Tom Nason Team : Project Manager Tags : Web Development Business Management

Stand up and increase your team's productivity

Tom Nason Team : Project Manager Tags : Web Development Business Management

Just as with construction projects, large scale web application development is a complex undertaking that requires collaboration between a variety of skillsets.

User experience specialists, designers, technical architects, front end developers, back end engineers and testers all need to work together to deliver the end product. With this many moving parts coordination is essential. Even small hiccoughs can waste weeks in man hours, burn deep holes in the budget, delay launches and crush team morale.

So how can we ensure that everyone is on the same page and working together efficiently? Communication is clearly key but given the nature of digital projects we often find ourselves relying on email and instant messaging rather than engaging face to face. A text based exchange tends to box the conversation in and leaves little room for discovery. This isn’t great for teamwork or knowledge exchange.

A daily stand up meeting on the other hand brings the team together, synchronises their work and helps surface any potential issues that might be standing in the way of progress.


The concept of a simple daily meeting might not sound ground breaking but the benefits are far reaching, and at the cost of only 15 minutes per day it’s really quite difficult to argue their value.

  1. The daily exchange encourages a collaborative culture where the team takes ownership of the product and coordinate amongst themselves to achieve the end result
  2. Team members become accountable to their peers as they make commitments to the group rather than to a manager
  3. The manager spends less time acting as a messenger and more time resolving issues that are inhibiting the teams progress
  4. Potential problems are often avoided entirely before have a chance to surface
  5. The quality of the end product increases as the team has more opportunities to discuss improvements and new features amongst themselves


The aim here is not to force a daily project status update, but rather to focus on the team’s smaller, more immediate tasks and achievements. The session should be energizing and provide the team with the motivation to hit the ground running.

The key is to keep the meeting quick, 15 minutes at most. Discussions regarding specific features or problems should be taken offline. Standing up might seem optional but it helps reinforce the need for speed.

There are three questions that the team leader, or scrum master in an Agile environment, will ask of each team member.

  1. What did you achieve yesterday?
  2. What will you achieve today?
  3. Is there anything standing in your way?

Managers who aren't running daily meetings will likely find themselves asking individuals these questions over the course of the day anyway, so why not do it together?

Less interruptions = more focus = increased productivity.


  1. Timing is everything – Set a daily time and stick to it. Holding the meeting up for latecomers wastes time and will destroy the focus of those who have already kicked off for the day.
  2. Track progress visually – Use a KANBAN board or task list on a whiteboard to document the team’s commitments and cross tasks off as they are completed.
  3. Ensure commitments are achievable in one day or less – It’s important that tasks are cycled in and out on a daily basis. Lengthy tasks like “Implement the 4 step registration flow” will sit on the board for days and absorb momentum. Instead, break larger tasks down. “Code registration form fields – Step 1” and “Write international phone number validator” are both good examples of small, testable outputs.
  4. Take note of recurring issues – These should be raised and discussed in a retrospective meeting at the end of a sprint or period of work.
  5. Avoid micromanagement – As a leader it’s easy to fall in to the habit of defining and delegating each and every task. The goal here is to nurture a self-organising team and your role is that of a facilitator rather than a dictator. Don’t be that guy. Let the team do the talking.

Stand ups are largely documented as being part of the Agile software development methodology but the concept can easily be applied under other project management approaches, and even other industries.

So why not trial fast paced daily meetings with your teams next project? Within a few weeks you’ll be kicking yourself for not starting earlier.