A Scrum Board is a tool used in Agile product development to clearly show the progress and state of a project.
The Agile project management framework includes various approaches, one of which is the Scrum Methodology. While Agile is a philosophy based on iterations and close contact with the end-user, Scrum is a more literal technique of managing projects. The Scrum Board is an optional but valuable tool in Scrum Methodology.
The word Scrum was taken from the English game Rugby. It is used to depict the power and importance of the way teams contribute to product development. At its core, scrum puts forward the belief that teams work better in small & self-governing groups, given general objectives rather than specific tasks. This means that no member on the team works alone but rather everyone huddles together to reach their goal.
Modern teams usually use tools like Kanban or Scrum Boards to manage projects, depending on their chosen methodology.
Scrum Boards are used specifically during Scrum Sprints, which are 2-4 week timeframes set up by teams for completing a Sprint goal. They are also useful in managing the Sprint Backlog, which is a general summary of the functionality to be achieved and the work it will take.
To put it short, a Scrum Board is the visual representation of your status in a project, namely what you have to do, what you are currently doing, and what you have already done.
Scrum Board Sections
Each team decides and customizes its own Scrum Board setup. The only requirement is that the progress is visually comprehensible on that board and works well for that team. The board consists of columns that describe the state of a task, while tasks are put in rows of user stories. During the Sprint, they progress through the stages and finally reach the “Done” state. Each row may include multiple tasks relating to the same user story.
Some teams imagine the setup as a race to get each task to the end. It motivates them to keep going and complete a maximum number of tasks during each Sprint.
A conventional Scrum Board will have a minimum of 3 sections:
Some teams take it a step further and include the backlog on the left, as well as the story of a feature in each row before the progression stages. Other teams change up the view and use Scrum Wheels, with a “Done” status in the middle and tasks coming in from all sides, divided by rings that depict their status.
To make it easier for teams to use Scrum Boards, they can add columns like “under review,” “testing,” or other custom sections that ultimately make their working process more transparent.
Who uses Scrum Boards?
Scrum boards are used by Scrum Teams. These teams consist of members with 3 roles:
– 1 Scrum Master: As the title suggests, this specialist is a Master of the Scrum methodology. Their core role is to introduce, guide, teach, and help the Scrum Team to clearly and completely understand and utilize Scrum. In other words, the Scrum Master makes sure that the team is following the guidelines, prioritizes all the values proposed by the Scrum methodology, and is able to find the most efficient workflow. The Scrum Master plays a big role in introducing the Scrum Board and its functionality to the team.
– 1 Product Owner: The Product Owner is in control of the vision for the product. They are responsible for communicating the goals regarding functionality to the Developers and maximizing product value through that functionality. They define user stories and set priorities for the team to efficiently achieve their goals in the Sprint. Product Owners also have the responsibility of tracking Backlogs of Sprints which can be done through Scrum Boards.
– Developers: Unlike the standard usage of this title suggests, Scrum Developers aren’t solely programmers. In contrast, a Scrum developer is any Scrum Team Member who is devoted to building and contributing to any large or small usable Increment during a Sprint. These specialists don’t necessarily contribute to the technical or functional side of things. Plus, there is no specific specialty required for this role. Developers are the key players in moving tasks swiftly from one end of the Scrum Board to the other.
Scrum Board Benefits
Although the project management tool of each team depends on their methodology and preference, a Scrum Board is a widely used tool. But why? Here are its core benefits.
Progress is clearly visible
One of the main reasons that Scrum Boards are so popular is their ability to visibly demonstrate the whole state of the project. You can see what tasks haven’t been started yet, what the team is doing at a point in time, as well as everything that’s been completed thus far. With just a glance, you can also understand the team’s state on a deeper level, including their workload, involvement, and more.
Encourages teams to work together
Since the whole concept of Scrum lies in the power of teamwork, the Scrum Board clearly contributes to that mission. Since the board is available to every team member, each person can see what others are doing, discuss progression, ask questions, or suggest help. This way, Scrum Team Members are encouraged to work together, help each other progress faster, and achieve their Sprint Goal sooner.
Note: Each day of the Sprint, the team holds a 15-minute Stand-up Meeting next to the Scrum Board to discuss and plan the next 24 hours, plus update each other on their progress.
Simple to set up and use
Scrum Boards don’t require any special equipment. Just a whiteboard, colorful sticky notes, and a marker can do the trick. And of course, there are alternatives. Teams can also use online boards that are available for free or a monthly subscription fee. Many premium project management tools also feature Scrum Boards for small teams.