What is a scrum board?

What is a scrum board?

A Scrum board is a visual tool used in agile project management to track and monitor the progress of tasks in an ongoing sprint.

This board can take two forms: it can be a physical board you hang on the wall in your office, or it can be a digital screen on a computer. The digital board is more useful for your team to update and monitor sprint tasks in real time.

A sprint can be anywhere from one to four weeks long, and the Scrum board is the center of sprint meetings. It helps your team keep an eye on tasks that must be completed by the end of the sprint.

The Scrum task board is divided into columns, each column representing a distinct stage of the work process. For example, you might have columns labeled "To-do" (tasks to start), "In progress" (tasks being worked on), and "Done" (completed tasks). Each card or sticky note on the board represents the specific tasks your team needs to complete during the sprint. As these tasks progress, the cards are shifted from one column to another. The Scrum board provides your team with a comprehensive overview of the sprint's progression and the tasks still pending to complete.

Who uses scrum board?

Agile Scrum boards are primarily used by teams following the Scrum methodology, especially in software development and project management. Project managers, product owners, and Scrum masters oversee the Scrum board to ensure the project progress aligns with established timelines and goals. Simultaneously, team members actively engage with the board for task updates, fostering improved communication and understanding of contributions and dependencies.

However, an agile Scrum board can also be adapted and applied effectively in other industries and team settings to track tasks and monitor progress. For example, marketing teams can utilize a similar board to manage campaigns and track the progress of promotional activities. Manufacturing teams may employ it to oversee production stages, ensuring the timely completion of each step.

Any team or group with a workflow involving multiple tasks or projects can potentially benefit from using an agile Scrum board. Scrum boards promote transparency, collaboration, and task monitoring, increasing efficiency and improving project management across different domains.

Benefits of using a scrum board

A Scrum board is a valuable tool for managing all the tasks assigned to your team during an active sprint. It provides a visual representation of task status, making it easy to see what's been completed and what's still pending.

Using a Scrum board offers numerous benefits for any department or team.

  • Enhanced transparency:

    A Scrum board prominently displays all user stories, tasks, and bugs that your team needs to address during a sprint. This transparency ensures everyone can easily understand which tasks are finished and which ones are yet to be completed.

  • Facilitated team interaction:

    Scrum boards encourage open communication among team members. They serve as a central hub where team members can engage in discussions about tasks, updates, and any roadblocks they may encounter.

  • Real-time updates:

    Digital Scrum boards enable real-time updates, ensuring everyone has access to the most current information.

  • Prompt issue identification:

    Scrum boards effectively highlight bottlenecks and workflow issues. If tasks start accumulating in the "In progress" column, it serves as a clear signal that there may be obstacles requiring immediate attention.

  • Promotion of accountability:

    By assigning tasks to team members and moving them across columns as they progress, Scrum boards promote accountability. Team members take ownership of tasks in the "In progress" column, and the team collectively monitors the progress of each task.

How is Scrum different from Kanban?

How is Scrum different from Kanban?

Scrum and Kanban represent two significant agile methodologies for efficiently managing, organizing, and meticulously tracking progress throughout the project lifecycle. Both Scrum and Kanban boards play a crucial role in providing a visual representation for your team to monitor and oversee task progress.

The Scrum board is primarily tailored to track sprints, enabling continuous monitoring of tasks within an active sprint. The Scrum board also operates within well-defined iterations and timeframes, providing structure to task management.

For example, consider assembling a car in stages. Each stage corresponds to a fixed timeframe (sprint) with specific objectives. The Scrum board functions as your workshop schedule, guiding tasks (car parts) through columns representing different stages of completion ("To Do," "In Progress," "Done"). Much like the assembly of a car, Scrum ensures that software development occurs incrementally and systematically, with regular check-ins and adjustments during each sprint.

Conversely, the Kanban board serves to visualize tasks that are continuous and non-iterative in nature. Kanban boards help manage continuous, adaptable workflows based on immediate business requirements.

