All about daily Kanban stand-up: 15 minutes that will accelerate your releases
There is а tradition in IT companies — to arrange daily internal meetings in the format of a stand-up or just a short meeting that is aimed to optimize work processes and synchronize the work of all team members. It is recommended to limit such meetings up to 15-20 minutes.
Agile development implies meetings as well. However, Scrum, Kanban, or XP meetings differ and have their own characteristics (as project management methodologies differ themselves as well). In this article, we describe the differences between Scrum and Kanban meetings and give some arguments to support the importance of a Daily Stand-Up Meeting.
Any internal meeting is an element of the company’s culture. It doesn’t matter what the purpose of the meeting is: to discuss the design of new furniture or iterations before the release of your product. It provides the principle of transparency.
It is unnecessary to simulate great efficiency and to hold meetings as the formality. Status meetings should result in benefits as even 15 minutes of wasted working time for each participant may cost much for the company.
According to statistics, most daily stand-ups are scheduled for 11 AM, and 63% of them start without a prepared agenda. The employees themselves consider 33% of meetings ineffective.
Unfortunately, the last big figure can reach any company: from an “ancient” bureaucratic corporation to a young start-up.
Unproductive Meeting Roles
In Agile-teams, the global meaning of the daily stand-up meeting is reduced to quickly, qualitatively, and reliably bringing the tasks to their completion.
Project managers or product managers who often organize a stand-up and care about how to avoid routine in tasks should constantly be aware of participants’ behavior. It’s crucial to eliminate the following roles inside the team:
- “A pseudo work-addicted person”: It is a very “busy” employee who comes with his/ her laptop because he/ she has dozens of important issues during the meeting.
- “Sleeping with open eyes” person: The meeting for this team member is just a formality. It seems that he/ she listens but actually does not understand anything.
- One who loves showing off: It is a very active employee, who likes to criticize and comment non-constructively, just so that everyone appreciates his active position.
- “Self-PR maker”: He/ she always focuses on his/ her own work done and its global importance for the project or the product, without any benefits for a general discussion.
- “Distracting” person: He/ she leaves the agenda and abruptly switches to another topic, for example, discussing the project budget.
Why Do We Need Internal Meetings?
Internal team meetings are essential elements of a company’s culture. No matter what the event agenda is — to discuss the new pop-ups or plan the upcoming release — the key idea is to provide transparency. Both Daily Scrum and Kanban meetings help teams optimize work processes and synchronize members’ work.
The tradition to run 15-minute group discussions has been established in most organizations dealing with the Agile methodology.
You may say that the Kanban meeting is just an ordinary group discussion with nothing special on board. However, all Product Owners, Scrum Masters, and Product Managers know that this ceremony is a must-have practice and it’s worth running it constantly. Yet, do not organize this meeting as a formality. Even 15 minutes will be enough to spend time productively, and the wasted working time for each team member may cost much for the company.
What Are the Types of Kanban Meetings?
All Kanban meetings lead to the same goal – faster delivery, more efficient flow, and client satisfaction.
1. Daily Stand Up
- Frequency: Daily
- Recommended length: 15 minutes
A Standup meeting should be run quickly and efficiently. This is traditionally held standing, so nobody feels too comfortable. The Standup’s goal is to answer three questions:
- What’s impeding us?
- How is work flowing?
- What can we improve?
Daily Stand Up is not the place for big picture strategy discussions, so try to be focused on the day ahead and immediate future.
2. Replenishment meeting
- Frequency: Weekly
- Recommended length: 30 minutes
To keep a steady stream of tasks moving across the Kanban board, you must select the number of tasks in the backlog. It takes place during the Replenishment meeting. Kanban suggests an approach to backlog management that eliminates the need for manual backlog reordering. During the Replenishment meeting, you should keep in mind such important things as forecasting delivery dates, the class of service of new work items, larger strategic objectives, and specific team member skills needed.
