Most developers and agile project management team members are likely aware of standup meetings and have been a part of these already. These meetings can be stressful and tedious and take up much of your day. That’s especially true if you’re dealing with inexperienced team leaders who don’t follow the daily standup questions format.
Whether you’re dealing with an in-office team booking random conference rooms or handling team members from different time zones across the globe, standup meetings can be incredibly effective at keeping the team and the company’s goals aligned. However, this is only true if you follow the standup meeting rules.
This blog will delve deep into standup meetings, focusing on their effective organization, duration, benefits, and potential challenges. Stay with us as we examine the most common problems of daily standups, and we’ll answer all your questions, help you choose the right standup time, and equip you with the necessary tools for always having effective standups.
How to choose the right time to set up standups
Organizing standups is pivotal for project success, and one of the factors that can make or break your meetings is the designated time of day. Of course, the chosen timeframe ultimately depends on your team’s organization and whether you’re dealing with office workers or remote team members in different time zones.
On the one hand, handling remote workers can be incredibly challenging, especially if the team members are from different countries. Finding the right time will prove difficult, and you’ll need to consider diverse time zones, working and sleeping hours, and team members’ tasks and availability. It’s also an area where asynchronous standup meeting alternatives might prove a better option than daily standups.
On the other hand, office teams have it better as their only difficulties are deciding whether to organize daily standups in the morning or the afternoon and the time for those meetings. Of course, both morning and afternoon standups have advantages and disadvantages. The exact time of day will depend on your company’s working hours, your developers’ shifts, and other business-unique aspects.
– Getting it over with first thing in the morning of your workday gives you a clear view of what to focus on that day.
– Instantly updates the team about blockers from the previous day’s work.
– The fast-paced tempo of a standup meeting can wake your team members better and lead to more productivity.
– Difficult for team members in different (later) time zones (e.g., US employees in European companies).
– It can be overwhelming to some employees to start the day with standups as they’re fast-paced meetings.
– Better for team members in later time zones, allowing them to engage with the rest of the team.
– It helps reflect on the current day’s tasks, achievements, and difficulties.
– Allows team members to incorporate and resolve issues that have occurred during the day.
– Team members might feel exhausted and not present after a long working day.
– Difficult to align with team members’ shifts and end of the workday.
It’s worth noting that choosing the time and staying committed and consistent is critical for a successful standup meeting. When you find a convenient meeting time, you should keep it there without making unnecessary changes to keep everyone attending and on the same page.
Factors influencing standup time
With that said, office and remote employees, time zones, and meeting times aren’t the only factors you’ll need to consider.
Other aspects are also vital, with the following three being the most crucial ones:
The size of your team
Choosing the suitable standup meeting duration depends on your team’s size. Smaller teams can have effective meetings in a shorter timeframe, while larger teams require more time to update colleagues and ensure everyone gets a go. Striking that balance is vital, and experimenting with standup durations is advised for those just getting started.
The complexity of your projects
Another vital factor is related to the product or service you’re developing, where the complexity of the ongoing projects is pivotal in choosing the suitable standup duration. Handling a more straightforward list of projects won’t require as much time for team members to speak and answer the three standard questions, but you might need to prolong your standup meetings a bit over the 15-minute mark for big-ticket items.
The balance between efficiency and updates
Successful standup meetings largely depend on striking a balance between meeting efficiency and updates. Sure, it’s necessary to keep the entire team in the light and update everyone on yesterday’s and today’s tasks and possible blockers, but you’ll need to account for efficiency. That often means the entire meeting toward shorter, straight-to-the-point answers to keep everything running smoothly.
Of course, there might be other factors you’ll need to consider depending on the type of company you’re working in and the product or service you’re developing. However, these are company-specific and can range a lot – thus, they won’t be included here.
Optimal standup duration for different teams and work environments
While the 15-minute mark should be a cornerstone for all standup meetings, optimal meeting durations significantly depend on your team and work environment. As mentioned, your standup meetings will depend on your team’s size, and you should feel free to extend the meeting by a few minutes and have everyone participate or shorten it for Agile meetings.
Employee focus also depends on the environment and type of meeting. On the one hand, a team leader can quickly manage a conference room by being direct, promoting participation, and even including exercises to start the daily standup. On the other hand, you’d need to account for a few minutes to get started with remote workers and adjust your strategies accordingly.
Hybrid teams are undoubtedly challenging to handle, as agile methodology requires frequent updates, and organization can be complex when you have both office and remote teams. Keeping these between 15 and 20 minutes should work as it accounts for the fast-paced agile methodology and a few minutes to connect office and remote employees.