Let's consider the example of a restaurant's order system. Orders (tasks) continuously arrive, and the kitchen staff (your team) works on them in a continuous flow. There are no set mealtimes; you prepare dishes (complete tasks) as orders (work) come in. The Kanban board serves as your order ticket, guaranteeing that nothing is overlooked and tasks progress seamlessly.

Scrum and Kanban offer distinct, yet effective, approaches to project management, with Scrum providing structured sprints and Kanban ensuring flexibility in managing continuous workflows in response to immediate need.

To gain more insights into the distinctions between these methodologies, take a look at this comparison document: Scrum vs. Kanban.

Online Scrum boards vs Physical Scrum boards

The choice between an online Scrum board and a physical Scrum board is a common question that Scrum teams have to make. There are pros and cons to both options, and there is no one right answer, so let's take a look at both.

A physical Scrum board

Here's why a good old white board with sticky notes can work for you:

  • It works for local teams. If your entire team works on the same floor, it's convenient to have your board in a place that's visible to everybody.
  • It can serve as a constant visual reminder. Keeping the board in the center of your workspace can help your team stay more focused on their goals.
  • You can hold daily standups around your board. The space around your board can serve as a meeting place for discussions and quick meetings.
  • It can be customized. You can reorder your workflow or rearrange your workboard after every sprint. You can even go crazy and decorate it with a different theme every month! Your board can be "fun-ctional"!

An online Scrum board

A physical board is cool, but here's why an online board is a better choice in the long run:

  • It works well for remote teams. Whether you work with a team from another country, or on another floor, an online scrum board makes more sense than a physical one.
  • It's accessible to everyone. If you're working from home or away at a conference, it's easier to keep updated on an online Scrum board.
  • Your online board can also be customized. With online Scrum software, you get the option to view what you want. You can use filters to only see your items on the board, while your manager might prefer the swimlane view.
  • You get real-time updates about changes. You don't have to constantly check the board for updates, and the QA team doesn't have to ping you personally every time testing is done for your task.
  • It's easier to plan your Epics and long-term projects. Viewing and working with data across sprints is seamless.
  • Online Scrum Boards generate automatic reports. This feature gives online boards a clear edge over physical ones. Teams need reports to evaluate their performance. With an online Scrum tool you get both velocity reports for your Scrum master and project dashboards for your management.
  • Boards and reports can be stored and shared easily. When you have to send your reports to both your product owner and their supervisor in another country, you will be grateful that you opted for an online tool.

What does a Scrum board look like?

The Scrum Board usually consists of a whiteboard or a wall space with columns drawn in and sticky notes used to mark different items. A basic Scrum Board has 3 columns, "To do", "Doing", and "Done". If your team is on their first Scrum project, or if you're trying your hand at running your own personal sprint, these columns can work wonders in showing you how effective your work becomes when tracked in this manner.

Visualizing your work across status columns gives you an instant insight into the amount of work currently on your plate—what you're done with and what's still pending.

Just like how a clean desk drives you to work more efficiently, when your task list is visualized properly without clutter, it can help you get organized and decide what needs to be done next.

How to get the most out of your Scrum Board

Each Scrum team operates differently based on the nature of their project, their team culture, and what they've learned from experience. The Scrum Board is highly customizable—in keeping with the pioneering spirit of agile, some Scrum teams may even experiment with their boards to discover how their workflow could be improved.

  • Agile Scrum Board

    A standard Scrum Board has only 3 columns: "To do", "Doing", and "Done". Simple, yet effective.

  • Sprint boards

    A Scrum team usually works with user stories which are then broken down into tasks. They add another column to map stories to their tasks. It's also a common practice to save the leftmost column for backlog items.

  • Agile board stages

    When teams follow a precise workflow for each task that they do, they customize their Scrum board accordingly. Listing out each stage in the workflow helps to identify bottlenecks and delays.

  • Agile scrum board wheel

    For teams who want to try something different, some have chosen to use a Scrum Wheel, which uses rings for task statuses. The outer rings begin with "To do", with tasks moving inwards to the innermost circle of "Done". Each user story or user is given a separate segment based on how the team divides tasks.

