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Understanding daily standup meetings: Purpose, benefits, and expected outcomes
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Understanding daily standup meetings: Purpose, benefits, and expected outcomes

Get clarity on the purpose and expected outcome of the daily standup. Run more engaging, productive meetings that people will want to be in.

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Picture the scene, it’s Monday morning and your daily standup meeting has just started. The scrum master or meeting leader kicks off by asking everyone to share what they’re working on and what’s blocking them. However, as they go around the room, it becomes clear team members are simply stating routine tasks without delving into the issues they’re encountering. Nor are the rest of the team putting their hands up to offer help when there are issues. One by one, people deliver their updates and mentally check out, waiting for it to end so they can get down to work. 

Daily standup meetings are important to keep teams aligned. But if you don’t know why you’re holding them, you can’t expect your teams to either. People have a lot of meetings, so you need to be crystal clear on why you’re asking them to attend this one—and how to ensure it’s the best possible use of their time. 

In this post, we’ll dive into the purpose, outcomes, and benefits of daily standup meetings. We’ll also give you a list of tips to ensure you achieve those objectives and run standups your team actually wants to participate in. 

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What’s the purpose of the daily standup meeting? 

The purpose of the daily standup meeting is to achieve alignment between team members and identify blockers that prevent progress. It’s a chance for people to connect, share what they’re working on, and get help from each other. This helps keep everyone on the same page and work moving forward on schedule. 

According to Dimitri Graf, Manager, Web Development & Design, Canonical, daily standups are particularly beneficial for cross-functional teams like software development who work closely together and whose work depends on each other. “They might need each other,” he says, “and this is the time to find out.”

What’s the expected outcome of the daily standup meeting? 

The ideal outcome of the daily standup meeting is for people to get the help they need. Secondary outcomes include a better understanding of project, individual, and team progress. It’s also a good opportunity for early identification of roadblocks, recurring issues, and opportunities for improvement. 

For example, a member of your software development team might flag a bug, causing another team member to offer solutions based on their previous experience with a similar issue. As well as resolving the current blocker, the conversation sparks a broader discussion about improving the code review process to prevent similar issues in the future. 

Why is the daily standup meeting important?

When you run effective daily standup meetings, it helps keep everyone on the same page, and improves communication, teamwork, and accountability. Also, says Graf, it can help move product development forward. Because standups typically happen daily, it allows you to be agile, flexible, and switch things out on the fly if they’re not working. This avoids people spending a lot of time and effort on things only to find they have to change direction.  

For example, imagine your lead developer shares an update highlighting the technical challenges they’re facing with feature development. This leads to the team realizing they need to revisit their approach. They set up a brainstorm to find alternative methods and come up with a revised framework that’s better suited to the task. 

Regular standups also make it easier to track project progress, optimize task allocation, and manage workloads to avoid burnout. Finally, it’s a chance for peer-to-peer support and learning, which can be highly gratifying and motivating for team members. 

How to achieve the objectives of the daily standup meeting 

Now you know what to expect from your daily standup meeting, let’s take a look at how to achieve those objectives.   

Encourage concise, relevant updates 

Daily standups should focus on how to move work forward and overcome obstacles collectively, so you need to avoid them turning into status updates or discussions of unrelated work. Encourage team members to focus only on what’s essential to making progress and achieving project or sprint goals. They should deliver updates with enough detail for people to understand them, but without getting bogged down or going off-topic.  

A good standup meeting rule is to remember that the purpose is to get up to date, not into protracted discussions. As Graf says, “If the discussion starts deviating or going into detail, this isn’t the meeting for that.” When people start discussing something, “this means they already found a partner to discuss it with, which is the main purpose of the meeting: to find a partner who can help them.” Once this is achieved, 1:1 discussions should continue outside of the standup to avoid everyone having to listen to them. 

To keep people on track, assign a leader or facilitator to moderate the meeting. For example, the product owner or product manager. Note that they shouldn’t dominate the meeting, but rather encourage people to engage and keep updates short. 

Sticking to a variation on the three standard standup meeting questions encourages brevity and focus: 

  • What did you do yesterday? 
  • What will you do today? 
  • What challenges are you facing? 

For example, a team member might share that yesterday they completed coding a new feature. Today, they plan to start debugging and testing it but are facing challenges with real-time data display. 

Finally, remember to keep standups as small as possible and don’t invite stakeholders who aren’t involved in the team’s daily work. “There’s a limit to the team size that can collaborate productively,” says Graf. “It makes sense to have a standup when the team works together daily. If some parts of the team aren’t involved in daily activities, then it doesn't make sense.” 

Know when to table side conversations 

To avoid meetings going off track and running long, the meeting facilitator should know when to table discussions for another time. For example, if a developer starts getting deep into the technical challenges of a new feature’s code, it might be best handled in a separate conversation. 

If this happens, have someone make a note of important or interesting side topics that come up, so they don’t get forgotten about. If you’re meeting in a persistent Switchboard room, you can jot them down on a notepad and have Switchboard AI summarize them afterward so you can share them with the team. 

Switchboard AI menu options
Switchboard AI can summarize information and activity in your persistent room, saving you a ton of time. Source: Switchboard 

Adapt the format to team dynamics and needs

You can experiment with different standup meeting formats to suit your team. Some like a round-robin format, where each team member speaks in order. Others prefer to "walk” the kanban board, starting with completed tasks and working backward to identify blockers and overdue items. 

Starting with wins or mutual appreciation can provide a much-needed moral boost. Also, it’s a good idea to start by sharing any updates that affect the entire team, like changes in project timelines, as these may affect what people share. You can also vary the question format. For example, by asking action-focused questions like “What can we finish today? Are there any urgent tasks? Do all tasks have an owner?” etc.  

