upgraded peopleware and not a new software :D

The best result is achieved when each individual understands and feels the need of knowing what is his/her colleague doing and how it could help him/her. To propagate this feeling in the team, everyone should be carrying responsibility like the manger which in the first place led him/her to feel the need to know what everyone's working on.

And at last, to address your question you could record the daily sessions and share them with the team via slack, email or any other tool commonly used in the team. It's working for us.

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  • You're absolutely right about the peopleware. Another problem is that we have a single group of people attending the daily scrum session who are not focused on a single product. I guess we should actually have separate teams with separate products and daily scrum sessions, but because of some managerial decisions this is not happening. – Ashkan Taravati Feb 13 at 9:00
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    Having processes like dailies, retrospective meetings and delegations of responsibilities helps the team to decide on separating the team on its own – mehdy Feb 14 at 9:38

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