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Jan 29, 2024

3 Daily Standup Questions: How to tailor them to your needs?

Project managers and team leaders have multiple challenging tasks of orchestrating large teams, maintaining the effectiveness and efficiency of task management, and keeping teams accountable by creating an actionable plan and constantly checking in. Fortunately, daily standup events can help in these work areas, significantly reducing stress on project teams and managers.

These daily standup meetings serve the entire team by giving everyone brief status updates, ensuring everyone is familiar with project goals, and reminding employees of their daily tasks. The short and standard questions save valuable time in a daily meeting while simultaneously keeping team members accountable.

Below, we’ll dive deeper into daily standups, questions you can ask, and their purpose and benefits. We’ll review the essential components of these questions, tell you how to adapt them to agile meetings or scrum teams and provide you with an excellent tool to help you with such questions.

What are daily standup questions?

Daily standup questions are the three standard questions you ask during agile stand-up and scrum meetings to learn more about team members’ progress and resolve potential issues they might have.

Why are there 3 of them?

If you’re familiar with daily standup questions or frequently have status update meetings at your company, you’re likely aware there are three basic ones. These include the following:

  1. What did you do yesterday?

  2. What will you do today?

  3. Is anything blocking your progress?

These standard questions aren’t meant for regular and prolonged meetings. Instead, they serve the purpose of a simple yet effective check-in. However, even if there are only three questions, they’re enough to cover all agenda items, product goals, and status reports and keep everyone on track while identifying possible roadblocks.

Purpose and benefits of daily standup questions

The goal of daily stand-ups is to reduce the waste of time that comes with standard meetings while keeping teams up to date on any existing and upcoming tasks and removing possible issues. As such, the questions you ask during these meetings have the following purposes:

  • Keep everyone updated about current assignments.

  • Inform teammates about the latest events.

  • Increase the efficiency of task management.

  • Boost the team connection and improve team dynamic.

  • Keep the project manager up to date with current progress.

  • Investigate and remove any possible roadblocks.

  • Create a mutual effort to accomplish sprint goals.

The sample questions above were carefully hand-picked for the official scrum guide, as they also bring various benefits to agile stand-up meetings. The benefits include the following:

  • These questions significantly reduce meeting times.

  • Status meetings focus on vital daily items.

  • The creation of a quick yet comprehensive sprint backlog.

  • Such queries and discussions motivate teams toward achieving sprint goals.

  • A significant increase in the overall project understanding.

  • They keep every team member informed and on the same page.

  • These questions hold team members accountable for their tasks.

These benefits are generally available in most daily standups with vital components. However, adapting daily stand-up questions to your team’s functioning, tasks, projects, and goals can lead to even more benefits for your team, regardless of the industry you’re in.

Essential components of an effective standup questionnaire

Although we’ve mentioned the three default standup questions, these may not work for every development team. Therefore, you can adapt these questions to the needs of your teammates and your company’s way of functioning.

However, to be effective, all standup questions should have the following elements in mind:

  • Sprint review – The first question covers all existing or completed action items and is essential to effective standup meetings.

  • Upcoming tasks – Similarly to completed tasks, next sprint planning and priority tasks should also be mentioned during such meetings.

  • Backlog items – Standups with product development teams should engage teammates to share ideas about products.

  • Inclusivity – All team members should participate. Therefore, questions can and should be adapted to your team to help create a better sprint plan.

  • Rotation – Daily standup scrum meetings work better if you go through everyone with one question and only then move to the following items.

  • Synchronous time – Standups are more effective when teammates share progress, tasks, goals, and obstacles verbally, in real-time, rather than asynchronous standups where a written format is used.

  • Remote teams – If you’re leading an out-of-the-office squad, it’s tricky to follow any rotation, and asynchronous stand-ups might work better in such a case.

Becoming an effective project manager or team leader requires always considering these elements. Including them in your next standup meeting can lead to higher team efficiency, better communication and collaboration, and faster meetings where everyone knows their goals.

Adapting standup questions for agile teams

Agile is a robust project management methodology that can be perfect for a software development team. With such an approach, software teams can quickly make any possible changes based on feedback, creating a flexible system where tasks can be accomplished efficiently.

However, agile daily standup questions also might differ from the ones we’ve mentioned above. These questions should have the following aspects in mind:

  • Flexibility – As Agile methodology is based on flexibility and adaptation of tasks and goals, your daily questions should also consider this aspect.

