Scrum Board 101

Ruth Hadari
Ruth Hadari
Agile Advocate, Engineering Ops Expert
Posted on
Jul 29, 2022
Updated on
Apr 23, 2023
Table of Content

A Scrum board is a visual resource to manage and organize projects, broken down into smaller parts called ‘Sprints’. It’s the face or the visual status of your Sprint and shows how your work is divided across different workflow stages.

But before diving into Scrum boards, let’s brush up on what we know about Scrum as it will help us better understand them. 

Scrum is a popular Agile practice through which Scrum teams break down complex problems into smaller, more manageable issues. It emphasizes collaboration, communication, and a trial-and-error approach to solving challenges. 

Scrum Board – Where It All Happens

Think of the Scrum board as an Agile development tool that prevents product backlog, allowing Scrum teams to focus on their duties. Backlogs are easily converted into illustrations using Scrum boards, enabling team members to update Scrum Artifact throughout the entire Agile Sprint – especially when a new task is at hand. 

Scrum boards can either be physical or digital, constantly updated by the team to exhibit all the tasks that need to be completed by the end of the current Sprint. The definition of done in Scrum is slightly different, as it impacts the work’s quality and expected delivery time. 

So, the Scrum board is a huge, tangible part of your Scrum process – a visual indicator of the progress of your current Sprint, helping push your team to accomplish the sprint goals before its time. 

Structure of a Scrum Board

A Scrum board is usually set up as big whiteboard or a wall space with numerous columns that uses sticky notes to showcase the different phases of the tasks and Scrum project. The basic Scrum board includes four main columns:

A Visualization of Sprints and Backlog

The project is arranged as backlog and Sprints, where the backlog comprises all the tasks that must be completed in order to deliver a successful project. 

Scrum boards allow you to pick tasks from your backlog and create short Sprints to work on to deliver the project within the deadline. This enables managers to see the progress of the project and the exact status of the tasks. 

Work In Progress

This section refers to the Sprint backlog that the Scrum team is currently working on, and the task mentioned in this segment is initiated mainly by Scrum developers. 

Completed Tasks

It includes tasks or backlogs that Scrum teams have completed. In other words, it states which of the Sprint backlog is ready to be tested and developed. 

User Stories

It allows product managers to build and maintain user stories, which are short descriptions of a functionality or a feature from a customer’s perspective. They play a significant role in setting the requirements for the end product way before the work starts. 

Significance Of A Scrum Board

It’s easy to throw around words like teamwork and transparency – but that doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of what a Scrum board can do for you. So here are a couple of noteworthy benefits of using it:

  • Managers can quickly overview Scrum project status or progress
  • Each member can glance at the board to see where the team is in a specific iteration
  • Newcomers can easily catch up as it provides a strong understanding of the process
  • It promotes and facilitates team interaction and collaboration
  • They are highly customizable, flexible, and responsive, reducing the risk of things falling through the cracks
  • It enhances team efficiency by offering in-depth performance monitoring and helping identify who performed the best and which members took longer than usual to complete their task
  • It helps identify problems that might occur in the future by allowing the team to share their workload, ensuring progress continues even when members are unavailable

How to Make a Scrum Board

Here are the steps to creating a Scrum board:

Generate Product Backlog

It starts with the backlog of user stories and identifying tasks that must be developed for the upcoming Sprint. All of these tasks must be written down on sticky notes or cards with complete descriptions, and prioritized according to their importance. 

Assign Roles and Tasks

Before creating a successful Scrum board, it’s vital to define the individual roles. For instance, the Scrum Master is responsible for conducting sprint retrospectives and reports. Conversely, the Product owner is responsible for maintaining and managing the product backlog, which helps analyze and categorize tasks within the Scrum board, accordingly. 

Choose a Template

Now it’s time to choose an appropriate template for your Scrum board to help save time while solving problems that might arise in the future. The right template helps maintain the consistency of your Scrum and Sprint, so that every team member has the same layout to work on and delivers expected outcomes.

Build Task Board

At this stage, the Scrum board adds user stories, requirements, features, and tasks finalized by the Scrum team. It divides the tasks into smaller chunks and provides an estimated time log for the completion of each task. 

Scrum Meetings

Of course, building a successful Scrum board isn’t the final goal. The real objective is to enhance teamwork and collaboration, making the Scrum board the best choice to communicate the project’s progress among the Scrum team. 

