Scrum is an agile framework commonly used by teams to effectively manage projects and deliver high value products or services to customers. It emphasizes teamwork and accountability, using an iterative process to help teams achieve set goals. It’s no wonder that 66% of organizations that follow the agile methodology utilize the Scrum framework at the team level.
In the Scrum approach to project management, work is divided into “user stories” that describe a new product or feature from the perspective of the user. User stories communicate the problem a task seeks to solve, reminding team members to keep the project scope in mind as they complete various tasks.
After user stories have been defined, the team develops a sprint backlog. A sprint backlog breaks each user story into individual tasks, compiles a list of tasks for each sprint cycle, and assigns tasks to the appropriate team members.
Scrum teams complete these tasks using an iterative cycle that lasts about two to four weeks in length, called sprints. Each sprint provides a completed result, typically a variation of the final deliverable. After each sprint is complete, teams begin a new sprint until the final product or service is fully developed and ready to be delivered to customers.
Scrum teams use Scrum boards to track a single sprint cycle’s progression and increase the visibility of project operations. A basic Scrum board is made up of three columns that each represent a different phase of progress:
- Not started
- In progress
Each task within a sprint cycle is assigned its own card and placed in the “not started” column, according to task priority. On each task card resides a description of the task, the priority in which the task should be executed, and who on the team is responsible for the task.
As the sprint progresses, task cards are moved to the “in progress” column of the Scrum board. Once tasks in the “in progress” column are completed, Scrum teams can then move the task card to the “completed” column to visually represent that the task assignment has been successfully accomplished.
Depending on the complexity of the project at hand, teams can expand the “in progress” column into various sub-stages such as development, testing, and review.
Organizations use Scrum boards to increase cycle visibility and promote interactions between team members. By creating and utilizing Scrum boards throughout a project lifecycle, teams will be more inclined to discuss how different tasks are progressing and come up with solutions to improve operations. This results in more accurate project planning over time and enhances a team’s ability to control the quality of current projects.
Benefits of using a Scrum strategy
Using a Scrum strategy not only serves organizations and their development teams, but it also benefits customers by generating products and services that meet their expectations.
Here are a few of the benefits of using a Scrum strategy:
Increases stakeholder transparency. Without full stakeholder transparency, organizations can potentially face consequences such as a decrease in team morale, lack of trust amongst key stakeholders, and difficulty estimating future work. The Scrum approach highly encourages teams to involve key stakeholders in the development of their products and services.
Scrum teams typically share their boards with both internal and external stakeholders so that everyone has a robust understanding of how each sprint is progressing. This enables stakeholders to offer the team insights on how to enhance the value of the product or service that is being developed. It also has the ability to potentially limit office politics by keeping all team members and project stakeholders focused on delivering high quality products and services to customers.
Enhances team adaptability. Adaptability is one of the keys to a successful business. In fact, 60% of employers believe that adaptability has become more important in this decade than in the past. Unlike traditional project management approaches, Scrum empowers teams to effectively implement process changes into projects that are currently in progress. This streamlines change management and enables teams to easily adapt to ever-changing market conditions.
Traditional approaches to project management require the scope of a project to remain the same, only permitting changes to be made if absolutely necessary. On the other hand, the Scrum approach is facilitated in iterations, providing teams the opportunity to make changes to the scope of a project to provide maximum value to customers.
Amplifies product and service quality. No matter how efficient your team is, if they are not able to deliver quality products that meet customer expectations, your business’s profitability will decrease. It’s absolutely crucial for organizations to prioritize their customers, especially during the product/service development process. After all, a 5% increase in customer retention rates produces more than a 25% increase in company profits.
The iterative nature of Scrum enables teams to present various versions of the deliverable to stakeholders to receive feedback on how the product or service can be improved before it is finalized. During sprint cycles, Scrum teams are constantly evolving product and service requirements to ensure they meet the wants and needs of customers. This ensures the satisfaction of customers is always at the forefront of all team efforts.
