The stand-up meeting is all about planning!

The stand-up meeting is all about planning!

One of the most ubiquitous features of an Agile implementation is the daily meeting. The daily meeting is known under many names, such as the “stand-up” meeting and the daily scrum. I am often asked if the daily meeting is meant to be a status meeting, a planning meeting or some combination? In its simplest form the daily meeting gathers the core team and answers three basic questions.

  • What did I accomplish yesterday (or what did I do yesterday)?
  • What tasks am I going to complete today (or what am I going to do today)?
  • What is blocking my progress?

The meeting is generally severely time boxed (approximately 15 minutes).

There is a debate about whether the daily meeting is a status meeting or a planning meeting. If we take the point of view of  a classic project manager in a waterfall project, where a project’s tasks are planned and metered out to the project team in advance, the daily meeting is primarily a status meeting. Planning is done upfront and then tailored by the project manager. From this point of view the daily meeting would be a status meeting. Agile projects take a different tact.  Planning is done in layers. Release plans feed iteration/sprint plans, which in turn are used to plan each day’s activities.  In Agile, planning is a daily activity based on an intimate knowledge of where you are right now.  In an Agile project the daily meeting is a planning meeting.

The three questions outlined above provide the team with the basis for the day’s plan. The first question, what was accomplished, makes sure the team understands which tasks are complete or not.  When each team member tells his or her peers what task they are going take today, they can react to the needs of the team are based on current information.  Knowing what the blockages are provides the Scrum Master with additional tasks to expedite into their day, specifically; anything blocking progress needs to be the top priority.

The case is clear, in Agile, the daily meeting is a planning meeting. While it provides the team with a crisp understanding of the progress the team has made, it primarily provides a platform for team members to take on the next task based on that progress.  The team plans and then re-plans daily based on feedback.