  • Project goals – A team leader’s questions should align with the sprint plan, leading to a better and more vital contribution.

  • Collaboration – Agile stand-ups should include questions that boost cross-communication, leading to more insight-sharing and efficiency.

  • Roadblocks – The third question shouldn’t be omitted for Agile teams, as they should collectively work on solutions for any issues.

  • Mind time constraints – Agile teams mustn’t have their focus time interrupted. Thus, you should keep both questions and answers short and to the point.

  • Synchronous approachAsynchronous standup meetings don’t work well with Agile teams. Thus, real-time verbal conferences are a far better option.

Remembering these when organizing your next Agile stand-up meeting will significantly boost your product development team’s efficiency and productivity.

Adapting standup questions for scrum teams

Scrum is a subfield of Agile methodology where engineering teams can experience significant boosts to collaboration and productivity as projects are broken down into much smaller chunks that are easier to handle. These chunks are known as sprints, which further break down into smaller units.

Like standup questions must be adapted to Agile methodology, Scrum daily standup questions must also follow some rules. As such, these questions must include the following elements:

  • Product backlogs – A Scrum team’s project manager should include questions that focus on priority items for the development team, also known as product backlogs.

  • Sprint backlogs – The 2nd question is generally about future tasks, but Scrum teams can adapt it to include all work items your team might need for completing a project sprint.

  • Sprint goals – Daily Scrum questions should also concentrate on the sprint’s goals, sharing them with the team before working on the sprint so that the plan can be achieved.

  • Transparency – This aspect goes hand in hand with sprint goals and affects individual tasks and team challenges, leading to any necessary adjustments to achieve goals.

  • Daily inspections – Like Agile teams, Scrum squads also focus on flexibility and quick adjustments to user feedback. Thus, standup meetings should happen daily.

  • Identify issues – The third question, the one about possible problems, can be adapted to ensure that the entire team works on its resolvement, leading to highly practical problem-solving.

Implementing these aspects into your daily Scrum standup questions will significantly enhance team collaboration, efficiency, and flexibility of your Scrum team.

Build consistent high team performance with Ayanza

Although in-person meetings and daily standups enable leaders to gain insight into each team member’s progress, allowing them to read body language and keep eye contact, it’s not the only meeting format available, and online teams can still have perfectly good and effective standups.

Even if you’re working a regular nine-to-five job and aren’t part of a remote team, the meeting can still go digital, where conferences and standups can flourish with dedicated daily standup software such as Ayanza, which bring numerous other benefits to such meetings.

Ayanza is primarily a project and task management tool that boosts team connections, leading to far better communication with its many collaboration tools and much greater team productivity with its management features and AI capabilities.

As such, Ayanza daily standup tool also provides multiple communication channels that help team leaders reduce the waste of time and keep standups under the 15-minute time limit. For example, a single-person standup and mentioning roadblocks can lead to others joining and prolonging these brief meetings. However, an effective leader can take the initiative and handle the issue or instruct teammates to get on another easy-to-use Ayanza channel and resolve the problem.

Moreover, many daily stand-up templates are available with Ayanza. Using these, you can adapt daily stand-up meetings and questions to fit any team’s needs. Whether you’re the leader of an engineering, Scrum, or marketing team, Ayanza has you covered with many templates in its arsenal.

For example, social media marketers can choose from an extensive calendar content template library to streamline their social media marketing efforts and create captivating content to resonate with the needs of their target audiences.

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What are the common pitfalls of daily standup questions?

Although the three daily standup questions can be valuable to any company, they also have downsides. For example, the third question can lead to a massive waste of time if no experienced project manager is present, as it can guide multiple employees to jump in, share roadblocks, and answer each other. 

At the same time, the rest of the team sits in silence and wastes valuable time. Therefore, all daily standup events should have a 15-minute time limit.

How can Ayanza be helpful with daily standup questions?

Ayanza is an excellent daily standup tool as it provides separate channels where teammates and employees can further discuss projects and roadblocks, breaking them down into smaller and easier-to-handle chunks while keeping meeting times short and leading to effective daily stand-ups. Similarly, it also provides daily stand-up templates, with whose help team leaders can lead to a better team dynamic and have effective standups. Such standups will be simple but give an excellent overview of team activity, tasks, goals, and responsibilities.