Benefits of given standup time
In software development and project management, standup meetings emerge as pillars of success, as they connect employees, update team members on current and completed tasks, and help teams achieve shared goals. They also bring certain advantages, such as:
Creating cohesive teams with rituals – Daily standup meetings begin a routine where members can engage in shared rituals, promoting team building and better collaboration. Such meetings can help create cohesive teams that function well together, improving your company’s efficiency.
Improving communication flow with constant updates – standup meetings are based on exchanging information and resolving issues. Such an environment requires and enhances team dynamics and communication, ensuring everyone knows about all aspects of the project.
Promoting developer focus and accountability – As team members discuss their previous and current tasks and blockers, standups help keep every developer accountable for their actions. Engineering teams can also better understand the project’s scope through these concise status updates, letting them focus on their jobs and minimizing distractions.
Teams practicing standups are often more efficient and effective due to these meetings, showcasing how standups affect cohesion and communication, constantly enhancing the developer team’s productivity. However, standup meetings are also not without obvious challenges.
The most common challenges of standup time management
Keeping standup meetings effective is crucial but incredibly challenging, with many team leaders needing help with a few aspects of standup meetings.
Here are some of the most common challenges these project leaders face:
Overrun standups – Standup meetings should last for about 15 minutes. They’re meant for teams between five and ten people, as a 4-person team wouldn’t experience the benefits. Even with a team on the higher end of these numbers, 15 minutes should be more than enough. If you constantly need to address lengthy discussions and overrun standups, you must rethink your status meetings and organize them better.
Unfocused members – The standup’s team leader is in charge of the conversation, and they’ll need to moderate the meeting to keep everything short and precise. Anything other than the three standard questions, including problem-solving and side discussions, must stay out of your 15-minute standup time window.
Unequal member participation – While it’s natural to have silent team members, such terms are only acceptable if you’ve just brought in a new developer who’s still adapting to your work environment. Otherwise, the meeting leader should encourage everyone to speak up, as unequal participation can negatively affect team collaboration and communication.
Facilitating and moderating such a meeting and clearly defined standup questions will help your team maintain focus and improve at keeping these meetings short, effective, and to the point.
You can also explore AI time management apps as they can be of help.
Use Ayanza to save time spent on standups
While undoubtedly beneficial to software development teams, daily meetings can be challenging to set up and keep short, with many team leaders needing help to keep things wrapped up in the standard 15 minutes. These meetings often become ineffective as they extend to two-hour meetings and are a waste of time that decreases the developer team’s productivity. Still, there is an alternative to synchronous meetings.
Asynchronous meetings are often a better option for many software teams, and Ayanza is an excellent example of an AI project management tool that can save time on standups. Namely, Ayanza’s Rhythms is a creative solution that can handle automatically generated team events and help your team members align with each other perfectly.
This free app provides an analytical solution with threaded conversations, preparing a team for success. It also has various premium options and features that you can use and adjust according to your team’s size and project complexity. It’ll help your developers align with the company’s vision and project goals, write down progress, share with team members, and achieve success with Retrospective Reflection.
Are there any recommended time limits for daily standup meetings?
Yes. In Agile team environments, most developer team leaders keep their daily standup meetings at 15 minutes. This chosen timeframe is often more than enough for teams between five and ten people, where each member has a few minutes to answer the three standard questions and where team members share updates on what they’re currently doing and how things are progressing.
How can teams determine the appropriate length for their daily standups?
Project managers starting a daily standup routine will undoubtedly have to experiment with meetings initially, based on their team’s size, project complexity, and balance between efficiency and updates. However, with some practice and experience, team leaders should be able to find the exact timeframe that works for their team, with the 15-minute mark being at the core of all standups and becoming slightly adjusted based on the mentioned factors. They can also experiment with daily standup tools.
Are there any consequences to having excessively long or short standup meetings?
While short standup meetings result from practical daily action items and cohesive teams that function well together, excessively long standups are bad meetings and stem from ineffectiveness and lousy meeting management. Team members are often tired and less productive after such long, pointless meetings, resulting in late assignments, unfinished tasks, and a lack of development progress.
How often should teams reassess the length of their daily standup meetings?
Suppose your developer team runs effective 15-minute daily standup meetings, where all team members are active, sharing updates and notifying about meaningful tasks or blockers. In that case, there won’t be any need to reassess the meeting duration.
However, suppose you’re struggling to get the team to participate and actively discuss their task boards and blockers. In that case, there’s a need to reassess the situation, where weekly or monthly standup changes can increase your team’s productivity and efficiency.
Are there industry standards or best practices for standup meeting durations?
Absolutely. Most effective standup meetings consist of one team leader, one product owner, and a few developers using the analytical method. Standup meetings also work best for teams with five to ten employees, meaning there are between three and eight developers in that meeting. Furthermore, keeping the meeting under 15 minutes and slightly adjusting for a team of 9 or 10 developers is typical in most industries.