Explaining the Task-Board

Task Board overview
Task Board overview

The task-board is very personal to each team, some teams use virtual boards from their software tools e.g. Jira or TFS but in my experience most prefer a tactile board.  Moving index cards or post-its or magnets to show status of the story in progress.

My preference is to also have other documents displayed near the Task-board to help remind the team of certain commitments and to aid them in remaining focused.

1. I like to see the sprint Goal, having this displayed by the task-board makes it convenient for one of the team to pose the question – “Does that help us move to the Sprint Goal?” when a team member proposes adding a new task. It keeps focus and an awareness of direction.

2. I also like to display a list of the impediments raised by the team and if possible the status of them. When resolved they are removed, but when visible it is a reminder to the Scrum Master and the team that there is an impediment we should be looking to remove ASAP.

3. The burndown chart is an obvious example of visible data that is useful for the team. It should be updated daily in advance of the stand-up so that it is available to be discussed as part of the stand-up meeting. In addition to the standard 3 questions I feel it is important for the team to be aware of our progress and when appropriate to discuss what action may be necessary to take.

4. Displaying the commitments from the last retrospective becomes a reminder to the team to be looking to improve, not just the explicit commitments but a general desire to get better.

5. The final document I like to keep near the board is the Definition of Done (and usually the definition of ready too).  The definition of done is the team’s agreement to a quality standard. But more than that it is a way of reminding the team that ‘Done’ is more than coding functionality.  It is very common for a developer to say “We’ll be done in an hour”,  to which my response will regularly be “But will you be done?” and point at the definition of done, usually prompting a clarification to “I’ll be ready to deploy” or “I’ll be ready to hand over to <X> for Smoke testing”. It may seem pedantic, but reminding them that done is a collective agreement and not a single person delivery helps the team work together.

All of these documents are displayed openly in the Team room visible to anyone interested, but they are useful only to the team.

Team rooms will often display far more than this, cartoons, story writing tips, Velocity charts, spider diagrams, support rotas, but the 5 documents listed are the ones I find most useful and encourage any team to keep upto date and visible.

2 thoughts on “Explaining the Task-Board

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