What is a Scrum Board?

A Scrum Board is a visual representation of the work that needs to be completed within a single Sprint. It is sometimes also referred to as a Sprint Board or Kanban Board.

The Scrum Board is a tool that allows the Scrum team to:

  1. Identify tasks that need completing.
  2. Ensure everyone is working on a project task.
  3. Manage and keep track of an active Sprint.

Teams use the Scrum Board as part of the Daily Scrum to use as a discussion point.

Physical vs Online Scrum Board

Scrum boards can be made either physically or online, depending on the requirements of the project and the Scrum team. Each approach has benefits and drawbacks, which we will take a close look at below.

Physical Scrum Boards

The original Scrum teams used physical Scrum Boards and many teams still opt for this approach. Physical boards are generally better for smaller and local teams who won’t be consumed with manually updating the board. This approach helps to promote face-to-face communication which is beneficial for the Scrum team. However, it is important to ensure tasks are not overlooked and that the task status is always up to date.

Online Scrum Boards

Online Scrum Boards allow for live updates, customisation and flexibility and the team can access and make changes remotely. However, an up-to-date Scrum Board does not replace the need for good communication and the team needs to utilise the Daily Scrum to stay up to date with tasks.

There are several popular online tools used to create a Scrum Board, including JIRA, Trello, or VersionOne.

How to use a Scrum Board

The Scrum Board is usually divided into four vertical columns which include the following categories (as we have already touched on, this includes either physical or online):

  1. Stories: The Product Backlog Items (most likely in the User Story format) in the Sprint Backlog should be divided and written out as tasks on post-it notes.
  2. To Do: visual cards or sticky notes for tasks and subtasks which have not been started yet. They include details such as the due date and who is responsible for the task.
  3. Work in Progress: the tasks the team have initiated but are currently working on.
  4. Done: the tasks which have been completed.

As the Sprint progresses, team members move tasks from left to right on the board. Gradually shifting from “To Do” through to “Work in Progress” and then “Done”. 

Based on the Scrum process, some teams might choose to include some additional columns depending on the project requirements. For example, “In Review” and “On Hold” might also be useful. The importance is that the columns are visualising the team’s workflow.

Pros and cons of Scrum Boards

There are both pros and cons of Scrum Boards. We have outlined a few which should be considered below:

Pros 

  • Promotes collaboration. Scrum teams can easily collaborate by referring to the board. It allows the team to keep the end goal at top of mind whilst providing collaborative problem-solving, feedback, accountability and sharing of skills. 
  • Easy to use. Scrum Boards are very intuitive and easy to use. Information is generally split between four different columns which are straight-forward to populate and easily accessible. 
  • Makes sprints manageable. Scrum Boards clearly indicate which tasks must be completed during a Scrum Sprint and the status of each. This helps the team to stay on track and encourages them to divide projects into more manageable tasks, making them less overwhelming. 

Cons

  • Challenging to master. As with any framework in business, Scrum can take time to fully understand and implement. Without at least one person who is willing to fully understand Scrum, including the terminology, misunderstandings and challenges may arise. 
  • Increased expenditure. Scrum is a fairly inexpensive project management system. However, even such a simple system will require some costs for either physical supplies or a subscription to an online service.

Should you make a Scrum Board?

If you are looking for an easy to use and visual way to manage projects, then the simple answer is yes, creating a Scrum Board can be very beneficial. The Scrum Board helps to bring the whole team together with communication and improved team efficiency and acts as a tool to help achieve the Sprint Goal. 

For further reading on Scrum frameworks and Scrum terminology you can check out our resource here What is Scrum

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