Why are my Daily Scrums running over

Daily scrums do over run and this shouldn’t be seen as a problem. Actually we encourage you to view this as a positive thing, the team is talking. The opposite is the team not talking and that should certainly be seen as a bad thing.

That being said, the daily scrum is supposed to be a quick sync, confirmation of progress against shared sprint goals and then letting people get on with their work. A good scrum master will understand why the daily scrum is over running and take the appropriate steps.

Let’s explore some other reasons why your daily scrums might be running over.

Team Size

A simple reason maybe that your team has gotten too big. A rule of thumb from Silicon Valley is that you should be able to feed your entire team with two pizzas, which puts the upper limit on team size at around 8 to 10 members.

Often as organisations grow, the teams also grow and they will need to split teams into different product verticals. If you are in that transitory period you might just extend the stand up to accommodate the larger team before you’re ready to split the teams.

Availability

If you are noticing that there are a lot of questions around clarification of what needs to be built, it may be that key stakeholders such as the product owner or the business analysts are not available during the Sprint. This may mean the development team trying to get clarity during the daily scrum. This should be addressed as a wider issue around availability of the product owner for the success of this print.

Communication channels

Another reason why daily scrums can overrun is that team members are not collaborating enough outside of the daily scrum. This often manifests as discussions between the developers and can lead to lack of alignment and integration problems down the line. Clearly these discussions need to happen but need to be accommodated outside of the daily scrum.

The scrum master should review communication channels as a topic during the sprint retrospective and ensure the team agrees on a common understanding of how each channel should be used. Channels available to the team will include email, chat, wiki pages, shared whiteboards, video calls and meetings.

The team’s ways of working agreement should include a section on what the expectations are around each channel e.g. setting up specific chats for work discussions and another for social arrangements, using wiki to document agreements, expectations around email response, etc.

One approach here is to create a parking lot meeting that follows the daily scrum. This is a 30 minute optional meeting slot straight after the daily scrum called a parking lot. Now, when exchanges during the daily scrum turn into extended discussions between the developers, the scrum master should suggest that the discussions are better had in the parking lot.

Timing

A simple reason for a daily scrum over running is late arrival of staff. Punctuality aside it’s worth speaking with team members to see whether the timing of the daily scrum works for everyone. Work/life balance is an important aspect of team morale so it’s worth taking personal commitments into consideration. For example, it is often the case that both parents in a household work, and need to share the school run.

Conclusion

Understanding why the daily scrum is over running is an important aspect of implementing scrum effectively.

Availability of key stakeholders, team size and the timing of the daily scrum are questions that can be discussed openly with the team during your sprint retrospective. Having a common understanding of communication channels and how to use them are agreements that should be added to the team’s ways of working.

We encourage you to download the agile heuristics daily scrum template to facilitate an effective scrum.

To find out more about agility, click here.

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