Your guide for setting up a Scrum meeting

by Robin Sherwood

Initially created for project management in software development cycles, the Scrum methodology organizes a cross-functional team, keeps them accountable, and gets projects launched, in accordance with Agile. It’s been implemented in numerous industries and can benefit your team even if you aren’t in software.

Scrum process diagram

Scrum is based around the kanban, a board of lanes that contain separate moveable tasks slotted into three statuses: To Do, Doing, and Done. Your project may have more steps and more specificity, such as Concept, Develop, Test, Review, but the former is the core of what your kanban must communicate in order to keep track of all action items. 

In Smartsheet, you can digitize your moveable tasks and project steps in card view. While card view functions similar to a kanban board, you can use it for many project management methodologies.

Typically, Scrum teams consist of 10 or fewer individuals with different roles or skill sets working on the same project. At the daily stand-up meeting, you all stand around your board, quickly discuss what each of you did yesterday, is doing today, and what obstacles you have.

Considerations before using Scrum for your project

  • Does it allow for simultaneous work from different team members? If it doesn’t and requires that one phase is complete before another in a specific order, don’t use Scrum. Instead, consider using Waterfall methodology.
  • Can it be split into manageable chunks? Scrum only works in sprints, which are codified sections of a project that require singular focus for one-to-four weeks. A sprint may be made up of many smaller tasks, but there is one final goal. Only once this goal is complete can a new goal be decided upon.
  • Is it flexible in its process, methods, or features? Scrum involves a process of constant development, ideation, and reinvention based on what team members discover during the process. What you set out to make and what you ultimately decide to end up with could be different, based on these discoveries and iterations. If the aims of the project are rigid, then by definition it isn’t suited for Agile.
  • Will the team members always be available? Since a close-knit team is important for Scrum, it’s best to have everyone in one room on a daily basis, though a group chat is acceptable in a pinch.
  • Will team members be trusted and autonomous? If the answer is no, it might not be suited for Scrum. Scrum teams can’t be micromanaged. The stand-up meeting is a status check in, not a time to berate, criticize, or command. Typically, executives and managers who are outside the main team of people actually completing the project should be excluded from Scrum meetings. The goal is to create a trusting environment where everyone is honest, at ease, and not being evaluated.

If you answered yes to these considerations, you can organize your project using the Scrum methodology.

Step-by-step guide to setting up your team’s Scrum meeting

Icons for people, time, ideas, and communication

1. Assemble your team and assign role

  • The Scrum Master is a ref, not a coach. Their role is to round up the team for the daily stand-up meeting and keep them on task during it. The tenets of Scrum says there are no leaders, so this role should rotate among the team. You might draw names from a hat, or go alphabetically.

  • The Product Owner represents the voices of key stakeholders for the work, such as the end consumer, and often help clarify project requirements. They also serve as a liaison between the Scrum team and other stakeholders who don’t participate. Their other important function is to decide whether something is “done”. This role is permanent.

  • The Team is a cross-functional assortment of differently-skilled contributors to the project. They should train each other in addition to keeping each other up to date on their progress. Overall, you should keep the whole team in the meeting under 10 people, to keep the pace brisk. There may be other key contributors, but at the meeting, one developer could represent the whole development team on the project, for example.

  • Outsiders such as managers and executives shouldn’t be present at normal standup meetings — the Product Owner should report to them. It is normal to have a “sprint exit” where external stakeholders are invited to see the progress the team has made, however.

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2. Set your rituals

  • Place: Pick a location near the work area and convenient for everyone where the meeting will always happen. Try to make sure it’s not a place with lots of distractions like foot traffic, or a conference room that’s always getting booked last minute for meetings.

  • Time of day: Set a time for the Scrum to start, and make sure it's consistent. If members are constantly missing the meeting, it will start falling apart. To make sure they show, ask each when works best for them and make sure they commit to it.

  • The board: Arrange a kanban-style board to display tasks and work status. Consider codifying it with Smartsheet card view, which was built specifically for this type of workflow.

  • Time limit: Choose the meeting time limit, and have a timer to keep everyone on task. Set it realistically so that your teammates feel they have enough time to give a full, but brief, update.

  • Cues: Think about starting and ending with ritual cues such as music. Go for a high energy song to get everyone moving.

  • How to rotate the speaker: You’ll be going one at a time, and could give reports by alphabetical order, or just go around the circle.

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3. Orient the team

  • ​​Pre-Launch meeting: To successfully get the team to invest time in Scrum, you should first explain its purpose. You might try “we’re doing Scrum project management because it’s a quick way for us to move projects along, find and solve sticking points immediately, and know what we’re all up to. Plus, a 10-minute meeting each day will save us from an hour-long status meeting with the executives every week.”

  • Outline the stand-up: Explain how the daily meetings work. Cover the three questions they need to answer:

    • What did you do yesterday?

    • What are you doing today?

    • What obstacles block your path?

  • Discuss the project: Since this is your first time, you’ll have to explain how this process will work with the test project you’ve selected.

  • Establish sidebar rules: Scrum is just for status updates to the team. Everything else should be set aside and addressed in separate meetings, as regulated by the Scrum Master.

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4. Refine the process

  • Initial Assessment: Check with the team on how it’s going after a few days.
  • Peer-to-Peer: Make sure the team is interacting as one unit, rather than just reporting to the current Scrum Master.

  • Time Limits: Evaluate if the Scrum stays on track and within the time limit.

  • Wherever you see issues, try to implement fixes.

And that’s all there is to getting your Scrum meetings off the ground. With a successful Agile setup, you’ll start saving far more time each week than what you invested in establishing it initially.

If you’re still not sure that the Scrum methodology is right for your team or project, pick from other project management methodologies to help you successfully manage workflows.