How to run a (better) daily standup

Published on
July 5, 2022

If you are like most development teams, you bring everyone together for a daily standup (either live or async). However, many teams struggle to keep their daily standup on track. So how can you run a daily standup that gets results rather than raspberries from your team?  Here are 7 practical tips to make your daily standup faster and more-effective.

1. Set a good vibe

For those working from home (or pools or coffee shops), the daily standup might be the only "face to face" time they get with the team. Using an icebreaker can help create a more positive and productive vibe and helps the team understand each other a little better. Try an Icebreaker every day or maybe just once a week to build some connection.

2. Prepare your updates before standup

One of the key elements to running a productive daily standup is ensuring the team is prepared beforehand. The easiest way to promote preparedness is to remind each team member to write down their YTB updates (which stands for Yesterday, Today, Blockers).  Writing helps people organize their thoughts and keeps people on-topic during standup.  

Keep in mind, most people will forget to write their updates if you use a docs tool like Notion or Google Docs.  Instead, try Spinach. The Spinach Bot reminds you to prepare directly in Slack, and let's you pull tasks from Jira so the prep is quick and easy!

3. Begin and end on time

Another leading factor for a successful standup is sticking to the schedule. Standup should start on time, with no waiting for latecomers. It’s far easier to encourage teams to meet each day when they’re certain the meeting won’t drag on and waste everyone’s time. Starting on time keeps the focus on brevity and participation and saves everyone the annoyance of chronically late coworkers. Perhaps most importantly, less time spent waiting around means more time accomplishing your tasks for the day.

4. Skip the surprises

There is no right or wrong way to structure your standup. You should decide as a team what structure is best for your people and the product you are building. Howevz, your team should always walk through the (virtual Zoom) door with a complete understanding of what will be covered in standup. Each day’s meeting should run precisely like the last, following the same structure and with the same expectations of participation from the team.  

3 key questions you should cover in each daily standup

1. Yesterday: What work was completed yesterday?

2. Today: What work will be completed today?

3. Blockers: What could stop you from getting this done?

Keeping daily standup short (15 minutes) is the goal, so answering these questions concisely is super important. But being concise is a lot harder than it sounds! Spinach reminds everyone to prepare beforehand, so it's easier to articulate what you want to share. Spinach also has a timer so each person can see how long they have been talking- which helps prevent rambling.

5. Avoid distracting discourse

Protecting your team’s time is essential. And while daily standup should be kept brief, sometimes there are topics that you need to discuss. Rather than bringing them up in the middle of your update (or interrupting someone else's time), it's better to write these down and save them until the end.

Spinach provides a space called Team Topics to corral these potential distractions and save them until the end, keeping the standup marching forward.

6. Provide async-friendly summaries

In a remote world, people are working in different time zones and environments. So it's important to document standup for those who may have to miss it. And also give them the opportunity to share their updates asynchronously.  

Spinach turns each persons' update, the Team Topics, and any Notes into a concise standup summary and shares it with your team's Slack Channel. And if you don't use Slack, you can access summaries of all past standups in the Spinach app and easily cut and paste the Summary to whatever tool you do use.

7. Use a tool to streamline daily standup

When it comes to daily standup meetings, tools for streamlining the process can help ensure the time is spent wisely. For example, collecting YTB answers prior to daily meetings gets everyone on the same page before they even show up. And after the meeting, infusing each person’s feedback directly into your Slack channel improves communication and alignment. These are just two examples of how Spinach can increase your daily standup meeting effectiveness. Give Spinach a test drive today!