According to the Scrum Guide, the purpose of the Daily Scrum “is to inspect progress toward the Sprint Goal and adapt the Sprint Backlog as necessary” and “it is held at the same time and place every working day of the Sprint.”
Scrum does not tell us at what point in the day to carry out the Daily Scrum. The most common pattern I see is for Developers to hold it first thing in the morning in order to plan the work for the current day. I instead, prefer to do something different – The Evening Daily Scrum. I prefer to hold the Daily Scrum as late in the working day as possible and use it to plan work for the next day.
There are 5 reasons I prefer to do the Daily Scrum in the evening:
MAXIMISE YOUR PRIME TIME
We all have times of the day where we are more productive. Many people are at their peak first thing in the morning. It makes sense to spend this time doing the highest value work rather than planning upcoming work. Put your brain to work doing the most important work when it is at its most effective.
When you do the Daily Scrum first thing in the morning there is a greater likelihood of people being absent due to travel delays, childcare commitments, doctors appointments and other often unavoidable factors. If you run it later in the day it is more likely that more people will be able to attend consistently. The Daily Scrum will be more effective as a result.
FAST START THE NEXT DAY
In order to ensure everyone is present at the Daily Scrum, it is common to start it at 09:30 in a team where people typically start work at 09:00. This is to allow for the absentee issues mentioned before. This means that most of the team will not get into focussed high-value work until at least 09:45. The first 30 mins of the day will be spent on low-value work waiting for the Daily Scrum.
If you do the Daily Scrum in the evening people starting at 09:00 can immediately get into focussed work and be productive. The evening Scrum leads to less waste. This can make a huge difference when compounded over days, weeks and months.
SOLVE THE TIME OVERRUN ISSUE
“The Daily Scrum is a 15-minute event” – The Scrum Guide.
This is fine in theory but often not easy in practice. The natural tendency is to try to solve the issues that emerge in any discussion. The 15-minute restriction deliberately does not allow space for this.
By holding the Daily Scrum at the end of the day, we make overrunning the 15 minutes significantly less likely. If the team’s natural end of the day is 17:30, and we do the Daily Scrum at 17:15 people will have a strong motivator to keep to the 15-minute timebox. They will want to finish for the day!
LEAVE YOUR WORK BEHIND
When doing complex work that requires deep focus, it can be hard to mentally switch off at the end of a working day. Until I started the Evening Daily Scrum I would often physically stop work but mentally continue working. My brain would find it hard to let go of whatever it was I was working on at the end of the day.
Another great side effect of planning the next day at the end of the current day is that it allows you to organise your thoughts and park your in-progress work. By pausing, planning and updating the Sprint Backlog with the current progress and next steps it means we can leave the work at work.
A calmer mind means more rest, which leads to more effective work the next day. I used to have a hard time shutting off from work at the end of the day. The Evening Daily Scrum effectively solved this problem for me.
Some Caveats. This is an optional good practice so is not prescribed by Scrum. Whether it will work for you will depend on factors including:
- Timezone differences of Developers – It can only be a full Evening Daily Scrum if the time you select works well for all attending.
- Flexible working hours – If the organisation has flexible working hours then this will be an extra factor to account for when we set the time for a Daily Scrum.
- And most importantly, the Developers are responsible for the Daily Scrum so the decision on what time to hold the event must rest with them.
So why not give the Evening Daily Scrum it a try? Inspect and see if it works for your team.