Standup meetings are an essential part of the agile software development process, but many times they can turn into something they are not entirely intended for. Standup meetings are meant to be brief summaries about the work that team members completed the day before and intend to do that day. These summaries are supposed to be broad, and just give everyone else on the team an overview of what it is happening.
Many times, though, team members will get too bogged down in the details, with highly technical and/or specific questions that have no place in a brief standup meeting. Not only do these types of conversations make the meeting drag on, it also hinders from other team members not fully involved in the conversation from getting to the work that they need to. The problem becomes harder for remote teams or companies with several branches in different locations.
Many teams have adopted a fairly new chat program called Slack, which is similar to Skype, but with many more features, such as build in integrations with many productivity tools offering you a transparent view of all that’s going on. With Slack, agile teams can keep running conversations going in an easy to manage and easy to access online environment. But, the standup meeting still has not been integrated natively into Slack, which leaves teams, especially those with remote members trying to find a separate tool.
Enter GeekBot, the first truly asynchronous stand up bot that works right inside of Slack. Teams with remote member numbers starting at just one will notice the difference immediately after setting up GeekBot, with its synchronicity being the standout feature.
With GeekBot, members in different time zones will no longer have to rearrange their schedules in order to accommodate a 5-15 minute meeting. Now, they will be able to simply answer the questions set up by the team leader beginning at the chosen time and post them in the #status channel. GeekBot will not be nagging team members, but it will remind them with a private message 10 minutes after the bot will see them online.
This is great for agile teams that do not necessarily care for forcing their team members to work the same exact hours that they do on the other side of the world. It is also great for teams with members that are spread across a nation like the United States, and are just a few hours apart.
In fact, there does not even need to be a time difference in this standup meeting bot to be useful. Just the fact that team members can easily type out what they have done and what they are doing today within a larger time window instead of possibly interrupting something they were doing makes the bot a huge asset. This is especially true when there is a member of the team that finds it a hindrance to stop their coding or designing to attend a very short meeting that might not even be affecting them at all that day. Now, it will not matter if they show up late, standup can easily start without them because they will not miss anything that is said.
One complaint that some developers make regarding daily standup meetings is that they feel rushed to give answers and sometimes key aspects of the progress they have made or obstacles they have faced are forgotten because they are put on the spot to talk in front of the entire team.
GeekBot gives time for people to compose their answers and even edit them if they forget something without having to interrupt someone else on the team and derailing the conversation. It also reduces the urge to talk directly to someone within the confines of the standup meeting, since the questions are predetermined and then sent out to all members via the Slack channel.
For an agile development team that uses Slack, Geekbot is a no brainer for your asynchronous meetings. It gives teams all of the benefits of having the standup meeting with everyone in attendance, while giving the flexibility that remote workers really require in their daily lives, from work and home are generally combined in their cases. With the amount of problems that this simple slack integration solves, it makes no sense not to give it a shot.