19 August, 2007

Recording daily stand-up

One of the things we've done on our project that has really helped is to record our daily stand-up meetings with a digital voice recorder and post the recordings to our team Wiki.

Our old CTO was big on written status reports, and asked everyone on my team to spend fifteen minutes every day writing status reports into their news space on our Confluence server. It inevitably takes half an hour to write a "fifteen minute" status report, which adds up to two and a half hours per week per person... or 6% of our capacity.

The next day, right before stand-up, I noticed a USB voice recorder on our product manager's desk. I decided to try making that the "talking stick" for our stand-up instead of the stuffed animal that we had been using. By passing the recorder as a talking stick, we got a good quality recording of each speaker's voice, and the fact that it was a USB digital recorder made it trivial to get the recordings off at the end of the meeting and post them to my daily reports in Confluence.

The recordings have been a huge hit. Our old CTO loved them (though they failed to fend off the written reporting requirement), and they quickly spread to the rest of upper management. Since we finish our stand-up meetings in ten minutes, they're short enough to fit into a busy executive schedule, and because they're recordings, they're asynchronous, and can be listened to between meetings or while doing other tasks. Our CEO is now a regular listener, among others... and other groups that hadn't been standing up are now doing so, having trained themselves by listening to our model. Also, because we can offer the recordings to all interested parties, there's less pressure for "chickens" to be physically present in the meeting, although that's less of a concern for us because we're located in a different city from the rest of the company. (Naturally, the recordings have helped to bridge that distance.)

A couple of weeks ago, I needed to work from home for half a day to take some lengthy phone meetings without disturbing our team, and I had the opportunity to actually use the recording to catch up with what the team was doing. It really worked, and in fact, I picked up some important status information from it that I was able to use in my phone conference with our investors. Having the recordings also gives us a lot of valuable institutional memory, for no additional cost beyond having morning stand-up, which we were going to have done anyway.

Memo to myself: investigate how much it would cost to have a transcription service transcribe our stand-ups... or better yet, look into speech-to-text options.

Coda: We're still doing regular Confluence reports, but they've morphed from a status reporting function (which is now fulfilled by recording stand-up) to a record of technical details to be communicated to other team members. We've kept them, because they've become valuable.

1 comment:

Serene said...

What a totally great idea!