3. Service Delivery Review meeting
- Frequency: Bi-weekly
- Recommended length: up to 30 minutes
When your client is not satisfied, all the efficiency is wasted. The Service Delivery Review meeting is aimed to look at how well the customer is being served by the team’s output. It also cultivates trust with customers through acting transparently and engaging directly with their concerns. This meeting should involve the customer, the service delivery manager, and representatives from the delivery team.
4. Delivery Planning
- Frequency: variable
- Recommended length: 1-2 hours
All managers know that work can not always be delivered to customers on the day it is finished. During this kind of meeting, the team can predict what needs to be ready for release as well as what other work items are due to be finished. Delivery Planning should also take into account any hands-off requirements or training activities needed for the client.
5. Risk Review meeting
- Frequency: Monthly
- Recommended length: 1-2 hours
This ceremony examines factors that put work delivery at risk. During the risk meeting, blockers and backlogs should be examined to predict future risks to delivery. It is worth assessing the causes of past failures and resolving their causes timely. It will change from month to month, making this meeting with the most variation in participants.
6. Operations Review
- Frequency: Monthly
- Recommended length: 2 hours
This event takes a complete view of all interconnecting internal teams and systems. Any company can be held back by one improperly functioning part or inefficiencies, even if individual teams have high efficiency. The Operations Review involves managers from different departments and divisions looking for ways to improve the efficiency of the whole.
7. Strategy Review
- Frequency: Quarterly
- Recommended length: Half-day
This meeting takes a big-picture look at the whole operation. The Strategy Review takes into account the larger market landscape, examines new changes, and compares delivery speeds with the rate of market changes. The main goal is to identify potential large-scale problems and course-correct or optimize team operations where necessary.
The meeting should involve senior executives, Product Owners, and senior team members from customer-facing departments (such as marketing and sales).
What Are the Differences Between Daily Meetings in Scrum and Kanban?
The Agile development methodologies differ not only in their essence but also in the daily stand-up meetings conducted by their teams.
The main goal of the daily Scrum stand-up meeting is tracking whether the team is able to execute all the iterations, or as early as possible identify the reasons why they cannot be executed. A stand-up in Scrum is people-oriented. During the short stand-up meeting, team members share their results of the previous day as well as current tasks’ statuses, giving the team a promise to do specific tasks this day. If there are any problems, they are also shared.
The goal of daily Kanban meetings is to minimize the time spent on the tasks at all stages. Kanban meetings are not required but they can really influence working processes. The meeting is held around a specific board and helps the team to identify any bottlenecks.
- A moderator of Kanban meetings assembles all the participants. Most often, this role is the honor of a project manager or a product manager.
- The team focuses on one board. If the board is an online tool and the team is distributed in different places, then usually a call is organized.
- The team explores tasks from right to left from top to bottom and the options for the soonest transferring to the next stage are discussed. Everyone may have a speech here.
- The far-right column is used for complete work. The tasks that are closest to completion are of high priority. The faster the task goes to the rightmost column, the less time it will take to work on it (lead time).
- The moderator of a Kanban meeting clarifies what prevents you from moving a specific task to the done column. There are specific reasons and assumptions. If the task is blocked, it is marked and accompanied with a comment about why it was blocked. The tasks that were postponed are “sorted out” by team members. Everyone takes tasks to move them to the next column by the next stand-up.
So, the main difference is:
Scrum meetings focus on people, Kanban meetings focus on tasks.
The classic questions of the Scrum meeting can also be asked during the Kanban stand up, but with focusing on tasks as well:
- What disturbs the progress?
- How does the task progress in the flow?
- What can be improved?
|Kanban Stand Up Meeting||Scrum Daily Stand Up Meeting|
Process Description: How Does This Usually Happen?
- A team gets together in front of a physical or digital Kanban board. It’d be better if there is a leader of the meeting who has the necessary skills to conduct the meeting.
- All participants follow the tasks from the right column to the left one and from top to bottom. The tasks to be finished soon, are placed on the right side of the board, consequently, they are more valuable.
