Agile practices in ITSM – part 1: The daily stand-up meeting

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In a series of articles, I will to describe how agile practises can be used within IT Service Management. The articles will focus on teams within the ITSM delivery and not so much on the ITSM methods (such as ITIL). I.e the articles focuses on how to support or make life easier for teams within a service desk rather than “agilify” the ITIL incident process.

I will in this post not go into the conflicting parts of the ITSM gold standard ITIL and most agile methods. For now I can recommend the article ITIL and agile are not always the best of friends, but they sure are not enemies. This article summarizes my thoughts on the matter quite well.

Let’s start with our first agile practice within ITSM: The Daily Stand-up meeting.

The daily stand-up

First of all, the daily stand-up is intended for the team. It is not a status update for an external party, line manager or such. The purpose is to foster and facilitate communication within the team. The size of the team may vary but daily stand-ups in my experience requires a team size between 10 and 4 individuals.

Ideally the meeting takes place at the same time in the beginning of each day and is timeboxed to 10-15 minutes. All team members gather at a specific place and go through the agenda, one by one, standing up (no sitting!). The reason for standing up is to help the team to hold the timebox of 10-15 minutes. Standing up creates a sense of “urgency”. The timeboxing is very important and should be closely moderated. Moderate any longer discussions during the meeting. How issues should or could be resolved should be postponed to after the meeting. If needed, book a separate meeting for that issue.

I suggest the following agenda as a basis:

  1. What did I do yesterday?
  2. What will I do today?
  3. Do I have anything hindering/blocking my work today?

The place to hold the meeting is ideally the team wall or board with the team planning or similar, if you have one.

Benefits from the daily stand-up meeting

So, why is the daily stand-up meeting important also within ITSM? Isn’t this just something only for developers and not for a service desk team?

  • It builds the team.  If you don’t engage with your colleagues regularly it’s hard to identify with the team. This is a productive way of having the team come together on a daily basis.
  • Improves collaboration. The stand-up meetings are meant to promote communication within the team. The stand-up meetings are a good way of bringing up issues they might run into and agree to get someone else within the team to help them out or to get a quick resolution to the problem.
  • Knowledge transfer. This daily routine will result in more information and knowledge being distributed within the team. It will help the team get a wider knowledge on ongoing issues, projects, changes etc.
  • Transparency within the team. With the daily updates everyone in the team is aware of what the others are working on. Perhaps not in detail, but on an high level at least.

Recommendations

To start with I recommend that someone within the team, or if you have a team leader, acts as the moderator for the meeting. This is for making sure that everything runs smoothly and that the meeting holds the timebox. If a meeting does not take the full 10-15 minutes, don’t hesitate to end it before the timebox is over. No one benefits from a longer meeting than necessary. If successfully implemented your team will demand the daily stand-up meeting and that the day cannot really be started until the daily stand-up meeting has been held.

For daily stand-up meeting
For daily stand-up meeting space on team board

I usually add a general information point at the end of the daily stand-up meeting agenda. Here general information can be distributed within the team. This agenda point is after all team members have gone through their updates. Since we have a team board for our team, we also have a space on that board where members of the team can add points to discuss (using Post IT notes). This requires some monitoring on the incoming notes so that too big issues are not brought to the meeting.

For teams that have several shifts the daily stand-up can be performed between each shift. It can be performed with one (or more) representative from the shift leaving in the meeting. They can start with a handover of the current situation and what is important to know for the incoming shift. After the handover the normal agenda can follow.

Make sure to moderate also if you have passive or non engaged participants. If the meeting is filled with social talk, participants are regularly late or there is low energy during the meeting you might need to moderate this as well. Ask questions, have discussions or start the daily stand-up with some stretch exercises. And also: NO DEVICES DURING THE MEETING!

Further reading

Ps. With the term team board I refer to, in our case, a physical whiteboard located near the team with our team information (schedules, working agreements, agile planning and more). I will cover some parts of the team board later postings.

Follow Jonas Carlsson:

Agile coach

I am an Agile coach with background in development and infrastructure.

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