Staying Agile Without Standups

Somya Jain

Partner at SWARM



We struggled to do a daily stand-up in our fast-paced environment that had up to six live projects at any given time and were often staffed by the same people across multiple projects. We decided to adopt a single company-wide stand-up across all projects, which was fine until timing proved to be problematic. Originally, we began stand-ups at 10 a.m., but people were often late making the standup less effective. We then attempted to do a stand-up at lunch time which we shortly thereafter realized to be disruptive. In an attempt to try and find a suitable time for everyone, we even tried changing the stand-ups to the afternoon I found this disrupted the time I was most productive. To our dismay, nothing felt correct, nor productive.

Actions taken

  • We ended up abandoning in-person stand-ups all together and moved stand-ups to Slack.
  • With stand-ups, you usually talk about 'what you did yesterday', 'what you plan to do today', and 'roadblocks'. I didn't care so much about the 'yesterday' and 'today' aspects as I did the roadblocks because we were already having weekly planning meetings and reviews. Due to this, what we made sure to do was educate the rest of the team on how important highlighting roadblocks are and whose job it is to highlight them on Slack.

Lessons learned

  • Sometimes, removing friction is more effective than sticking to what is the best industry practice. Everyone does stand-ups, including me for 10 years, but it needs to be challenged. Every environment is different and there are some environments where standups are not necessarily ideal.
  • Surprisingly, cutting out in-person stand-ups did not cause any problems. We were able to move just as quickly and highlight our issues just the same. Once we educated the team on the importance of communicating roadblocks, our Slack stand-ups proved to be efficient. Luckily with our one-week sprints and the ability to move quickly, we didn't need standups to become more agile.

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Somya Jain

Partner at SWARM

CommunicationAgile, Scrum & KanbanTeam & Project Management

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