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My understanding is that a Daily Scrum meeting should be very quick, hosted in a friendly way and that it requires all the team members present. Because it is objective is to have everyone up to date with what everybody else is doing.

I like Scrum Daily Meetings that are held like that.

In my latest project our Daily Scrums are more like a Status Update meeting. Although the position is that we are holding Scrums and practicing proper Agile.

We are a distributed team, in 2 different countries, and the people that is in the same Country are not in the same office. As consequence we have virtual Scrums.

The problem is that our meetings always start on time, many people calls before the actual start time, so they actually start at the very first second of the meeting. Without any tolerance for small delays.

For example the last time we were on the phone and the person coordinating the meeting checked if everyone was on, and we said one of our team members was not on yet but he was calling. And I was told to start sharing without waiting for my team member.

Also everyone has a lot of meetings, and sometimes they are back to back with the Scrum meeting, so it is understandable if they arrive during the first or second minute of the meeting.

Is that the normal for teams practicing Daily Scrums? It is the first time that happens to me.

I can not find any bibliography directly about it. Although the presence of all team members is stressed, it is stressed also that the meetings should always start at the same time. But I imagine there can be a small delay tolerance.

I even read on a blog someone suggesting that the Scrum Master can place penalties if someone arrives "5 seconds" late. I thought the Scrums were supposed to be friendly, and having a penalty like that seems counter productive.

What is the recommended approach in a situation like this?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 11 down vote accepted

Like with any agile practice, scrum teams can decide this for themselves. If it bothers you, you should bring it up in your retrospective and try to come to a solution that everyone is happy with. Perhaps other team members feel the same way, but think that's "just how scrum is done."

That being said, in my scrum meetings I start on the second unless three or more people are missing. For a meeting that everyone is required to attend every day, I feel it is disrespectful of everyone's time to do otherwise. When I'm the one that shows up late, my team starts without me. If we have time at the end, we go back to the tasks of people who came late.

I have been less strict about punctuality in the past, and what happened is people who showed up on time got tired of their time being wasted, so they started trying to guess when the meeting would actually start, and show up then instead, which had a snowball effect.

For a daily meeting, it's not the end of the world if someone occasionally misses part of it. Hopefully it isn't the only communication you're doing throughout the day.

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I get your point. Although I feel that it sort of breaks the spirit of the Daily Scrum, at least as it is described. Plus it has never been a delay more than a minute. And it is mostly, because the Software doesn't work well. The usual teleconference issues. –  Sky May 7 '14 at 20:35
It's a lot easier in person as generally people are seated near each other, and can be grabbed if they are late. I am product owner on a project that sounds similar in that we have people working in at least four separate locations internationally. It is more difficult because sometimes people are "late" due to technical limitations. I personally think a balance can be made if people aren't abusing it. –  Steven Burnap May 7 '14 at 23:05
@StevenBurnap That is what I feel, no one in my team is close. And that a meeting start hour is 3pm, doesn't mean people start talking at 3, it means they get together at 3. I just feel being so strict is actually counter productive in distributed teams. –  Sky May 8 '14 at 17:56
I vote this one because you said first that the Scrum teams can decide it for themselves, and that you mentioned some people may feel "that is just how scrum is done". The rest is relative, as the conditions for each situation are very hard to explain over here. And regarding punctuality, it depends on the people, I rather not punish people that honestly had issues, just for the future possibility of abuse, since distributed teams have additional complications that I can't describe here. Thanks for your answer! –  Sky May 15 '14 at 14:17

Is this how Scrum works?

I would suggest to you that daily meetings are too often for any business activity, unless your team is especially productive (meaning they can produce large swaths of functionality in very short time periods).

If you do decide to have daily tag-ups, they should last no longer than 15 to 20 minutes, and yes, everyone needs to be on time or they don't participate. Tag ups are for the benefit of the team members, not the scrum master; penalties for missing daily meetings should be handled in the same fashion as any other tardiness would.

In short, I don't see anything special here. I do think that daily meetings of any kind border on micro-management, but if you do decide to do them, you need to do them properly.

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Isn't the main objective of having an unstructured meeting every day that the team can know what everyone is doing and offer help to others? And therefore it is more important that they are comfortable and share, than if they arrived 30 seconds late? –  Sky May 7 '14 at 20:28
Kinda depends on the corporate culture, I guess. In some work environments, it would be too chaotic to have people wandering in after the meeting starts, and some folks would see it as not taking the meeting seriously. I personally don't have a problem with people walking in 30 seconds late, but if it happens throughout the meeting... –  Robert Harvey May 7 '14 at 20:30
Well these are virtual meetings, so everyone calls in and it is not disruptive. But right now we are trying to stress the cross collaboration, since we are 3 teams that are becoming one, and specially if you know they are calling in, why not wait? If you don't want to wait, then don't check if people is on. –  Sky May 7 '14 at 20:37
if you know they are calling in, why not wait? -- Because a 3 minute wait becomes a 5 minute wait, then a 10 minute wait... As Tom Hanks eloquently said in the movie Cast Away (when discussing the on-time record of Federal Express) "Before you know it, we're the United States Postal Service." –  Robert Harvey May 7 '14 at 20:40
If you don't maintain punctuality, people get annoyed with you and with each other. If you maintain punctuality, people get annoyed with themselves for not making sure they were ready. Which would you prefer? –  keshlam May 8 '14 at 1:57

If you wait for people, it teaches them it's OK to be late. If you start on the minute, people will be taught they need to be there on time if they want to participate. Programming is a professional activity that requires at least a modicum of discipline.

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