  • Legos scrum board

    If you think Legos are just for kids, you are wrong. Dig up the Legos you've hoarded all these years to build your own Lego Scrum board. You can use punch holes in your index cards, and use 2 Lego blocks to secure them to your lego base.

  • Online scrum board

    For teams that don't share a common location or don't have a convenient place to keep their board, an online Scrum board works just as well.

Other things to think about:

01. Definition of done

Does "Done" mean you finished development, or that you finished development along with bug fixes? Each team has its own definition of "done" and acceptance criteria to determine when a user story gets completed.

02. Retrospectives

Takeaways from retrospectives are used to improve the next sprint, so they are often pinned on one part of the board as a reminder to integrate them in future practices.

03. Burndown charts

A burndown chart plots the estimation points you "burn" in your sprint across time. It is one of the key indicators for measuring progress in Scrum. Teams often find a place for this chart on their board.

04. Daily Standups

Daily Standups are short meetings held every day to discuss work and different challenges the team is facing. These meetings are done standing around the Scrum Board, so it's a good idea to have the board in an open space.

Why do you need an online Scrum Board?

With the exception of very small, local teams, an online Scrum board clearly has the upper hand for almost any team. With companies going global, collaboration across boundaries and visibility across hierarchies has become crucial to making work, well... work!

Teams are no longer in the same building, let alone on the same floor. Everyone needs real-time updates, with zero delay. Management needs dashboards to get visibility on what's happening at the ground level. The Scrum master uses reports to understand the progress of a sprint and identify bottlenecks. With an online Scrum tool, you can automatically generate specific reports that your Scrum master can track and others that your product owner can understand. Your sprints over a year can be easily tracked when they're online with no extra documentation efforts from your end. Once it's online, it stays there.

For any team that is going to scale up, an online scrum board is a critical investment.

Scrum board in Zoho Sprints

Scrum boards serve as invaluable tools for Scrum teams, and in the modern digital era, online Scrum boards have become indispensable. When implemented effectively, Scrum boards offer a powerful means of managing and organizing multiple projects and iterations, streamlining collaboration, and boosting productivity for your team.

The Scrum board in Zoho Sprints is a customizable platform designed to complement each stage of your Scrum process, making it a valuable asset for project managers and Scrum masters seeking to optimize their team's performance and efficiency.

Here is how your team can create and use a Scrum board in Zoho Sprints for maximum efficiency:

  • Sprint planning

    During the Sprint planning phase, your team should discuss and select the user stories and tasks that have to be added to the sprint backlog of the upcoming sprint.

  • Assign tasks

    Once the user stories and tasks are ready in the sprint backlog, assign the work items to the team members, ensure the tasks are in the "To-Do" status, and verify the effort estimations.

  • Start the sprint

    Once your team's upcoming sprint backlog is ready, your Scrum master or project manager can add a proper start date and end date, and start the sprint.

  • Work on the sprint tasks

    As the sprint progresses, your team members can move tasks along the team's workflow. Tasks transition from the left side of the board to the right, symbolizing the gradual progress made until they successfully reach the "done" status.

    The Scrum board enables your team members to provide real-time status updates, discuss challenges, and collaborate on solutions, ensuring everyone remains aligned. It also helps the Scrum master closely monitor task movement and facilitate solutions in case of any bottlenecks.

  • Complete the sprint

    When a team member moves a task from the "To-Do" to the "Done" status, they then go back to the "To-Do" column and pick the next work item to be completed within the sprint. All the tasks added to a sprint must be in the "Done" status by the end of the sprint.

  • Sprint review

    Upon completing the sprint, a sprint review meeting is scheduled with stakeholders. During this meeting, the focus is on discussing the tasks that were successfully completed within the sprint, as well as those that were not. This provides an opportunity to identify any gaps and issues encountered by the team and engage in discussions to explore potential solutions.

    For detailed guidance on how to create and manage a Scrum board in Zoho Sprints, check out our page Manage your board.