- Some team members can explain the problems and obstacles or update the progress for this task.
- If any task is stuck because of some reason, you should put a red sticker on it or mark it anyhow.
- Then the team moves ahead across all user stories on the board until everybody has a job for today.
Is It Difficult to Change Daily Scrum to Daily Kanban?
The transition from a daily Scrum Stand-up meeting to more flexible Kanban meetings should not cause any difficulties. The discussion format is different but the result of time-saving becomes obvious very soon.
What Are the Possible Reasons for Task Delays?
Here are these reasons:
- Blocked tasks profusion. When a task is in the last columns and hasn’t been released yet, you have invested time and effort in it but your product hasn’t earned money yet. According to Scrum, there is nobody to move such tasks to the Release column. Kanban allows seeing problem tasks, so you can easily pay attention to them.
- Priorities of tasks are changing frequently. Sometimes tasks can suddenly become unimportant when they get to the last columns, so your team switches to new tasks. As a result, these tasks are delayed close to the release column.
- Work expands to fill the time available for its completion. All tasks will have the status “In Progress” until the iteration ends. There is no aim to decrease Lead Time in Scrum, so there is no point for a team to push a task further to the Release column.
- Doing work is not the same as value delivery. Thanks to the Scrum meetings, a team discusses what they achieved yesterday but this does not always bring additional value to the product. Instead, this hard work may probably result in bottlenecks.
How to Avoid Delayed Tasks?
First, it is important to understand why your tasks are delayed and make some efforts to effectively accelerate them. The reasons for the release of “braking” tasks can be as follows:
- Often, when the task has already reached the end, it loses its priority and the performer automatically switches to new tasks. That’s why this task, which has not been fully completed, can be delayed for a long time.
- Often, many tasks are “stuck” during the approval stage by a product owner or a product manager. This happens because they can be simply busy, and the current task remains a step away from the release. Frequent Kanban meetings help to see such unfinished tasks and bring them to the end.
- The work fills the time allocated to it. All tasks will be located in any part of the board until the iteration is complete. Even if a certain task is finished earlier, it may simply not reach the last stage. And since the goal of Kanban meetings is to reduce the time spent on working on the task, you should “push” the tasks up to the release.
General Tips on How to Optimize Your Stand-Up
Every participant of daily stand-up meetings in Agile teams should be guided by certain rules that will help to avoid tasks routine:
- Don’t be late. The fixed time for the internal meeting will eventually become something must-have in team members’ schedules and will not be forgotten. This should be the responsibility of the moderator as well as organizing Kanban meetings at a convenient time for everyone.
- Do not turn a Stand-Up into long sessions or proceedings. The format of short Kanban meetings involves a quick discussion of business issues. Some creative teams “pass the word” to the next person with the help of a game ball, someone uses a microphone.
- Leave all devices in your working room. Come empty-handed to daily Kanban meetings. In fact, a 15-minute meeting is enough for resting your eyes.
- Do not solve global problems. Short Kanban meetings are not meant for big issues discussions. It is worth appointing a separate time for them.
- Do not report but share information. A Kanban Stand-Up meeting is not reporting to your manager but a common team meeting, so you need to share data with everyone.
- Improve oratory skills. Avoid vague formulations and express your thoughts clear to everyone. It is often difficult to transform a complex tech story into a simple, accessible to everyone speech. Then it’s important to share the most important things, leaving all the technical details.
- Be prepared. Before the daily meeting, you need to know and clearly understand all statuses of your tasks.
- Respect the audience. Do not interrupt during Kanban meetings and start discussing lifestyle issues after your turn to speak.
As a Conclusion
Any productive Stand-up must end with fresh ideas, clear decisions, and a short-term action plan. Product managers and all participants return to workplaces with a full understanding of their statuses as well as a whole project’s status. They make the necessary notes in their Kanban boards in the product management platform and start to think of the next-day status meeting.
Do you pay enough attention to daily Kanban meetings in your team? How is your typical stand-up? Feel free to share your insights.