The Scrum Board – Physical vs. an E-tool

A quick thought on task boards.

Article originally published on January 16, 2014.

I’m not a fan of teams using tools in place of a physical Scrum board.  The physical act of writing stories on index cards, moving stickies and having the daily stand-up around it is so powerful. It becomes an anchor for communication and collaboration within the team, the place around which meaningful conversations take place, much like the proverbial watercooler.

It makes interactions and events visible. It increases commitment and leads to an environment of trust. If team members can interact honestly around it also creates a place of safety.

Added on March 7, 2016.

When team uses an electronic tool, the working environment becomes about the tool, rather than the process and the human interactions. So the process of working together changes to fit the tool.

I know there are many reasons for adopting an electronic board, the most common ones being distributed teams and reporting to management. The latter is not and should not ever be a reason to force a team to have an electronic board. Sadly, it often is.

The task board then becomes the tool for everyone else and not the team. It is often forgotten that the task board belongs to the team – it is a team tool.

No one else’s.


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