• Von Arjan de Jong
  • Veröffentlicht am Dienstag, 10. Januar 2017 - 10:04

Using taskboards correctly

You have just received your whiteboard or pinboard, unpacked and put it in your team room. Now what?

In this article I would like to talk about using a taskboard. I'm assuming that the team already decided to use a physical taskboard, and has that board available.The first step would be to come up with an initial lay-out. In general, I recommend to start with an easy set-up, you can always add columns or swimlanes in a later stage. The columns and lanes described in our previous blog on physical taskboards are a good starting point.

Before the sprint has started

Once the initial structure has been decided upon, the team will start using the board. The initial content of your board will come out of the Sprint Planning. At first, the team will commit to a Sprint Goal and select the user stories that will be developed as part of that goal. Put both the Sprint Goal and the user stories on the board. Putting the Sprint Goal on the board will give the team direction. In the second part of the Sprint Planning, the team will create a plan how to complete the Sprint Goal by the end of the Sprint. This planning will be done by creating tasks for the user stories. I've seen many teams who split up to create the tasks ("I'll handle the testing tasks", "I'll create the tasks for the first story, you can create the tasks for the second story"), but this will not result in a team-plan. Try to create the tasks together using brainstorm techniques.
For example, give each team member some post-its and a pen, and then let them write down all the tasks for the user story they can think of (even the tasks they might not do themselves). Read the tasks out aloud as you put them in the middle of the table, but don't discuss them in detail yet. This method should create a lot of tasks. Once everyone is out of ideas, look at the tasks in the middle of the table. Sort out the double tasks, clarify tasks that aren't understood, create new tasks if some are found to be missing, and put them on the board. Repeat this for every user story, and the team will have a shared understanding of the work to be done.
Another way of creating this plan is to ask the Development Team to draw the solution for a story on a whiteboard or flipchart. After the discussion, all that needs to be done is to write a task for every box or line on the resulting diagram.

During the Sprint

During the Sprint, team members who have finished a task will move this task to done and pick a new task to work on, putting it in progress. There is no reason to wait for the Daily Scrum to move tasks! If everyone moves their tasks as soon as they are started or finished, it will always be fairly easy to see what task should logically come next. Perhaps this has already been discussed in the Daily Scrum, or a short ad hoc discussion will take place in front of the taskboard as needed.

The Daily Scrum

During the Daily Scrum, the team members reviews what they have done to reach the Sprint Goal, what they will do in the next 24 hours to reach the Sprint Goal, and if they see anything impeding their progress.
By doing this in front of the board, the current situation is right there, and discussions of the team can focus on the most important areas: highest prioritized work that isn't done yet. In addition, any changes made to the plan (adding forgotten tasks or removing an unnecessary task) are immediately highly visible and open for a discussion if the team thinks this is necessary.

During the retrospective

The task board can be an excellent inspiration during retrospectives. Seeing the board that held the plan for the last 2 weeks can help team members to bring forward topics. In addition, the burndown chart and defect lane give an excellent insights in how the team was performing in the last Sprint.
Instead of bringing the board, the ScrumMaster can also provide the team with a timelapse video of the board. This can also be an excellent source of information.

Make the board your own

The team owns the board. Many teams show this clearly, by adding their team name to the board and creating avatars for themselves.
In addition, as owners of the board, the team decides how to accept new issues on their board. Although the team should pick up any defect found in their product, the team decides how these defects are given to the team. Teams can ask the reporter to personally discuss the defect with a team member, use a mailbox or any other way they can think of. Of course, a face-to-face conversation should be preferred if at all possible.

Transparency

According to the Scrum Guide, "Three pillars uphold every implementation of empirical process control: transparency, inspection, and adaptation". As such, use taskboards to be as transparent as possible. A team might decide to enhance the taskboard with a sprint burndown chart, actions cards from retrospectives or a knowledge matrix.
Impediments should also be highly visible. This will show the team and anyone watching that there is a dangerous stumbling block that could block the team's progress toward the Sprint Goal. And wouldn't it be awesome if an intimate outsider (manager, coach, etc), saw us struggling with an impediment and offered her help?

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Wir sagen Danke!

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