- Sydney Cohen
Standup meetings are a critical part of Agile software development methodologies. When held correctly, standups are very useful in understanding the current project status. Bots can help streamline standup meetings and make them more effective.
What is Agile Methodology?
Till quite recently, software companies used the waterfall method to develop applications. In this approach, the different stages of software development – analysis, design, development, testing, and implementation – flow sequentially. Each phase is completed before starting the next. This approach has significant drawbacks. For large projects, the time from inception to delivery can take months or even years. The customer’s requirements may change in response to market conditions. But the development team cannot address these changes because of the inflexibility of the waterfall method.
A group of industry veterans created the Agile framework to solve this problem.
Agile is an iterative approach to software development. Developers deliver small upgrades at a regular cadence instead of a big-bang delivery at the end. This helps the customer evaluate the product frequently and provide early feedback. Developers use the feedback to improve the product, resulting in increased customer satisfaction.
What is a standup?
Agile developers can follow different methodologies, the best-known ones being Scrum and Kanban. Most of them mandate a daily huddle called a “standup.” This meeting is kept short (Scrum recommends a maximum of 15 minutes), so participants remain standing.
All the core team members attend the standup. Standups vary with teams, but a common agenda is that everyone talks about:
- What they worked on yesterday
- What they are going to work on today
- What issues are blocking them
This data enables the team to assess whether they are on schedule to meet their commitments.
How to run a standup
A well-run standup not only provides status but also inspires and invigorates the team. Team members should come prepared with their updates and keep them brief and relevant.
Any significant issues that come up should not be addressed in the standup. The team should schedule other meetings to discuss them. Impediments that require coordination with other departments (such as Product or IT) are typically handled by a Project Manager or Scrum Master.
Some other tips for running great standup meetings are to hold them at the same time and place every day, begin and end on time, and periodically review their effectiveness at the retrospectives.
The best Slack standup bot for engineering teams
While beneficial, the daily standups can be monotonous and energy-sapping. Using software bots to asynchronously record responses to the three standard questions can alleviate this. Here is an opiniated shortlist of four Standup Bot for Slack:
|Tool||What we like||Asynchronous||Pricing||Top 3 features||API|
|1. Parabol Standups||Customizable and comprehensive||Yes|
here is a free plan covering up to 2 teams. Beyond that usage $6 per active user, which gives access to retrospectives, sprint poker estimation, team check-ins, post-mortems, and other meeting types.
- Enterprise plan also available.
- Review updates on a single page without clutter of multiple Slack threads
- Customizable standup prompts + library of templates
- Bundled activities like retrospectives and sprint poker estimation included in free tier
|2. Dailybot||Has many addons, can also do Kudos and cover all messaging tools.||Yes|
- There is a Free Plan, a Basic Plan ($3/user/month), a Standard Plan ($5), and an Enterprise Plan (contact them for pricing).
- As the price increases, more features become available.
- Custom templates
- Anonymous check-ins
- Advanced Kudos
|Available for Standard and Enterprise users.|
|3. Spinach.io||Simple, and integrate well for synchronous communication with video calls.||No|
- Free for one team with one standup (unlimited users)
- $6/month/user otherwise
- Supports live and async standups
- Provides clear updates
- Increases accountability
|4. Troopr||Robustely integrated with Jira||Yes|
- The Pro version supports 3 teams (each with unlimited users) for $49/month for one Slack workspace
- The Premium version is $129/month for 10 teams.
- The Unlimited version with any number of teams costs $299/month.
- Built-in templates for all scrum activities
- Automated reports and insights
- Deep Jira integration
|5. GeekBot||Well designed for HR.||Yes|
- The “Start-up” version is free for teams of 10 or fewer.
- The “Scale-up” version costs $2.5 per user per month and comes with a free 30-day trial.
- Contact them for a quote for the “Enterprise” version.
- Activity viewer
- Team happiness
- Available templates
Screenshots from those apps:
So, which of them is the best? It depends on your requirements. You should choose from the available tools based on your team size, budget, and specific needs. You won’t go wrong with any of these tools.