How to run daily standups in Slack

Posted by Luke Thomas
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Are you one of the 12+ million people who use Slack on a daily basis? If you’re like me, you find that Slack is a great way to communicate back and forth with others, especially as a remote team.

With that being said, it can be tough at times to understand what people are working on, especially as a team leader. You want to make sure that the team is aligned, but you also don’t want to hold a meeting (that’s probably inconvenient as the team is located in several time-zones) or act like a micro-manager.

If this rings true, it sounds like you should incorporate daily standups into your work routine. You can use our free standup template to help.

What is a daily standup?

A standup is when people answer the following questions on a daily basis:

  1. What did you do yesterday?
  2. What are you working on today?
  3. Any blockers?

Traditionally, these are in-person meetings, but as a remote team, this is impossible to do. We recommend doing this asynchronously, it’s way better for those on a maker's schedule. We also have written about why we dislike real-time standups in a bit more detail.

We also wrote a complete guide to how daily standup meetings work.

How do daily standups work in Slack?

There’s a variety of ways to hold Slack standups, but it all depends on the following factors:

  • Do you want to keep track of these notes over time?
  • Do you want built-in reminders?
  • Do you want to deliver the notification in the user’s timezone?
  • Do you need reports to share with other stakeholders?

Now that these considerations are out of the way, let’s dive into how to actually set this up.

Easiest and most brittle: Setup a Slack Reminder

The easiest way to get started with a Slack standup is to set up a reminder. You can see exactly how this works in this article.

/remind @devs every weekday at 9am to answer the following questions:

  • What did you do yesterday?
  • What are you doing today?
  • Any blockers?

While this reminder is easy to setup (and free), it is brittle and inflexible. For example, there’s no way to deliver the notification in the user’s timezone. The results are technically stored in the channel, but there’s no reporting options. In addition, if you lead a team, it can be tough to see someone’s contributions over time (responses don’t roll up to an employee profile).

Alternative: Install a Slackbot

If you want something a bit more sophisticated, check out the various Slack apps offered that help you run standups. Most of these apps are similar in that they offer the ability to customize questions, automate reminders, and automatically generate standup reports.

The downside to this approach is that these apps aren’t free. Pricing typically runs about $3/mo per person. Some of these apps allow you to customize who is part of the team, while others will be automatically calculated based on your Slack team size.

P.S - Friday offers a free way to run daily standups in Slack. You can see how this works in the video below:

Unlike other apps, we allow you to completely customize any regular communication at work through our workflow builder. This means you can use Friday for daily standups, but also for any other regular communication (check-ins,sprint retrospectives, etc)

Additionally, we'll automatically create a report that you can share with other stakeholders who are unable to attend the meeting.

What to say when rolling out a standup in Slack

In either scenario, you’ll need to give your team a bit of advance notice to make sure you get buy-in. If you setup a standup cadence and the team doesn’t know, utilization will be low.

We recommend the following template:

"Hey all,

As a distributed team it can be tough to understand what everyone is working on. That's why we've decided to start running daily standups.

What's a standup? It's super simple (and it's not a meeting). You answer three quick questions:

What did you do yesterday?

What are you working on today?

Any blockers?

You can read a bit more about how this works in this article. We'll start by sending a reminder every workday at [insert time here] in [insert slack channel].

Please make sure to complete this as soon as you are able. Thanks!"

Final Thoughts

If you lead a team, we recommend aggregating an individual’s results over time and using them in 1-1 meetings and other development conversations. While the data isn’t comprehensive, it can provide a great foundation for the velocity of work someone is doing.

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