Why we replaced written dailies with synchronous dailies

TL;DR: Through trials and feedback, we gradually transition from written to synchronous dailies. When the entire team work on the same project, synchronous dailies win by making unblocking faster

Going from asynchronous (written) to synchronous (spoken) dailies

Foreword : we don’t follow scrum, but we have dailies just like it.

This is the story of how dailies in our team evolved in the past 12 months. The team size ranged from 6 to 9, including product managers.

  • We started with written dailies on Slack, through the help of Geekbot, a tool we really liked and had already been using for more than a year. At the start of the day, the slack bot asks questions (how are you, what are you working on, any blockers, etc) and the answers are posted to a channel. 5 written daillies a week.
  • To organize our week, we added a “team meeting” on Mondays. This team meeting was synchronous and we ended it with a synchronous daily, we were down to 4 written daillies, 1 sync.
  • A few months later, we had a company-wide and time-sensitive objective. To allow faster unblocking, we replace another written daily with a synchronous daily over Google Meet. The purpose of the daily was answering the question “what’s preventing us from reaching the objective, what will we do about it today?”. 3 written dailies, 2 sync.
  • In the retrospective about this company-wide objective, the feedback on synchronous dailies was unanimously positive, so we decided to stay with this rhythm of 3 written dailies and 2 sync dailies.
  • Later, feedback on synchronous dailies was still positive, so we decided to go 100% with sync dailies. We left the Geekbot tool enabled for those working alone on projects that are not the main focus of the team. 0 written dailies, 5 sync.
  • After a month, there was very little use of the written tool, so we disabled it

Our takeaways on sync vs written dailies

  • Pros of written dailies: 1) one fewer meeting, 2) we can catch up by reading the messages, and go back to them when needed, 3) we can take our time to prepare and write what we want to communicate, 4) we get more flexible working hours
  • Pros of sync : 1) more social interactions within the team, 2) faster unblocking, we get immediate reaction when asking for help. This was enough benefits to overcome the drawbacks
  • We also learned that synchronous dailies works best when the entire team is working on the same project

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