Monday, December 03, 2007

Don't Scrum? Stand up anyway.

I'm on a team that doesn't practice any specific development methodology.  We're definitely agile, but we don't fit right in with some of the more popular process models, such as XP or Scrum.  Our business analysts and product managers produce requirements, but usually after development has already begun.  Our development sorta consists of iterations, but not really.  We don't have any big visible charts, or a burn down graph or an up to date Gantt chart, or kanban post-its all over the wall.  We've got a really structured QA process, which requires a great deal of communication between business analysts, engineers, and QA.

One thing we do have is a daily stand-up meeting.  And we've been having one every day for the last year.  If at a minimum, you can start somewhere, start at the stand up.  There's no better way to get a face to face status with the entire team, and get them all focusing on the goal of delivering software.  Our meeting has fluctuated between 6 and 15 people over the last year, but we've rarely ever had a meeting that lasted longer than 15 minutes.

This all said, I think there's a few more elements in the agile processes that I'd like to start working on, but I'm grateful that the stand-up has become part of the fabric of the way our team communicates. 

If you're not doing it, give it a whirl.  I highly recommend reading this rundown of daily stand-up patterns by Thoughtworker Jason Yip, and make sure that you are sensitive to the smells that could make the meeting less effective.