Sprint Review

As soon as the Sprint ends, the Scrum Master analyses and evaluates the Scrum team and project’s performance. It offers valuable feedback highlighting areas needing modification before the final project is deployed. 

Digital vs Physical Scrum Boards

Scrum boards can be used in digital form or in a physical incarnation however, each has their own reasons to use it.

Reasons to use a Physical Scrum Board:

  1. The Scrum Board is accessible to all of these in the room at that moment of time.
  2. A tangible board located in the office where the whole team can see it means that they are reminded of the work at hand and have something visible to work towards.
  3. The physical nature of meeting around the board can serve as a tradition for your team to uphold.
  4. A physical Scrum Board can be completely customized by the team and made their own to increase the feeling of attachment the team has to it.

Reasons to use a Digital Scrum Board:

  1. The Scrum Board is accessible to anyone around the world as long as they have a connection to the internet.
  2. Using digital Scrum Boards allows you to accurately track your Sprint history which enables you to track patterns over time.
  3. Digital Scrum Boards allows users to add, maneuver and edit items easily without hassle.
  4. An automatic summary of key metrics from the Sprint can be produced when using digital boards. These reports include metrics like burndown, velocity, unplanned work etc.
  5. Digital boards like GoRetro can offer suggested cards based on looking at the work that was completed during the Sprint.
  6. Digital boards can offer collaboration tools such as voting, commenting and card/column customization.

Kanban vs Scrum Boards

Scrum Boards and Kanban Boards are both agile tools that can improve work processes, but they are very different in how they go about doing it:

Scrum Board layout:

Column 1: Product Backlog. These are the user stories that the team has been tasked to build. If they build everything that is in the product backlog, they would have built what they set out to build.

Column 2: To do. This is what the team has taken from the backlog and prioritized so that most important things get built first.

Column 3: Work In Progress (WIP). This is what the team has decided to take on in the current iteration (Sprint).

Column 4: Done. Based on the definition of done, these are tasks that have been completed by the team.

The Scrum Board is a way to easily track the work that the team does within the time of the iteration, in detail. It does this by using the user stories in the product and estimation techniques that will gauge how much time is needed to move the card from column to column. In Scrum Meetings, the Scrum Board is a powerful way to show the team where the team is at in terms of which user stories have been completed, and which ones are proving more difficult to solve.

Kanban Board layout:

Column 1: Queue. The queue is where items that the team have agreed to work on sit before the team has called on them.

Column 2: In Progress. Once called out the queue, a task will sit in the ‘in progress’ column where the team will work on it.

Column 3: Done. Once finished, the task will be put into this column.

Kanban is a tool to visualize the workflow of a team. Being inside a team means that a holistic perspective is difficult to have. The Kanban uses its columns to highlight when there are bottlenecks or blockages that are weighing down on the team. It’s designed not only to see them, but to see exactly where they are coming from, so the team can fix the problem as soon as possible.

Although they seem similar, a Scrum Board and Kanban Board are very different, specifically in what their key purpose is. When using a Scrum Board, the Team’s goal is to get all cards from the backlog and move them into the done column. The backlog would hopefully be empty by the end of the iteration. However, with a Kanban Board, the work is ongoing so the backlog will never be empty. 

A Scrum Board is a great way to aid a Scrum Team's perception of how their Sprint is going whereas a Kanban board is a holistic view on the efficiency of a team.

Business Development with Scrum Board – GoRetro Is the Way Forward 

If your project follows Agile development methodology, consider introducing a Scrum board within your workflow to enhance its effectiveness. 

One of the best sprint retrospective tools available on the Internet today is GoRetro. Make your Sprint process seamless, simple, and productive with a free online retrospective offering – it works great regardless of team size. With GoRetro, unleash your potential and reflect on your team’s progress and Sprints to improve the cycle. 

About the author

Ruth Hadari
Agile Advocate, Engineering Ops Expert

Highly experienced in leading multi-organizational teams, groups, in-shore as well as off-shore. The go-to person who is able to simplify the complex. An agile advocate, experienced in all common methodologies. Responsible for the entire software development lifecycle process from development, QA, DevOps, Automation to delivery including overall planning, direction, coordination, execution, implementation, control and completion. Drives execution, and communicates on status, risks, metrics, risk-mitigation and processes across R&D.

Related Posts

Contact Us
Thank you! Your message has been sent!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Join thousands of companies

Start for free - update any time
Joining as an organisation? Contact sales