Going Agile: Using Trello As Scrum Management Tool

There are enormous number of tools out there to help you manage your daily activities. Lately I’ve discovered Trello, and started using it effectively for agile task tracking. Trello is a graphical tool to help you organize your tasks and data, giving you collaboration, it’s adaptive and very intuitive. Although Trello was not designed specifically for scrum management, with a few plugins, and a few work rules it be very effective. Trello makes my daily stand up meetings very short and effective. I will share my best practices, and remember that Trello has no boundaries regarding how you want to integrate it in your daily teams work flow.

Let’s start from the basics

I used to work with pretty much methodologies and tools for project management. The common to all of them is that you have to learn and adopt to the tool methodologies, terms and work procedures. When I got to introduce it to my colleagues, and team members I did get stuck usually with compelling reasons. Trello is exactly the opposite: it let’s you import you management methodologies into the tool, without enforcing on you anything. With that approach, and with better view of the team tasks, able to see all of the information, you have the power to decide, move and adopt easily. You will be more successful in project management.

The Agile Manifesto

The Agile Manifesto, also called the Manifesto for Agile Software Development, is a formal proclamation of four key values and 12  principles to guide an iterative and people-centric approach to software development.

Agile software development focuses on keeping code simple, testing often and delivering functional bits of the application as soon as they’re ready. The Agile Manifesto was created as an alternative to document-driven, heavyweight software development processes such as the waterfall approach.

The four core values of  agile software development as stated by the Agile Manifesto emphasize:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation.
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation.
  • Responding to change over following a plan.

The 12 principles laid down in the Agile Manifesto have been adapted for managing a variety of business and IT-related projects, including business intelligence (BI).  They include:

  1. Satisfying ‘customers’ through early and continuous delivery of valuable work.
  2. Breaking big work down into smaller components that can be completed quickly.
  3. Recognizing that the best work emerges from self-organizing teams.
  4. Providing motivated individuals with the environment and support they need and trust them to get the job done.
  5. Creating processes that promote sustainable efforts.
  6. Maintaining a constant pace for completed work.
  7. Welcoming changing requirements, even late in a project.
  8. Assembling the project team and business owners on a daily basis throughout the project.
  9. At regular intervals, having the team reflect upon how to become more effective, then tuning and adjusting behavior accordingly.
  10. Measuring progress by the amount of completed work.
  11. Continually seeking excellence.
  12. Harnessing change for competitive advantage.

Whata Is Scrum ?

Scrum is an iterative and incremental agile software development framework for managing product development. It defines “a flexible, holistic product development strategy where a development team works as a unit to reach a common goal”, challenges assumptions of the “traditional, sequential approach” to product development, and enables teams to self-organize by encouraging physical co-location or close online collaboration of all team members, as well as daily face-to-face communication among all team members and disciplines in the project.

A key principle of Scrum is its recognition that during a project the customers can change their minds about what they want and need (often called “requirements churn”), and that unpredicted challenges cannot be easily addressed in a traditional predictive or planned manner. As such, Scrum adopts an empirical approach—accepting that the problem cannot be fully understood or defined, focusing instead on maximizing the team’s ability to deliver quickly and respond to emerging requirements.

Trello

Trello is a visual tasks management tool, that can work with team collaboration. Your projects are organized into boards, and it tells you what’s being worked on, who’s is doing what, and what is in process. Visit Trello‘s web site to get more information.

Tips To Enhance Scrum Project Management Using Trello

Create Boards for each iteration, and one for stories backlog. Define a template that you can start with each iteration.
Iteration Board template that I’m using is with the following lists:

  • About This Sprint – I include cards: sprint duration, general sprint goals, Meeting agendas and notes, budget, burning chart, risks, post and pre sprint checklists.
  • List for each story – Add a general description card which describes the goals, references to designs, and definition of done
  • Color labels – I use 4 different color labels to represent the card (task) status: to do, in progress, done, blocked. I prefer this rather than defining a list of each one because in this way I can immediately see the whole list/story status. Remember, we want to focus on stories completion rather than task completion.
  • Set points – for each card. I use “Scrum for trello” plugin. Set priority by the order of the cards in the list.
  • Add checklist – Usually each assigned developer needs to add a more detailed checklist of things to do within this card/task.
  • Add burning chart – I use “Burndown for trello” plugin. Every stand-up I i cut and paste the chart to the burndown chart.
  • Work on the backlog – Keep defining the stories in the backlog board. Move ready stories to the next iteration board.
  • Update the progressed points/hours in each stand-up – Ask for the developers to update the hours spent on each card. With scrum for trello plugin, you just need to add in [] brackets the amount of progressed hours/points.

The iteration template board can be found here: https://trello.com/b/l2Jq0MlP/scrum-iteration-example.

Iteration Board Example

Iteration Board Example

 

Progression update – Let the team update their progress in the cards daily, and have a burning chart updated
Backlog Board – Keep stories in this backlog and update them regularly. Let the team members share it also. From now on you can move ready lists and cards to the next iteration board.
Board Permissions – I like to give to everyone permissions to change the cards. Just add the team of developers as members to the board. They like to add checklists with their things to do, add remarks or links to various test results, documentations and other stuff.

2 thoughts on “Going Agile: Using Trello As Scrum Management Tool

    • Nice alternative, as long as you fill the cards with the new rules. No plugin needed – this is good.
      In the downside, you need to switch to a new tab to see the summary, it won’t show up on the original Trello tab (no plugin…).

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