Scrum Board Awesomeness – Part Two!

7 February 2017 | About a 5 minute read
Tags: Agile, agile manifesto, Daily Scrum, refinement, Retrospective, Scrum, Sprint Planning

Welcome Back! This is second part of your two part series on building an awesome Scrum Board! If you want to read the first part – click here. In the first part we covered the first four steps (1) A Clear Structure, (2) Make it Personal, (3) A Sprint Goal, (4) “Definition of Ready” and “Definition of Done”. In this blog we are going to cover the remaining five steps. At this stage I am sure you just want me to jump right into my remaining tips….Let’s end the suspense….

5. A Sprint Calendar

“Where should we be?”, “Sorry I’m late, I didn’t realise we had Planning first thing”, “I have a conflict”, “Can we move Refinement?” – Let us put an end to these apologies and questions. How? Use a Sprint Calendar and stick it on your Scrum Board.

The idea of the Sprint calendar is to install a certain routine for meetings so that it becomes natural. A Sprint calendar helps to realise our main three objectives during a Sprint :

  1. Deliver the stories committed
  2. Prepare the next sprint
  3. Improve as a team

What to include on your Sprint Calendar

  • Sprint Start and End Date
  • Current Day of Sprint
  • Time of Daily Standup
  • Date and Time of:
    • Sprint Review
    • Sprint Retrospective
    • Sprint Planning
    • Backlog Refinement

And remember – No More Excuses!!!

6. Sprint Progress

First, clearly display your current Story Point Commitment! Don’t hold back, be loud and proud.

“Ahhhhhhhhhh we are half way through the Sprint and I have no idea where we are going, will we finish everything and meet our Sprint Goal” – Everyone, just take a second and breathe, allow me to draw your attention to this very handy Sprint Burndown on our Scrum Board. The burndown represents the actual progression compared to a plan. It should be displayed in a ‘strategic’ position of the Scrum Board so that it gets high visibility. A Burndown can tell you quite a lot about a team, not just how they are performing in their current Sprint. A cliff-face might indicate dependencies between stories, adding more stories could mean an issue with understanding capacity – and there are many more examples! You can’t read a book by its cover, but you might be able to read a team by its burndown.

Another consideration for inclusion on your Scrumboard (if you still have space that is), is a Velocity Chart. This will give an indication on how well the team is meeting its commitment and whether its capacity is improving. If you are using JIRA this can be quite easily be tracked using one of their standard Sprint reporting features.

7. Make it Visible

There is absolutely no reason to have a Scrum Board if no one can see it. It should not be hidden away at the back of the room, or dragged into the managers office and only wheeled out for the Daily Scrum.

Now lets assume everyone can see the board, what matters now? In a room of paintings, how do you spot the Da Vinci? For me, this is the delicate balance between readability and usability. It should give a clear, quick and transparent status update to everyone interested (it could be managers, project managers, …). The question you must ask yourself – Does it pass the hallway usability test: a person who has never seen it before can understand it quickly and without explanation.

VISIBLE – you can’t avoid it when entering the room – a good way of answering questions without having to ask the team

BIG – Everyone sees it, knows where it is and just by looking knows where we are

COLOUR – Catches the eye and can make the board more appealing. When using colour be careful of avoiding “Colour Blindness” – using so many colours on the board it is not clear what each colour means and what is going on, and also associating a colour with a person – “the guys who do the pink work”

8. Make it Interactive

Similar to making your Scrum Board visible, it should also encourage people to interact with it. It should function as a constantly changing Scrum tool which helps your team achieve its Sprint Goal – it is not to be setup and admired as a shrine to your planning for a Sprint. Make it appealing for people to touch and play with it; moving post-its from one column to another, adding blocked stickers, sticking your name tag or avatar on a ticket – and remember, once your name is on it, then it is yours. No Takesy Backsies! Again, similar to point seven; if everyone in the team can see it then everyone in the team can update it. The Scrum Board visibly captures their plan for the Sprint, they own the plan so they also own its progression!

Two simple further bits of advice:

  1. Use and update the Scrum Board at any time during the day
  2. Do not just move the tasks during the Daily Scrum meeting

Finally – if you are using a whiteboard, try to ask for a wheeled one! And make it Magnetic!

9. Inspect & Adapt

In line with the Agile approach, the team should take every opportunity to inspect their use of the Scrum Board and adapt if needed! Try new things, keep the ones that work and discard others. There is no perfect way to structure a Scrum Board and different Boards suit different teams – what worked for one team may not necessarily work for another. What I have outlined in this post are just some helpful tips which might be useful when setting up and using your Scrum Board, not the rulebook. An Awesome Scrum Board is one that helps the team successfully deliver their Sprint and meet their Sprint Goal! But remember, the whole teams owns the Board – not just those poor Scrum Masters.

And Yes! that is it…..anything I might have missed!? Please feel free to add your tips or pictures to the comments below. Otherwise, enjoy building your awesome Scrum Boards!

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