Improves team collaboration. As an agile framework, Scrum places a heavy emphasis on teamwork and daily team communications. In fact, Scrum is built upon five core values: commitment, focus, openness, respect, and courage. Each of these values contributes to a workplace culture that highlights the importance of both the team as a whole and individual team members.
Teams that practice Scrum communicate daily through stand-ups, backlog sessions, and other forms of Scrum meetings. By meeting regularly, development teams are able to track individual team member efforts and aid members that may be struggling to complete assigned tasks. This collaborative problem-solving process aids in the completion of sprint tasks, and ultimately the successful delivery of new products and services.
Types of Scrum boards and their benefits
Scrum boards help teams visualize their sprint backlog and track the progress of their sprint cycles. There are either virtual or physical boards. Let’s take a look at these two Scrum board formats to help you decide which type of board will best suit your team and organization’s needs.
Physical Scrum boards
Physical Scrum boards are typically created using a plain wall or whiteboard, tape or dry erase markers, and sticky notes. The tape or dry erase markers are used to create the columns of the Scrum board and the sticky notes are used as task cards.
This type of Scrum board does not require any special training or equipment to create, making it an ideal solution for teams with little technical experience or teams that are new to the Scrum approach. Team members create task cards for each activity in the backlog, as well as columns to represent each stage in the sprint. To update a physical Scrum board, team members simply move the sticky notes from column to column according to their progress status.
Physical scrum boards are typically used by in-person product development teams to help them visualize the activities involved in small-scale project sprints and discuss process changes.
Physical Scrum boards always reside in a specific physical location, such as in an office meeting room. These boards prove inefficient for remote or hybrid teams since they require them to meet in person to review and discuss updates.
Another pitfall of physical Scrum boards is that they are not capable of tracking the historical data of sprints, which is not ideal for organizations that value and would like to practice continuous improvement.
Here is an example of how the structure of a basic physical Scrum board may look:
Example structure of a physical Scrum board
Virtual Scrum boards
Unlike physical Scrum boards, virtual Scrum boards are created on a digital platform using project mapping tools. Product development teams that operate in hybrid or remote environments typically use virtual boards to share the progress of sprints with their team and external stakeholders, increasing project transparency across the board.
Creating a Scrum board on a virtual platform provides teams with a wide variety of features that can be utilized to increase team productivity. Whenever a team member updates a virtual Scrum board, a live update via email notification is sent to the rest of the team. This ensures that each team member is constantly aware of how the sprint is progressing.
It’s crucial for Scrum teams to create reports that evaluate their performance over the duration of a sprint so that they can make process improvements to further optimize operations. With a virtual Scrum board, teams have the ability to track historical information such as the changes that have been made to the Scrum board over time. This information can be used to inform future projects or to audit past initiatives, which proves useful for organizations that strive to continuously improve their company processes.
In addition to being able to track historical information, virtual Scrum boards also feature reporting capabilities that automatically generate reports such as velocity charts or burndown charts. This streamlines the sprint analysis process by eliminating the need to manually create Scrum reports.
The following image depicts a Scrum board made using MindManager®.
Example structure of a virtual Scrum board using MindManager
How MindManager can be used to create Scrum boards
If your team or organization is looking to develop Scrum board to manage projects, MindManager might be your ideal solution. MindManager is a mind mapping solution that offers a variety of customizable templates that can help your team visualize the progression of project sprints more effectively.
MindManager enables its users to access these tools from any location, authorizing team members to collaborate on boards regardless of their physical location. This feature streamlines team communications, empowering teams to quickly address bottlenecks over the duration of a sprint, such as resource unavailability or machine malfunctions.
Maintaining a well-organized Scrum board is a key aspect of this approach to project management. With MindManager, teams can easily arrange their Scrum board task cards using MindManager’s drag-and-drop feature. MindManager also provides its users with a wide array of built-in tools such as text acceleration, filters, and task tags to maintain a structured, comprehensive Scrum board.