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4 Advantages of Physical Task Boards

By David Hawks | Mar 07, 2010 |  Agile,  Article,  Scrum,  ScrumMaster

Example Task BoardFor new teams, I try and encourage them to use a physical task board over tracking tasks in a tool. This can be problematic when all team members are not in the same location, but it has some huge advantages for co-located teams.

Structure of our Task Board:

  • 5 Columns: Planned, In Progress, Verify, Hours Remaining, Complete
  • Each Committed story for the iteration is given a swimlane/ row
  • All Development tasks are on white cards
  • All Testing tasks are on green cards
  • All defects are on hot pink cards
  • Orange sticker dots were used for tasks that are blocked
  • Story cards are 4×6, task cards are 3×5
  • We have used whiteboards with tape or cork board with push pins
  • Daily Standups are done in front of the board, we encourage team members to point at the card during their 3 questions, move cards, burndown hours. Each team member should be signing up for their daily commitment and putting those cards in progress.
  • Hours burndown is updated for each story at end of standup
  • Burndown chart and any other metrics are placed on and around the board – radiate information
  • Should be visible to all team members (i.e. that way when a QA person sees a developer move a task they know to ask if it is ready for testing)

Advantages of Task Boards:

  • Promotes team interaction and discussion – Throughout the day you will see teammates, stakeholders and members of other teams stop by the board for discussion. This increases greatly if the board is located near the team and highly visible
  • Visibility – Anyone walking buy can make a quick second assessment on where the team is in the iteration. No cards left for a row? That story is complete. No white cards left, just green cards? Only testing remains. Lots of pink cards? Lots of defects.
  • Good for new teams to visualize Scrum – By having this tangible thing in front of them that they can touch, makes it easier for new Scrum teams to understand the process
  • Support full team commitment – Now the whole team sees all of the tasks daily and keeps them from just focusing on “their” tasks. When using task tracking tools it is too easy to just create a view of “my tasks” and then tune out the rest.

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