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Tools to Help with Distributed Daily Scrum

Because the Daily Scrum is such a short meeting and focuses on verbal responses to three questions, there is little need for tools. However, a chat tool, wiki or other repository, and a full-duplex phone can be helpful.

Chat tools can be a distraction for some team members, but they can also be valuable in cases where a team is having language issues. The person who is having difficulty understanding someone else's responses can ask questions through chat without disrupting the Daily Scrum. The team may want to cut and paste or save the chat transcript to a wiki for future reference.

A wiki or other repository can be helpful for sharing Daily Scrum notes. Notes can be helpful in communicating with team members who are unable to attend a given Daily Scrum as discussed earlier in this chapter.

If part of the team is calling in from a conference room and using a speakerphone, it should be a full-duplex phone. With half-duplex phones, participants can only hear only one speaker at a time, either the team members in the room or an individual dialed into the teleconference separately. If someone goes on and on without pausing, it can be impossible to interrupt their monologue. With only 1–2 minutes granted for each person, this can be a major obstacle to hearing every team member within 15 minutes. Fortunately, the telephone buttons will still work while the person is speaking, so the ScrumMaster or a team member can push a button to get the attention of the other person. But, this is not ideal. Invest in a full-duplex phone if possible.

Videoconferencing tools offer mixed results. From performance issues to setting the camera so everyone is visible to the time needed to set up the Daily Scrum, videoconferencing today may be more of a headache than it is worth. There are, however, teams that have had success with using a wide-angle web camera for the Daily Scrums.

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