Project Management

Why We Moved to an Asynchronous Standup

Daily Standups help us identify potential risks very early in the project. Whether via input from other developers, designers, or from project stakeholders, Daily Standups allow us to see potential challenges, launch issues, and missing requirements, all while the project is in an inactive project state.

Moving away from in-person stand ups allows us to be more flexible in terms of where we work. We have the tools in place which will enable us to be flexible and remote as needed. Many of the project support team members are working on a variety of projects and often do not have time to attend the in-person standups so that the asynchronous approach will provide more visibility to all. Also, the asynchronous method will give individual contributors more control as they are pushing information to other team members instead of Project Managers pulling project details.

Each team member plays a specific role in the asynchronous standup, we will review the roles our Project Managers, Individual Contributors, and Technical Leads play.

The individual contributor will review their project board and move the needed tickets and add comments to any tickets that have updates as soon as they start their day. If the Individual Contributor updates the task management tool timely, their involvement in Daily Standup will be minimal as they are pushing all of the needed information, which reduces the amount of time someone needs to ask them questions and interrupt their focus time. It’s important to remember that silence is not always golden! Don’t assume that everything is going as planned or that everyone assumes things are fine.

Daily the project manager will review the project board and comment on issues past due, upcoming and not in progress, or those awaiting approval for an extended amount of time. After reviewing the tickets, the Project Manager will provide a quick summary of what the task board states and will ask the project team if there are any blockers or support needed within the project communication channel (at Underbelly this happens within the Progress tab in Asana). The project summary will be as simple as stating if Asana is or is not showing any red flags, confirm all tasks are moving along well, and confirming with the team that they have the needed support and changing the risk level to reflect this update. The individual contributor is required to acknowledge this message by commenting or liking.

Each morning the Technical Lead will review tasks assigned to them and discuss any blockers the team has stated through Daily Standup notes and comment that tasks have been reviewed. The Technical Lead plays a big role in project quality so it is important they need review all tasks timely.

We have seen drawbacks using this approach as blockers may not be addressed right away. In face-to-face standups, when a team member points out that they are currently blocked, there is often a live discussion that takes place after standup to address it. As a result, team members may need to be more diligent about bringing awareness to their blockers. Keep this drawback in mind as you evaluate your standups.


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