The Daily Scrum – A Commentary from the Project Manager’s Perspective

February 9, 2010

One of the most effective practices of the Scrum agile methodology is that of “the daily Scrum”. “The daily Scrum” is a fifteen minute, time-boxed, stand-up meeting typically held first thing in the morning. During the meeting the project manager (aka ScrumMaster) goes around the room and asks every team member three questions: “What did you do yesterday?”, “What are you going to do today?”, “What are your roadblocks?” The answers to these three questions give the project manager instant access to critical information including; what progress has been made, were the original estimates accurate, and is there anything that is preventing my team from making progress. This information allows the project manager to instantly take corrective action should the need arise. In addition team members are required to communicate on a daily basis what their contribution to the team has been. This keeps people honest and quickly unearths under-performers, who in turn feel peer pressure to perform. Another added benefit is that stakeholders can attend a Scrum meeting as non-participating observers and gain valuable insight into the day-to-day progress of the team.

For the typical agile project manager the daily Scrum is very valuable tool in their arsenal. However, what if you are a portfolio manager with multiple project teams that report to you? Then why not have a Scrum of Scrums (Scrum^2) meeting? After each project team has had a chance to Scrum, invite the project managers of those teams to another Scrum or Scrum^2. At this Scrum of Scrums ask the same three questions except in the aggregate: “What did your team do yesterday?”, “What are they going to do today?”, “What are your team’s roadblocks?” Basically this practice allows the critical information to flow-up from team member, to project manager, to portfolio manager. The Scrum^2 meeting ensures that you have the key information that you need to successfully manage your portfolio of projects on a daily basis.

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