Agile project management is used in a variety of project types to enhance their quality and the project team’s speed and flexibility. While it is most commonly used in software development projects, the latest State of Agile Report indicates that its adoption is growing in tech and non-tech teams alike. Approximately 71% of US companies use the agile framework to increase the structure and efficiency of their projects.
An agile board is a visual framework for organizing the various components of a project. It enables teams to track their progress, visualize workflows, and communicate which individuals are responsible for which tasks, at-a-glance.
In this article, we will discuss the importance of using visual frameworks to execute a structured project and achieve business goals. With this guide, you will not only understand the various types of agile boards for business, but also the specific steps involved in creating an agile board.
Understanding the importance of agile and visual frameworks
Workplace inefficiency is a hurdle for many companies. Unrealistic expectations and unclear processes contribute to a weekly average of one in four missed deadlines. The structure provided by a visual roadmap counteracts this problem through enhanced clarity, focus, and collaboration.
The ability to see all tasks and their due dates helps teams visually understand their progress. Teams that have a standardized way to communicate about their project processes, work together more effectively. For example, employees who collaborate effectively work faster, do better work, and are more innovative.
To provide your team members with an operational performance boost, however, your implementation of visual frameworks like agile boards must be successful.
Some practices to avoid when implementing agile boards include rolling out agile systems all at once without the team’s understanding and acceptance. For example, 33% of unsuccessful agile teams cite uncooperative colleagues as the cause of failure.
Highly successful agile transformations are deliberate with their implementation. Common characteristics of successful teams include slow transitions to agile that focus on ensuring everyone involved has a profound understanding of what agile includes, before beginning. Structuring your agile transition by determining where agile will create value for your company boosts success rates by 25%.
Types of agile boards
Agile boards can be physical or virtual, following a specific template or a custom creation suited to your preferences and needs.
A physical agile board is comprised of the status columns and the tickets that tasks are written on. Sticky notes on a whiteboard setup are common for smaller projects. The sticky notes can easily be transferred between columns and the process is simple enough to pick up on quickly.
If the board is used for a whole team, then it should be posted in a common area. A personal board might be near to the individual’s workspace instead. Physical boards do not scale well for large projects, however. Large teams will have an equally large number of tasks that can cause visual clutter, and the board can be tampered with unintentionally by knocking off tasks and putting them back in the wrong place.
With virtual agile boards, tickets need not be constrained to the size of a sticky note and the amount of them that can fit on your whiteboard. Managing a board is easier with automation of menial tasks.
Tagged tasks with deadlines can automatically be added to the weekly burndown. You can also automate the addition of task constraints, such as setting prerequisite tasks to be completed before beginning one planned for the future. In addition, analytics can be created automatically using metadata from your board. Built-in templates can save time spent setting up a board and let you get straight to the results.
Regardless of whether team members work remotely or in-person, they can access virtual boards through their project management software anywhere and at any time.
Kanban is a Japanese word that means “sign” or “signboard.” In this method, all teams use visual cues such as physical cards to itemize each of the tasks involved in a project on a single board.
Kanban boards are typically ‘owned’ by the project manager and product owner. They collectively monitor what features are moving forward and can alter the board to suit the project’s evolving needs.
The project manager uses analytics to understand their team’s product versus the product owner’s needs and push for continuous improvement. Common actions include shifting teams toward greater transparency, encouraging all acts of leadership, and promoting change based on team recommendations and analytics.
The goal of a Kanban board is to produce a steady workflow. The various stages of the workflow are represented with columns, and the project cards move through the columns to visualize how tasks are progressing. There is a set limit of how many tasks can be in-progress, limiting the risk of backlogs or bottlenecks.
Scrum boards are differentiated from Kanban boards by who posts on the board. Instead of multiple teams posting their tasks on the same board, scrum boards are utilized by a single team or individuals. Scrum boards are used to set up expectations for deliverables at the end of a set timeframe, called a sprint.
Every member of a scrum team iterates through the features until the end of the sprint. At such a time, teams reconvene with the scrum master and the product owner to receive feedback. The scrum master uses the meeting to inform how to set up the next sprint’s deliverables.
Feedback can be received in the form of the intended user experience described in natural language—called user stories—that teams take back to their board and break down into tasks. This process is designed to deliver the perfect end result through regular presentation of the current iteration of the product.
How to create an agile board
While Kanban and scrum are the most popular types of agile boards, they may not meet your specific needs. The complexity of the workflow process might necessitate additional columns such as needs-review or a backlog. Agile planning tools are a convenient way to customize a board for your specific needs.
The first step in creating an agile board is defining custom columns that align with your team’s workflow. Common add-ons to the standard to-do, in-progress, and completed columns are backlog or review columns.
For example, scrum boards, commonly used by software developers, typically expand the in-progress column into multiple smaller stages such as developing, test case creation, testing, and review. The statuses on your board can be as detailed or general as suits your team.
Once you have defined your agile board columns, create a ticket for each task and include relevant information. Tickets should describe the task, who is responsible for it, and the due date. Kanban tickets might specify a time-to-complete estimate, whereas their scrum counterparts might list the card’s priority. Place all the tickets in the appropriate column on the board.
Finally, add information to the board itself. Set the number of cards that must be works-in-progress at any one time. This ensures that a new task is started as soon as one is completed and that tasks are finished before moving on to the next one. Scrum boards often name the sprint and display its deadline.
Now your agile board is done! The next thing to do is maintain the board so that it accurately reflects progress and the project’s expanding needs until completion.
How to create agile boards with MindManager
With MindManager®, creating and maintaining agile boards is simple. Data, resources, timelines, and everything else relevant to your project is stored in a centralized location, accessible online. You can leverage the template library and even customize templates to suit your business needs.
Keeping your tasks organized and structured is straightforward with built-in tools. Text acceleration, task tags and filtering, and the ability to combine various diagram types into one framework mean your boards will be as agile as your team.
Connecting remote and on-premises workers is straightforward with MindManager, enabling convenient access to team maps, charts, and diagrams. MindManager offers simple integration into everyday workplace tools such as Microsoft Outlook, SharePoint, and Microsoft Teams.
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