The objective of daily team integration meetings is to coordinate team member activities on a daily basis.
Normally the first agile practice my clients implement is the daily team integration meeting. These daily get-togethers (referred to as Scrum meetings in the Scrum methodology or daily stand-up meetings in Extreme Programming) focus on one objective: peer-to-peer coordination through information exchange (Schwaber and Beedle 2002). "Daily software builds are used to raise the visibility of development work and ensure that code modules integrate. Daily Scrum meetings serve the same purpose for peopleraising the visibility of each person's work (to facilitate knowledge sharing and reduce overlapping tasks ) and ensuring that their work is integrated. If daily builds are good for code, then daily 'builds' should be even better for people" (Highsmith 2002).
The daily integration meeting enables the team members to coordinate their work by monitoring status, focusing on the work to be done, and raising problems and issues. The meetings adhere to the following principles:
To the extent possible, the daily meetings should be held at the same time and place. Attendance may vary from day to day, but that is preferable to the hassle of constantly trying to reschedule. Meetings can be held in a break room, in the corner of a work area, in a conference roomteams are very creative about finding meeting space. (Some teams are fortunate enough to have dedicated space, and in fact, dedicated space makes a positive contribution to agile projects.) Most team members find these short meetings to be efficient and effective. They eliminate the need for other meetings and help the right people to team up to resolve issues.
Time duration is critical to meeting success. When daily meetings begin to slide past 20 to 30 minutes, people gradually stop coming. Even worse , lengthening timeframes are a sure indication that the wrong things are being discussed. For example, these meetings should not be used to solve problems, only to identify them. Usually, when problems are identified, the team members involved in the solution get together briefly after the integration meeting.
The project manager's participation is another delicate factor in successful integration meetings. The objective of these meetings is coordination, not status review. When managers begin asking questions like "Why didn't that task get finished as planned?"team members feel pressure, sometimes subtle, sometimes not so subtle, to conform to the plan rather than discuss coordination issues. The astute PM rephrases the question to uncover impediments to progress and find out what team members need from him to get back on track. Task performance pressure in these integration meetings should come from peers, not from managers.
The meeting facilitator's role, which can be rotated from day to day, is to smooth the progress of the meeting itself. The facilitator might nudge the team, "That's a great point, but let's take the further discussion offline from this meeting."
Responses to the question "What impediments are in the way of your work?" become action items for the team leader or project manager. Impediments may be organizational"We can't get a response from the marketing department"or they may be resource related "We're having trouble getting an electronic circuit board we need"or have some other cause. It's the PM's job to remove the impediment as quickly as possible.
Daily team integration meetings are a tool for self-organization; they assist the team members in coordinating their own work and solving their own problems. As such, the project manager's role should be as unobtrusive as possible. He should use other forums for gathering status, coaching, or working with the team on performance issues.
As with any other practice, the characteristics of the daily meeting (meeting time, frequency, and attendees) will need to evolve for different situations. One such adaptation might be for the core delivery team members to meet daily, while members from support functions join in weekly.
Other adaptations can be made for projects with multiple subteams or feature teams. Integration meetings can be used to coordinate across these feature teams, with appropriate adjustments. For example, in a project with four feature teams, two members of each team might attend a thrice-weekly inter-team integration meeting. During times of greater coordination needssay, at the beginning of a project when overall design issues are being discussedinter-team meetings might be daily, while later on they might be weekly.
Finally, the team should constantly ask questions ( especially at milestone reviews) like: "Are these daily team integration meetings adding value to the project?" and "How could we improve them?" The objective of these sessions is coordination, not having daily meetings or answering the three questions (accomplished, planned, impediments) for their own sake. Those activities merely facilitate achieving the objective.