Four Ways Task Boards Help an Agile Team

TestRail, agile, software testing

This is a guest post by Nishi Grover Garg.

A task board is a physical or virtual chart containing all current team tasks at hand and their progress over time. For an agile team, all sprint tasks can be represented on the task board, and their flow over various stages can be tracked in the daily standup meeting. Task boards are a great way to visually represent pieces of work and their status.

Besides helping to organize and track work and being the focal point of the iteration and relevant meetings, task boards can have numerous other benefits for an agile team. Here are four additional ways they can help.

Four benefits of task boards

1. Customize your process

Though task boards often start with the basic To Do, In Progress and Done stages, teams are free to design their task boards based on their own way of showing progress through the phases of a task. My team’s task board looked something like this, having each task flow through the relevant phases:

figure

Another team may decide to have tasks for each activity, like Design Discussion, Coding, Reviews, Test Creation and Test Execution, and then move each user story along in the three stages of To Do, In Progress and Done.

figure 2

Teams get to decide their own way of visualizing their work and find the best way to collaborate. This enhances a team’s interaction and understanding of the process.
An agile sprint is considered a success only if all tasks taken up by the team are completed with the desired quality by the end of the sprint.

2. Visualize your Scrum process

Teams new to agile may get easily overwhelmed by the fast pace. Task boards help them visualize their process and their work. Representing each user story in the form of smaller tasks breaks down the expected work in understandable and easily doable chunks. Seeing these small chunks of work move ahead in the task board every day also gives a sense of progress to the team. The sprint seems achievable and agile begins to work easily!

3. Improve commitment and visibility

Once tasks are put up on the sprint task board, the task owners are committed to deliver. As the sprint progresses, everyone feels a sense of ownership in getting their task moving ahead. If tasks linger in the In Progress stage for too long, the owner must answer to the team. Any impeding factors can be discussed and addressed to help the task move along.

Every day progress is tracked, and at the end of the sprint, if a task is not completed, the ownership is clearly visible, so the owner can explain the situation. On the other hand, if a task gets completed ahead of schedule, that too is visible and can be a small win for the owner as well as the entire team!

4. Facilitate team interactions

Task boards are the focal point of all team meetings and discussions. If used correctly and placed close by, team members can gather around the board for discussions about tasks. My team would not even wait for our evening standup meeting to move the tasks ahead on the task board once they were done! It acts as a communication channel as well as a motivating factor.

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Physical and Virtual Task Boards

Though physical task boards are the most collaborative, distributed teams may find it difficult to work with them, so they may instead use virtual task boards. Online free tools and websites help in creating your own task board and sharing it with the team, so all members can update the status of their tasks periodically. Trello is a popular online task board creation tool, and it’s easy to use and customizable. These virtual task boards also result in less wasted time, easy tracking, and the ability to maintain the history, comments, and conversations for each task.

Whatever your preferred approach, give task boards a try for the benefit of your agile team.

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Nishi is a corporate trainer, an agile enthusiast and a tester at heart! With 11+ years of industry experience, she currently works with Tyto software as an Evangelist and Trainings Head. She is passionate about training, organizing testing community events and meetups, and has been a speaker at numerous testing events and conferences. Check out her blog where she writes about the latest topics in Agile and Testing domains.

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