Pinpoint Engineering

The TL;DR from my session on AI and EngOps at AIDe...

This morning I had the opportunity to chat with software engineers and data scientists at the AI Dev World Conference on a topic I just happen to be v...

What Should Replace the Stand-Up?

Introspectively, we’ve asked ourselves “Are our stand-ups too micromanage-y?” “Do they provide value to our squads?” “If we get rid of stand-ups, what would we miss? What pain would we experience?”

I even took this discussion to Twitter and our community Slack group. Here’s some of the feedback I got:

  • The need for more brevity in stand-ups
  • Reduce the “what did you do” line of questioning
  • Streamline communication channels for updates
  • It’s hard to remember what you worked on
  • A better way to track items that come up during stand-ups
  • A way to quickly identify if we are on track to sprint goals

We even heard, “Get rid of them.”

There are some solutions out there for replacing “in-person” stand-ups with slack-bot statuses, email reply statuses, etc. but those still feel kind of micromanage-y and as if you are going through the motions rather than providing any value for the actual teams. It seems we need something more useful for our daily workflow.  

We recently launched v1 of our own Stand-Up view in Pinpoint, and get great feedback from users. However, we can do better. For context, here is our stand-up as it is today: 



Our August roadmap includes a “Stand-Up 2.0,” which will improve on our current stand-up view.  We’ve brainstormed some ideas and wanted to share where our head is at the moment. As customer zero, we believe that for anything to work for our users, it must first work for us. So, I decided to present these concepts (that are drafted in Notion) to our internal engineering team to get their input and continue to ideate on features.

Below, I’ve broken down that discussion so you too, can weigh in. 

Our goals for re-imagining the stand-up

We are all familiar with daily stand-ups and the challenges that come with them.  It’s really hard to get an idea of what’s going on with just a list of PRs and Issues. In order to be more useful stand-ups should be answering the following questions:

  • What is being done?
  • Who needs to be in the loop?
  • Who needs help right now?
  • What do others need to know or act on?
  • What work is blocked and how do we unblock it?

In addition to providing valuable information to move work forward, we want to remove any micromanagement and improve individual team member’s visibility of work and system status. 

Here’s the recording of our internal discussion around these goals: 



You may have noticed, that we aren’t referring to it as a “Stand-Up”, rather a “Daily.” I feel the word “stand-up” comes with a lot of baggage. When you call it stand-up, there are some preconceived notions of what features it will include — and features will look different in this reimagined world. 

High-Level Concepts 

The Notebook & Press Release (Name is TBD)

This is the “ship log” for a team. It’s a daily record of what went on, or for “today”, what’s going on. We will start will a Team Notebook but eventually will have Personal Notebooks as well. 

These Notebooks will dynamically combine structured notes with contextual information from systems that include PRs and Issues. Pinpoint will help make suggestions about what should be in your Notebook based on your work and where your focus should be rather than you having to remember it all. 


Planning and Scheduling Work 

Every morning, you need to plan out your day and determine what works needs to be done to help the team deliver on the goals of the sprint.  In the Daily, we want to help you figure out who you need to talk to that day based on your blocked issues, PR activity, comments, etc.


Design Concepts

We started mocking up some sketches on what this might look like in the product to help the team visualize the features. The below video walks through those concepts. 


Feedback and MVP Discussion

After presenting the high-level concepts, the team provided some feedback on if they would find these useful and engaged in some conversation around iterating on the initial concepts and what features could be part of our MVP. 

How to expand the view to our Guilds?

Some of the feedback included expanding this concept beyond the work teams and including similar Daily views for functional teams, or Guilds as we call them. 

What happens when tasks roll over from day-to-day? 

A question was asked how we can use this to get a better handle on when your priority shifts mid-day, leaving some items to roll over to the next day. During the call, the team came up with the idea to have automated action items that you are prompted to check off or auto-suggest closing issues out when the PR is closed. 

How do you capture ideas from informal meetings and conversations?

A lot of discussions happen informally outside of stand-ups and that information gets lost in Jira tickets and Jira notifications aren’t always obvious or helpful. How can we bring more structure to the unstructured discussions and decisions that make them easier to find and track?


Next Steps: Prototyping 

This is a good example of how we ideate on the product — collecting feedback, identifying a problem we need to solve for, brainstorming features and design concepts, and finally collecting feedback from our own teams on those concepts. Now that we’ve worked through those steps, Team NaN can start prototyping this ASAP and get it in the hands of our Early Access users. 


The Daily is now in production in Pinpoint. Watch the video below to see where we ended up. 


Our Epic Card for the Daily MVP so far: 


So, what do you think? Join the community to let us know!


About Rick.

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