Scrum has no reporting and status tool per se. However, the scrum board serves as a primary collaboration, reporting, and status tool. It is a visual tool which displays the key elements of a scrum sprint. The scrum board shows the sprint status at a glance. The scrum board as a scrum tool can be as large as needed. It can be designed by the development team, to contain the necessary information that they think is needed. It is accessible by all the members. And more importantly, it serves as the sprint roadmap, as well as a subset of the project roadmap.
Scrum Board – Reasons Why You Should Use it
Like most things used in a scrum, the scrum board design and usage is flexible and dependent on how the team wants to use it. While in use, it can be revised as needed. There are several reasons why a development team should use a scrum board. These reasons revolve around convenience, conciseness, and brevity. The scrum board is many things, including the items below.
- It is a visual representation of the work in progress. Most teams would have a column for the tasks in progress, completed tasks and the tasks closed. There are variations to the theme, which include a column for the user stories, the developer responsible for the task, code review, as well as product owner approval. Notes can also be included on a per story, or per backlog basis, this can explain what the backlog is supposed to do or how it is related to other backlogs. The tasks and their movement are open for everyone to see. If there is any problem or obstacle, this can be discussed in the daily scrum.
- Use of color. There are different ways to make use of multi-colored sticky notes. It can be coded for different stories. Each story can be assigned a different color. In a scrum board software, the colors can change depending on the status of the task. White cards can be used for items on the to-do list; green cards are tasks in progress; while pink cards are those with errors. A story row without a card means that it is complete.
- Makes it easy for new members to understand the project. New team members, including the Product Owner and the Scrum Master, can step into the project without disrupting the current flow. The scrum board can provide all the current information needed to understand the items under development, the amount of work needed, and the progress of each task and the sprint itself.
- The development team can design it, or revise it according to their needs. The team can expand the scrum board to include any other content relevant to developing the sprint backlog. New columns can be added, or the scrum board can be incorporated in a larger table or matrix.
- It promotes interaction. Team members choose the tasks they want to do. Members can sign their name on the sticky note before moving it from the to-do list to the tasks in progress column. In instances where the task is expected to take longer to finish due to complexity or dependencies, the members can negotiate among themselves which one can do other tasks. If there’s an obstacle, the members can help each other to move the items on the to-do list.
- The board supports a team view. The whole sprint is seen when viewing the scrum board. Every member’s task is open for others to view. There is the tendency for members to tune out tasks which are not their own. With the scrum board, they can see their contributions in relation to the whole picture.
- It is the sprint backlog. The items on the board constitute the sprint backlog contents. As they move forward from one column to the other, the sprint takes shape, including the increment for the sprint.
- It can be used as a status report. All the members of the team can see how the sprint is coming along. They are better able to appreciate the effort put into the sprint. At the same time, the members can see if there are any work which is lagging. This also shows which team member needs assistance. Stakeholders, including the Product Owner, can view the scrum board and be able to understand the progress of the current sprint.
- The daily scrum can be conducted near the board. This affords the attendees all the notes that they need for the meeting. Dependencies or obstacles can be included in the write up of the individual sprint backlog.
- The scrum board contains all the information about the current sprint. Extending the scrum board, it can include the prior increments. Besides the user stories, it can also include a separate box or area for the product backlogs.
- Scrum boards are easy to use. Whether these are physical boards hanging on a wall, or virtual forms residing on the cloud, the main element moves from one column to the other. Physical boards make use of sticky notes. When a task in progress is finished, it is moved to the next column called tasks completed. When tasks completed have been accepted or approved, these are moved to the tasks closed column.
- The members take responsibility. The product owner is responsible for maintaining the product backlog. From the sprint planning, the scrum master moves the items from the product backlog list to the sprint backlog items. The development team members are responsible for choosing which sticky notes they will work on, and move these from the pool of tasks to be done, to the tasks in progress. There is no need to assign tasks, the team members would take up the tasks themselves.
How does a Scrum Board look like?
The physical scrum board has an expandable design which allows for revisions to include more items, including product backlogs and user stories. It has a couple of columns which may where sticky notes are posted. The columns are titled differently from one team to another.
One team may have: Tasks in Progress; Tasks Complete: and Tasks Closed. Scrum boards may have different columns as well, including User Stories; Not Started; Developer; Code Review; Product Owner Approved; Released; Done. It should be noted teams may have their own definition of “done”, and this may be distinct from “released” and “releasable.”
A scrum board is a table or a matrix. It is possible to include dependencies in the tasks, but these dependencies do not need to be included in the columns. The tasks do not need to be assigned beforehand, and the developer does not need to be named at the start. Naming the developer only makes sense with the Done or Completed tasks for the purpose of acknowledgment and for gamification.
The team may assign points or degrees of difficulty to each task. This is done before the sprint, during the sprint planning. The level of difficulty does not need to be included in the scrum board. Although both the difficulty and the dependency can be included in the notes for each task.
Scrum Boards as Software Tool
The scrum board can be as bare as a whiteboard, which makes it easy to expand as needed. This quality also makes it a prime candidate for a software or app. For teams which have remote members, using a cloud-based scrum board just makes sense.
A scrum board software can include other project management tools, agile tools, or even agile frameworks and methodologies. The simplicity of the scrum board makes it easy to incorporate in other software, or to the board as functionality in other agile software tools.
One tenet of a sprint is the daily scrum where the development team conducts a standup. Originally, the standup was supposed to be a short face to face meeting. However, teams nowadays include flexibility to work offsite or remotely. It is not uncommon to have teams spread across other cities or countries. This necessitates the use of cloud-based software. Fortunately, most available scrum board software or agile project management tools are cloud-based.
The available scrum board software reflects the flexibility of this tool. These apps also incorporate a lot of agile and scrum thinking. The resulting scrum boards are expandable and customizable to include details and links to other parts of the project. Extraneous information can be hidden from view, but otherwise easily accessible. The board may look simple with only the sprint in view.
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