While consistency is important, if your team is scattered across time zones, you might want to rotate meeting times to accommodate everyone equally. Alternatively, try doing it asynchronously in Switchboard. Just open a notepad in your persistent room and have everyone commit to adding and reading updates at the start of their day. Then, they can start a comment thread if they want to offer help or discuss something with another team member.

Switchboard room with image and comment thread
Switchboard lets you start a comment thread on any item in the room, so you’re always communicating in context. Source: Switchboard

Follow up

Diligent follow up helps build trust among team members because it shows you value their contributions, and ensures things get done. There’s nothing worse than having a list of to-dos at the end of a meeting and turning up to the next one to find nobody did them. 

Have someone make a note of action items, assign them to specific people, and share a summary with the team after the meeting. If you’re meeting in Switchboard, you can post this in a notepad, Notion, or any web-based app in the room. Or, share it via email or a dedicated Slack channel.

Switchboard room with files and sticky notes
Everything stays right where you left it in Switchboard, so anyone who missed the meeting can get up to speed async. Source: Switchboard

Use tools and technology to boost efficiency 

You can make your daily standup meetings more efficient and focused by using tech to boost engagement and participation. For example: 

  • Project management platforms. Task boards in Asana, Jira, Trello, etc., let you track tasks, note down blockers, and get visibility into the team's work. 
  • Visual aids and note taking tools. These might include whiteboards or sticky notes to visually represent workflows and blockers or jot down action items. 
  • Daily standup meeting tools. Dedicated daily standup software like Geekbot or DailyBot lets you automate and run asynchronous standup meetings by posting team members’ updates to Slack. 
  • Video conferencing tools. If you’re meeting online, you’ll need robust video and audio, as well as engagement features like hand raises, polls, chat, emoji reactions, and a meeting timer. If you’re using Switchboard, you get all these plus multiplayer browsers that let you pull up and explore all the apps and files your team needs side by side—without screen sharing nor integrations.
Switchboard room
You can open any web-based app in Switchboard and it’ll stay right where you left it after the meeting. Source: Switchboard

Foster psychological safety 

Trust is essential for standup meetings: You need people to be open about their challenges and comfortable asking for help. 

To establish trust, you need psychological safety so people feel they can speak their minds without fear or reprisals. To achieve this, says Graf, you need to show genuine interest in your people, lead by example, and model vulnerability. For example, by being honest about your own challenges and mistakes. 

You should also invite and be open to feedback on your leadership style and decisions. For example, by conducting regular reverse performance reviews or setting up an anonymous feedback form. 

You can also hold regular team building exercises to establish trust and empathy. For example, by starting meetings with a check in or playing games that encourage people to collaborate and get to know each other. 

Cancel the meeting when necessary   

Just because you’ve always done things a certain way doesn’t mean you always have to. Be prepared to cancel the daily standup meeting when necessary to ensure it remains productive. For example, if it’s turned into a generic status update week after week, you may want to try other formats. 

Also, just because it is a daily standup doesn't mean you need to all huddle together at 9 am sharp every day. Try switching to async standups or doing more outside the meeting. For example, sharing updates in your Switchboard room beforehand. This makes the meetings you do have more efficient and gives people back more time to work.

Switchboard room with project proposal and team member chat
Switchboard lets you communicate in real time or async—so you never need to choose. Source: Switchboard

Understanding the purpose of daily standups: The key to more effective meetings 

It’s time for the daily standup meeting once more. But now, everyone knows why they’re there and what kind of updates they should be sharing. They know how much detail to go into, and that any side issues or action items will be dealt with after the meeting. Everyone’s engaged, participating, and falling over themselves to help each other. As a result, you’ve got a more collaborative team, visibility over tasks and progress, and a smooth-running project. 

All this can be achieved if you take the time to understand what the expected outcomes of the daily standup are—and how to achieve its objectives. For example, by encouraging concise, relevant updates, fostering psychological safety, empowering your meeting facilitator to table side conversations, and following up in a timely manner. 

When you use a collaboration platform like Switchboard, you can do more outside of meetings and make the ones you do have more productive. For example, by sharing updates in your room before the call, or using multiplayer browsers to explore files side by side during the meeting. 

Keep people aligned without constant meetings.
Switchboard’s persistent rooms save your work, so you can share updates in real time or async.
Sign up free

Frequently asked questions about expected outcomes of the daily standup

What are the goals of daily standups? 

The goals of daily standups are to keep teams aligned and for team members to get help to overcome blockers. It’s also an opportunity for leaders to get an overview of project, individual, and team progress.  

What are the benefits of daily standups? 

The benefits of daily standups include: 

  • Greater team alignment 
  • Identify and deal with obstacles before they become a problem 
  • Get an overview of what everyone’s working on 
  • Boost transparency, ownership, and accountability 
  • Keep projects on track and moving forward on schedule 
  • Accelerated product development 
  • Opportunities for peer-to-peer knowledge sharing and learning 

How do you do a daily standup meeting? 

You run a daily standup meeting by establishing a time and frequency that works for your team, Normally, 15 minutes at the start of each day. Typically, people stick to a familiar format of asking three standard standup questions that focus on past and future work and blockers. Encourage people to keep updates short and relevant, and know when to table side discussions for another time. 

Note, though, that you can also run standups async, which is good if you’re struggling to coordinate schedules on a distributed or remote team. It also avoids everyone having to put down what they’re doing to attend.

Stop, collaborate, and listen

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Keep people aligned without constant meetings.

Switchboard’s persistent rooms save your work, so you can share updates in real time or async.