Four years ago, I needed to design a Scrum board to use with my teams. Teams moved around a lot, so I wanted something I could enlarge and laminate so we could easily roll up the scrum boards and move them. We also didn’t have to depend on having white boards or cork boards in the area, we could just attach the Scrum board to any vertical surface – a door or a window, if necessary. Of course, that meant the board should be useful in both a horizontal or vertical configuration. Laminating the boards meant we could customize it to suit each team. A simple package of washable markers would take care of that.
What resulted is the best tool I have ever used. I have used and reused that same template for many purposes over the last four years. The most common use is the basic Scrum Board as shown above. Along the top are the common statuses used by my software development teams. Along the side would be headings for User Stories or XP pairs or development themes. The colored boxes are sticky notes, which contains the tasks or deliverables. Since my teams did both development and support, the pink sticky notes have special significance. They indicate showstoppers – new tasks added to the sprint that needed immediate attention. They were also sometimes used to show impediments. From a manager’s perspective, this was also a great visual indicator of how things were going with a team. If the Scrum Board started turning pink, they were clearly having problems. Some teams further colour-coded the sticky notes to indicate particular things such as work added during the sprint, particular types of tasks, etc.
One of the first boards I created is the 4×6 foot Scrum of Scrum boards that hung in my office at my last company. It started out as a Scrum of Scrum board, but I have also used it as a planning board in a variety of configurations. The example shown on the right is what I used for creating, prioritizing and burning down my last department’s backlog. Each column was a pillar of what we covered (e.g. Outsourcing Process) or needed from another department (e.g. HR, IT, etc.). I only had three priority levels so the bottom section of the board became the “Done!” section. Since most of my meetings were held in my office, including the Scrum with my managers, the board got updated as items got addressed. An additional tip on using the board in this configuration: only a certain number of sticky notes fits in each box. This forced us to prioritize – once the P1 box was full, the next item had to be P2. In this case, the colors of the sticky notes represents a color for each of the different teams in my department, so it was easy to identify owner. The pink sticky-notes still indicate the most important or blocking items.
Some projects or parts of projects do not work well with Scrum. In video game development, the art assets are often built with a set sequence of steps and should be worked on in a continuous flow. For these teams, it makes more sense to use Kanban. Did I need to create a new board? Nope! Change the headings along the top and on the side and it’s now a Kanban board. Like with the planning board, the boxes can only hold a specified number of sticky-notes. The colour-coding can either indicate type of asset or tasks or, at a certain point in the process, parallel actions, with a different colour representing a different specialization.
Finally, I have most recently used the large planning board to do long-term scheduling for our project. Each of the rows represented a month of the next seven months, each column represented a team and the sticky notes were a set of deliverables needed at certain points in development. Even though I have been an agile project manager since before I knew what Agile was, the reality is that some project still have a sequence of events. In addition, the publishing side of the business has a PMO that has certain planning expectations. More on those topics in a future post. The planning board helped us visualize the project. We then used the washable markers and wrote on the board what positions we needed to hire and when in order to meet our goals. The photo below is my negotiation with Product Owner Donny as I was trying to figure out how to configure the board. For more details, please see my post on Visual Project Planning.
If you would like to try the template on your own project, you can get it here: Scrum-ban-plan Board Template.
If you have your own Scrum/Kanban/Planning template that you love to use, I would love to hear about it in the comments.
- Visual Project Planning With The Scrum-ban-plan Board
- 4 Essentials of Agile Project Planning
- How Scrum Can Improve Team Productivity
- Using The Scrum-ban-plan Board To Define Teams
- How NOT To Implement Agile