There’s one question I always get when coaching a new agile team: “Can we use a digital task board?”
My answer: “Sure you can, but …”
Because I don’t believe in imposing my ideas onto a team, I give them my view on things.
What does a physical task board offer me?
- A general overview of the current iteration.
- Indications of bottlenecks or impediments.
- A constant reminder of the iteration goal.
- Easy communication about features and scope during the daily standup (and the rest of the day).
- Triggering flow amongst different roles in a team.
Can I achieve this with a digital task board? Maybe if we could have a dedicated flat screen TV that’s big enough to keep every feature and task readable from a distance of 4 meters. If that’s not the case, don’t even bother. If you have to surf to a URL to look at your task board, you’re not getting the same benefits of an information radiator. The information is hidden and you have to look for it which means you won’t see it as much as you would when it was hanging on the wall in front of you.
The only situation where I would use a digital solution is when you’re working with distributed teams. But even then, the tool has to be flexible and lightweight. The team might want to change columns, use color codes, install WIP limits…
Why does every IT team ask this question? Is it because we’re technology geeks, and we can’t stand the thought to still be working with paper and pencil? Is this similar in other industries? Let me know by commenting to this post.