How to have a well run remote standup session with your team.

Standups are a key part of the agile and scrum process. Each standup is a time for our team to sync up with each other and the customer. It is also an opportunity to let our customer know of any unexpected delays or obstacles.

We have each team member answer three questions:
1. What did I do yesterday?
2. What am I doing today?
3. Do I have any obstacles?

To get the most out of the standups we try to keep them short (less than 15 minutes), and encourage the customer (aka “Product Owner”) to be in attendance. The Product Owner may be able to answer questions or remove obstacles, but it is important that they do this after the meeting so that those who are not interested in the discussion can get back to work.

As a nearshore development team we are able to schedule standup times that fit well with US customers and our team in Costa Rica. This is impossible to do with outsourced teams in India, because of the huge time zone barrier. Since the standups can’t be done in person we do them over video chat on skype, which helps with accents by allowing other team members and the customer to see facial expressions.

Nearshore development has allowed us to successfully continue the key agile practice of standups, without it being a burden for the team members or the customers.

If you’re curious about what an agile standup looks like with distributed teams, check out the following video of one of our recent standups.  Note that in the standup Arin pointed out a good observation that a team member made, and said “let’s talk about that after the standup.”  In a standup, you should not be problem-solving until everyone has had a chance to speak and answer the “3 questions”.  Anything else should be handled at the end of the standup so that those who are not interested in that discussion can drop off the call and get back to work.