5 Tips to Make Your Scrum Meetings More Productive

Scrum meetings are a significant part of the Agile methodology. Adopted in any industry and used for any project development cycle, the Agile approach proves to help teams stay more focused and efficient towards attaining project goals.

These meetings are designed to keep effective collaboration intact for project follow up, updates and potential issue identification. However, just by calling it a Scrum meeting does not necessarily guarantee efficiency.

A study by Microsoft proved that 71% of meetings are considered unproductive, which means that they had no clear outcome and no productive next steps.

Whether is time calculation or team member involvement, it is important to plan Scrum meetings for optimized project results.

Here are some tips from experts and professionals to help you keep your Scrum meetings on track and your team focused.

Pre-set Meeting Time

To ensure every day in the project development cycle goes as planned, it is important to keep a set time for Scrum meetings. This helps the team stay organized and on time.

George Psistakis is a Scrum Master and co-organizes the Agile Greece and API Athens meet ups. According to Psistakis, daily Scrums provide the opportunity to inspect, adapt plan the day. These meetings require a fixed time and place. However, it is up to the teams to decide when and where to hold these meetings. It is always better to have a pre-set time.

Stay on Time

Jeffery Payne is the author of more than 30 papers on software development and testing as well as the CEO and founder of Coveros, Inc., a software company that uses the Agile approach.

According to Payne, late comers can waste a lot of time. Collectively, ten people waiting for fifteen minutes would equal to 2.5 hours of lost productivity. He recommends starting meetings on time regardless of who is present. In case some people continue with this behaviour, they can be charged a penalty as “late fine “.

Similarly, meetings should not be dragged. Meetings need to be ended on time as well so work can start and continue as per schedule. Payne suggests “timeboxing ” to add urgency to an activity and the same can be done for meetings.

Keep a Fixed Meeting Duration

Did you know that a study revealed that the more meetings one has to attend, and the more time one spends in meetings, the greater the negative effect? This shows the importance of keeping meetings shorter and to the point.

George Psistakis recommends keeping a meeting time-box of 15 minutes. The entire purpose of the daily Scrum meetings is to monitor where the team stands. For this reason, keep a maximum meeting length of 15 minutes.

Stay focused

Did you know that 92% of respondents confessed to multitasking during meetings?

To make your scrum meeting more efficient, it is important to stay focused on the topics or stories at hand. Nirav Patel is a project manager with more than a decade of project management experience. Patel suggests preparing a list of topics beforehand and prioritizing it.

Only the topics on the list should be discussed during the stand-up meeting. The topics can be selected based on current work in process and items with approaching deadlines. Plus, the topics need to be relevant to everyone to avoid going off track.

Patel further recommends defining a Parking Lot for issues than are important but have to be dealt with later. After the main scrum meeting is over, you can set up meetings with the team members directly related to that specific issue.

Visualize Success

A good way to keep the team members interested and focused throughout the scrum meetings is to have it out in the open.

Lauren Lambie has spent 12 years in gaining expertise and certification in both Agile technologies: PRINCE2 and Scrum. Lauren is of the opinion that the usual scenario with most teams is that the team is very energetic at the beginning of any project.

However, as issues start arising, the team energy gradually diminishes as they focus on tackling the issues. In such cases, the team members can at times get overwhelmed by the problems forgetting the entire aim and purpose to the project.

Lambie recommends keeping a visual reminder while conducting daily scrum meetings. By doing this your team can stay alert and not get easily distracted with the issues. An example would be, if you and your team are working on a website, print out the designs you are working on and have them pinned up where the entire team can see.

How do you keep your scrum meetings effective? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

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Fred Wilson

Fred is an Agile & Software Consultant at nTask. He works with teams to streamline workflows and enhance team collaboration. He is an avid reader and often writes about productivity, project management and collaboration.