Saturday, June 22, 2013

SCRUM - What’s the best SCRUM board

Do you even have a SCRUM board? Sure you do, you are a computer guy and you have lots of tools to your disposable. You keep track of user stories in TFS or Excel or some other system, but you let the computer manage it.  So this is my take on it, if you need to show a computer screen to see your SCRUM board, then its probably not a very good SCRUM board. I say this because I have done that. I used TFS, print shots, I showed status in Excel with lots of colors and guess what... no one was reading it. So I decided to try something new, instead of computerized board I used sticky notes and put them on a physical board. Ok, I know this is not very green, still at least I didn’t use a projector that takes lots of energy.

The reason the board worked is because we love to touch stuff. There is some level of pleasure when we take a sticker and move it from “in progress” to “done”. We actually feel a sense of accomplishment. Or if we have a big impediment on a story, we love to take a red marker and write it on the sticky note so its in your face and in red. Not only the team loved the new board, the product owner and the stakeholders loved it too. It was right there in the open, you can just walk into the room and see it. In one glance you know how your sprint is going. No need to scroll up or down, click the mouse or use any special program. Just use your eyes and look at the board and you know right away if we are in good shape or not

As time went by I improved my board. Instead of hand writing everything I started to print the stories from TFS using the mail merge feature from word into nice labels. Sticky notes didn't work well all the time because they started to fall down and it was not compatible with my printing method. I switched to a cork board instead, using pins to stick the stories on it. ( I used painting tape to make the columns (not done, in progress, in testing, done). This works the best, because I didn’t need to buy sticky notes anymore and just use the printer.

We made it a rule that the board should be updated as often as possible, or at least during the SCRUM daily stand up meeting. We all love our new board, and having done it this way I will never use the computer version again.

Hold on! what about remote users who can’t see the board? To this I say bring the board to them. You can take pictures of it using your smartphone, or you can use a webcam on a laptop to show them the board. You can put a laptop in front of it broadcasting the board 24 / 7, and use that computer to Skype other remote team members.

With this I must say, low tech works. we even like to decorate our board with happy faces if things go well, and just have fun with it.

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