Scrum Ceremony Best Practices – The Daily Scrum/Stand-Up

Man in Beanie writing on a white board

We will kick off our next series of articles about Scrum best practices that you could use in your ceremonies. In the very beginning of implementing Scrum, it is common to not truly grasp why certain ceremonies are performed. It is also easy to get caught going through the motions after doing Scrum for a while, so this reference will be handy to refer to if you feel like your ceremonies are getting stale or not providing value.

So what is the purpose of the daily stand-up or daily Scrum as some call it?

Purpose of the Daily Stand-up:

From my experience, there are three purposes for the Stand-up!

  1. User Story & Task accountability
  2. Communicating impediments or blockers
  3. Is the team on track to meeting its sprint commitment?


When you ask the three questions (What did you finish yesterday? What are you going to complete today? Do you have any Blockers?)  to your team members, it should be obvious if their responses are aligned with the purposes that I just mentioned. If there is vagueness or misdirection, it is critical that the Scrum Master recognizes that and digs deeper to get the necessary answers.

Here are a few of the best practices that my team came up with for our daily stand-ups!

Best Practices:

  • Participation is mandatory (in person or webex). Team members will inform the rest of the team if they know they will be absent
  • Keep the meetings to 15 minutes if possible
  • Stand up is for the development team, not the Scrum master or PO. (SM and PO are welcome to participate, but keep in mind it’s for the dev team)
  • Show the Rally (Our project management software)/Physical board and call out stories that are completed but not yet accepted, to identify stalled user stories.
    • Show a completed column in Rally or Physical board as a visual cue to get it accepted
  • Focus on finishing stories
    • What has been completed since last standup
    • What is going to be completed before next standup
    • If using a physical board, put “tick marks” on story showing how many days in play before accepted
  • Team members should discuss inefficiencies as well as blockers (ie the build is slow, PRs are taking too long to get merged, etc..)
  • Measure the team’s confidence of the committed plan at the end of the stand-up
  • Utilize Rally Reports (Burndown, etc..) to show team progress
  • Use visual indicators on stories to give quick view of status (red dot – may mean story is blocked, etc…)
  • Use visual indicators on tasks to give quick view of status
  • Defer Parking lot items that can derail the meeting, and use the time after for the team to discuss “non-stand-up” related items


Benefits of an efficient Stand-up:

    • Work through blockers
    • Helps pursue technical excellence
    • Encourages working at a sustainable pace and delivering quality software
    • Allows time to address internal conflicts
    • Promotes continuous improvement
    • Encourages thinking in terms of the team, not just their own individual work
    • Keeps the team responsible for meeting delivery commitments
    • Allows a time for the team to show genuine concern and respect for others
    • Promotes Communicating honestly, openly, freely, continually
    • Allows time to Celebrate successes

What are your experiences with the daily stand-up? What has worked? What have been the biggest challenges that you have had to overcome? I would love to hear your thoughts!