Do bots/apps help with daily stand-ups?

Last post 05:44 pm January 13, 2022
by Rudresh SM
9 replies
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11:41 pm April 19, 2020

Does anyone have experience of using a bot for their stand up meeting and if so are there any benefits or drawbacks to using one?  I've seen a few that ask questions of the team individually about what they worked on, what they're going to work on and if there are any blockers - before bringing it all together for the whole team.

I suppose one drawback to this approach is that the communication between team members isn't being encouraged, but since the stand up isn't intended as a detailed status report I'm not sure if this is necessarily a problem.

The main reason I'm considering introducing this is to bring down the time of the meetings and to keep people focused.  There's nothing to stop someone from writing a load of rubbish of course, but I suppose in my head it would be of benefit because it would stop people talking about other work or what they did at the weekend.

I just wondered if anyone had tried a bot or an app out and whether they were useful or whether I should be distancing myself from the idea?

03:05 am April 20, 2020

Hi Jim,

 

I think you are missing an important concept around the Daily Scrum, btw, it is not a stand up, nobody has to stand, you could have team members that are unable to stand and calling it a stand up may be leading to why you are asking about a bot to run the meeting. 

As per the Scrum Guide, "The Development Team uses the Daily Scrum to inspect progress toward the Sprint Goal and to inspect how progress is trending toward completing the work in the Sprint Backlog. The Daily Scrum optimizes the probability that the Development Team will meet the Sprint Goal. Every day, the Development Team should understand how it intends to work together as a self-organizing team to accomplish the Sprint Goal and create the anticipated Increment by the end of the Sprint."

So if you just put a bot in place to answer questions, you lose any sense of communication, teaming, overcoming dependencies and blockers, etc.  You may want to have a listen to this video on the subject.

07:50 am April 20, 2020

I just wondered if anyone had tried a bot or an app out and whether they were useful or whether I should be distancing myself from the idea?

It would be a remarkably inventive way to cover problems up.

11:23 am April 20, 2020

In addition to what everyone else has stated, we have an old saying as Scrum Masters: Take it to the team!

Assuming your are a Scrum Master, directly solving this for the Dev Team might impact self-organization, as you become the crutch, looked upon to solve their issues. Might they be capable, and be even more vested in their own solutions?

03:22 pm April 20, 2020

The main reason I'm considering introducing this is to bring down the time of the meetings and to keep people focused. 

Has the Development Team raised a concern about this?  Remember that the Daily Scrum is for the Development Team by the Development Team.  If they feel that their Daily Scrum is not being effective, then they should be the ones to find a solution. However, I would not encourage using a bot that pulls all communication into a non-verbal, text based basis.  It will end up with all of the Development Team typing answers to 3 quesitons and going on about their day. People will become complacent by just typing and not even read what the others are providing.  The benefit of the Daily Scrum is the interaction of the Development Team members and active participation in planning what the team will do for the day not what each individual is going to do.

04:49 pm April 20, 2020

Thanks for the responses received so far. 

Some of the development team have raised this as an issue but in the absence of an obvious alternative, and with some of the more senior people in the team stuck in their ways its difficult to seek and try out an alternative. By giving a suggestion or two, I'd hope to give the confidence for others to put forward something. I do take on board the point about avoiding being the team crutch that was brought up earlier though.

It seems from the responses received so far that it's expected that this would fall flat on its face, but it also seems that those making that opinion have not tried a bot with their teams. It may be something that we just have to try out but I was keen to hear what the experiences were of those who had tried one as well. 

Much to think about. 

 

01:36 am April 21, 2020

For most companies DOing Agile these days, acquiring a task-management software and an Agile "Coach" to force people to use it is the pinnacle of Agility.

Business Agility has nothing to do with gimmicks. A change in mindset to do work better and to create for the customer is required. And that direction must come from the leader down so that the organization can transform. 

03:18 pm April 21, 2020

but it also seems that those making that opinion have not tried a bot with their teams. 

I have used bots.  And the answer I gave previously takes that into account. It was that experience that lead to me statement that it will become people typing answers to 3 questions and not looking at anyone else's answers..  There is a reason that the Scrum Guide makes all of the events a place where people gather, even if virtually. It is because when people gather, people talk.  The back-n-forth communication is what makes these things work.  

Yes, I have done standups successfully completely in chat software without verbal communication.  But that usually when we had team members that were on the other side of the world and getting everyone together at the same time was difficult. And those stand ups were not as effective as ones where everyone gathered.  In fact the team decided that twice a week they would all come together.  They arranged it so that one part of the team would stay late and the other in early.  

08:19 pm April 22, 2020

I suppose one drawback to this approach is that the communication between team members isn't being encouraged, but since the stand up isn't intended as a detailed status report I'm not sure if this is necessarily a problem.

What do you believe the Daily Scrum is intended for?

The last sentence in the Daily Scrum section of the Scrum Guide seems to have your answer.

This is a key inspect and adapt meeting.

Now, how do "bots" support this goal?

12:33 pm January 13, 2022

I strongly recommend to use a bot for daily scrum. I have developed and using it to solve larger problems. following steps are achieved with the bot

1. List of open impediments

2. Help scrum master/whoever is playing role of SM to followup and update impediments resolution.

3. The captured information is used in data analytics for future use i.e in future when there is simillar impediments Bot will provide instant response. However, it's upto developers to take the resolution or proceed with seeking further answers.

4. Identify impediment/bottlenecks resolution cycle time

5. Establish transparency at all levels i.e Every stakeholder can see the list of open impediments, can see responsibilities to resolve impediments, also see the cycle time of resolution.

Having bot is extremely useful for 

1. Distributed agile teams (across geography and developers working from supplier/partner locations)

2. during Blackswan events like pandemic, or natural disaster