Operational Applications of Standup Meetings

April 23, 2012

The standup meeting is a hallmark of Agile. To recap, the standup meeting, sometimes called the “daily scrum,” is named so due to the attendees physically standing during the meeting. By its very nature, the standup meeting is intended to communicate status information very quickly as the meetings are timeboxed so that participants get to the point. On the typical Agile team, these meetings are held daily to recap the previous day’s work and to establish the upcoming daily workload for the team. But there are opportunities for standup meetings to be employed in an operational capacity that can be extremely valuable to many types of organizations. Below are a few examples.

  1. Use the standup meeting format for a weekly check-in meeting for your operational teams. Particularly in IT, the functional teams responsible for operational support in a particular area such as network, mainframe, or desktop support often operate in their own ticket or problem queue and may not know what others on their team are working on. To establish priorities, identify and eliminate redundant effort, and assign backlog items to team members, the standup meeting at the beginning week can be a valuable tool for the manager or team lead to accomplish these goals. The manager also gets to hear of any issues related to these tasks and priorities and clear any roadblocks for their team members.
  2. For problem management of a production-related issue. When multiple teams are involved in the diagnosis and correction of a production problem, the standup meeting is one way to get everyone together for a quick exchange of information. Time is of the essence when there are production problems in any industry because these typically translate to lost revenue. The typical conference room meeting takes your most important team members away from the task of identifying and correcting the problem. However, there is much value in having your critical staff talk early in the process instead of swapping texts or emails wasting precious time. This standup meeting might be held online if your team is geographically dispersed or it may be face-to-face as long as it does not impede progress towards problem resolution.
  3. Recognition and reward time. The standup meeting is a perfect medium to get a team together for celebrations. Topics should include both individual and team achievements for maximum effectiveness. This type of short session is the ideal way to give your team that boost to get them through the week. While an email also communicates the point, there is nothing more effective than public praise and recognition to inspire your team to reach their full potential.
  4. Communication of daily operational variances. Prior to the beginning of a shift or daily opening of a business, some types of organizations benefit from a briefing for all staff members. Think about a restaurant communicating its daily specials to their team, or an amusement park, acting group, or some other music or theatrical performance company reviewing the program for the day. Even a manufacturing firm could benefit from this type of meeting to review a daily quota, communicate the foremen and shift supervisor personnel to the group, or provide some other quick-hit information for the team as a whole. This type of standup meeting needs to remain focused on the upcoming business day or operational shift for maximum effectiveness.
  5. Check and correct, validation and verification, or other quality-related activities are suited for the standup meeting. For example, let’s say that the shift foremen in our manufacturing facility are responsible for different stages of a production process. The foremen might meet briefly every hour to review defects, bottlenecks, or other issues related to the day’s production and decide what adjustments need to be made to correct those problems. The standup meeting is the venue of choice because it remains informal, it happens very quickly, and it ensures that leadership communicates regularly to reach the overall goals for the shift.

Do you agree with these applications of standup meetings? How have you observed the standup or scrum meeting to be effective outside of Agile project management? What potential applications could you add to this list? So that others may benefit from your expertise, please share your comments!



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