The Action Engineering team embraces an Agile mindset & Scrum practices in our work.
In our Agile articles, we share tips & coaching opportunities that work well for us.
In theory, the scrum board is a simple thing. It is a board with three columns: to-do, doing, and done. But if you’ve ever tried to run a project using a physical board with just those three columns, you’ll understand that the real world is more complex.
The first issue is the use of a physical board. In today’s society, where social distancing dictates how we work and interact, having a physical board the entire team stands around every morning is just asking to be the next COVID-19 hotspot. Thankfully, there are an overwhelming number of companies that provide virtual scrum boards to fit any team’s needs and budget.
At Action Engineering, we use Wrike as our agile toolset. While it is possible to use something like Excel as a homegrown scrum board, it has major limitations like poor accessibility, inability to drag and drop cards, and requiring a central storage location. Tools such as Wrike offer apps and user-friendly interfaces, and are hosted on the cloud so everyone can access it from anywhere.
The second issue often encountered when setting up a scrum board is that the work doesn’t fit neatly into the three traditional columns of to-do, doing, and done. Ever wake up in the middle of the night with a brilliant idea and scribble it down on a notepad? Often times this idea needs a bit of work before it can be popped into a “to-do” column. Other times, you’re working on something and need a coworker to review, but they’re off for the day so they can attempt to get their kiddos into the swing of virtual learning. This task really isn’t something that you’re doing, as you’re waiting for your coworker.
The Action Engineering team solved these dilemmas by breaking our scrum board out into a few more columns. We use the following columns: Backlog, Ready, This Sprint, Doing, Waiting, and Done. The backlog gives us a space to drop ideas that might not be fully formed. Work can slide over into the ready column when it is defined, and has acceptance criteria. Then work is taken from the ready column intot his sprint once the product owner and dev team deem it a priority. The waiting column is where work is placed when work is on a pause or under review.
The beauty of Agile is that nothing is set in stone. You can try something new for a sprint; if it doesn’t work, no big deal. A scrum board is not something that should dictate how your team works, but instead be used as a tool to make the team more productive.
If you think your scrum board is running the show, send us a message and we’ll be happy to help you figure out a way to make your scrum board work for you and your team!
Former Agile Team Lead,