The Best Scrum-ban-plan Board Ever!

February 19, 2012


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.

Example Scrum Board

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.

Example Planning Board using the same template

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.

Using the board for scheduling

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.

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About Liza Wood

After a dozen years leading video game development projects in a variety of roles, I decided to pursue a Master of Data Science at the University of British Columbia. Studying data science doesn’t mean I’m moving away from leading people. Growing data science teams need collaborative, pragmatic, Agile leadership to connect data to all areas of the business. I would like to share that point of view, along with my experiences, on this blog.

View all posts by Liza Wood

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10 Comments on “The Best Scrum-ban-plan Board Ever!”

  1. thehappinessbucket Says:

    I absolutely love this idea and will work to incorporate it not only at work but also at home. I read your post on PMI regarding someone using it a home and as soon as I saw and read it, it makes so much sense! Since I also help people organize and declutter their homes it would be a great way of managing all the various projects they want to accomplish in a visual matter so they don’t get overwhelmed! Hats off to you Liza!


    • Liza Wood Says:

      Thank you so much! I was so delighted when the designer on my team told me she was using the board at home. The other home kanban examples were also really inspiring.


  2. markslawler Says:

    Reblogged this on Mark Lawler and commented:
    I sometimes hear from teams who haven’t embraced Agile that it “doesn’t fit the type of work we do.” They insist on continuing to manage their workflow and efforts over e-mail and spreadsheets. Take a look at this board and how can you not envision running any effort this way quite easily?



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