Asynchronous Standups: The Pros and “Pros”
Why Standups are essential?
The term “stand-up” is used because it is intended to be a brief meeting, and the attendees participate while standing to facilitate this. For software teams, a stand-up is similar to a huddle in sports. Just like in sports, the team gathers before each play to keep everyone informed, connected, and aligned throughout the game. Similarly, in Agile methodology, a stand-up meeting, is a brief gathering of a team where they stand to discuss essential tasks that have been completed, are currently in progress, or are planned to be started. The purpose is to keep everyone informed and aligned on the progress of the project.
Standup meetings are an essential tool for teams because they:
- Help keep team members aligned and on track with the progress of their work.
- Improve communication and collaboration.
- Facilitate problem-solving. By bringing team members together on a regular basis, standup meetings allow for quick resolution of issues that may arise during the course of a project.
- Keep teams accountable. Standup meetings hold team members accountable for the progress of their work by requiring them to report on their progress and upcoming tasks.
- Keep projects on schedule.
- Promote a sense of teamwork and unity.
- Promote a sense of urgency and focus. By having a daily meeting, team members are reminded of the project’s goals and the importance of their role in the team.
Synchronous and Asynchronous Standups are both types of daily meetings that are commonly used in agile software development.
Synchronous standups are conducted in real-time, physically or via video conferencing. Team members are expected to be present at the same time and respond to questions such as:
“What did you do yesterday?”, “What will you do today?”, “Are there any blockers?”.
Initially, my team and I were using synchronous standups to communicate our progress and any roadblocks we were facing. This meant that everyone had to be available at the same time, usually in the morning, to participate in the meeting. However, as our team grew and we started working with people in different time zones, it became increasingly difficult to schedule these meetings. We began to experience delays and missed standups, which resulted in miscommunication and decreased productivity. Therefore, we needed a new approach.
Mistakes made during Synchronous Standup Meetings:
- Wasting more time than required: While they are intended to be short and efficient, they can sometimes become long and unproductive. An organization of 10 employees can waste up to 12-15 hours of time per week, thus hampering the efficiency and productivity of the organization. Irrelevant discussions, detailed updates, and decision-making in standup meetings waste time, decrease efficiency, and hinder productivity.
- Showing up late: Late arrivals at standup meetings disrupt flow, decrease productivity, and make it hard for latecomers to catch up. Team members should arrive on time for efficient and smooth meetings.
- Data not getting recorded: Without recorded data, it may be difficult to refer back to what was discussed and decided during the meetings, making it harder for team members to stay informed and on track with their tasks and projects.
After some research, we decided to switch to asynchronous standups. We implemented a tool for team members to share their updates and progress, and set a deadline for when they should be submitted. The transition was not without its challenges, but it has proven to be a much more effective way of communicating and staying on top of our progress. We no longer have to worry about scheduling conflicts or delays, and team members can share their updates at a time that works best for them. This has improved our overall productivity and has allowed us to better collaborate with team members in different time zones.
Asynchronous standups are a modern approach to the traditional daily standup meeting that are increasingly popular among remote teams. These meetings are typically shorter than traditional synchronous meetings and are often conducted using tools such as instant messaging or project management software. Asynchronous standups can offer a number of benefits. These include:
- Flexibility: Team members can participate at a time that is convenient for them, rather than having to coordinate schedules for a specific time of day.
- Better focus: Team members can participate when they are most alert and focused, rather than having to participate in a meeting at a time when they might be tired or distracted.
- Increased productivity: It allows team members to focus on their work without interruptions, which can lead to increased productivity.
- Better documentation: Documentation allows for better accountability and follow-up on action items.
- Better inclusion: They can be more inclusive for team members who are in different time zones or have different schedules.
Asynchronous standup meetings can improve team communication and collaboration by allowing team members to update each other on progress without needing to be present at the same time. It can increase flexibility and productivity, but clear guidelines and protocols are essential for success. Remote teams may find it especially useful. Regular evaluation and adjustments are necessary to ensure the meetings are effective.