The Agile Tribe

"Stories drive a stand-up"

on February 4, 2010

Author: Marc Galbraith, Iteration Manager

On a recent project the rather large team came to a consensus that stand-ups they were doing didn’t have the value attached to them they had been expecting. A suggested change in format was, “Let’s just talk about the stories!”.

OK, so we started to talk about the stories on the wall. The first issue that came up was WHERE DO WE START? We soon realised the best place was at the end of the story life-cycle and work backwards from there.

Complete > Sign Off > Test > Dev > Review > Analysis > Scope

  • We would reflect on what we had completed the previous day (Team).
  • Discuss current challenges to Signing Off stories (QA and Business Rep).
  • Issues in Testing would be discussed (QA / Dev).
  • Devs would walk down in priority order each story they are pairing on currently (Devs).
  • Stories that are ready and may need final review are highlighted (BA / QA / Dev).
  • Issues in Analysis discussed (BA).
  • Any new Scope highlighted (Team).

So this approach is driven by two key points, the state and priority of the story. We start from the highest and work to the lowest. In our case the highest priority story is in ‘Complete’ and was the latest addition to that pile. So if you were looking at a Scrum backlog it would simply be the item at the top of the backlog and work down the list.

As the project team is split across Melbourne and Sydney it is performed by each part of the team locally in front of their respective walls. Then twice a week we bring the whole team (approx 25 people) together over video and perform the same stand-up, which we call the ‘National Stand-up’. Just focusing on the stories has made the large stand-up more efficient, informative and productive for the team.

We achieve this over videoconferencing by printing out an electronic version of the wall, as we need to be in a room with dedicated video facilities, and nominate a facilitator to conduct the driving from the printout. At the end, the team walks out of the rooms with a good picture of where they are at overall, and where the focus needs to be.

Having a natural process to the stand-up also enhances the self-managing ethics the team wishes to improve on. It appears to take the guess work out of “What should I cover off at stand-up?”, especially on Mondays when the weekend has had a negative impact on their memory.

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