There are an enormous number of tools out there to help your daily project management, but of all of them, Trello has been my best choice for a successful Agile task tracking. Free, adaptive and offers real-time collaboration, Trello is a no-brainer choice when in comes to select a Tool to manage a new project.
Trello, however, having no boundaries regarding as HOW you integrated it in your daily workflow, can also easily become a complete mayhem.
After a long period of trial and error I found a few best practices to apply when starting a new project with Trello and Scrum.
First things first: The basics
If you are already comfortable with Scrum you can skip this part and go directly to the Best-Practices and tips.
I've always been fascinated by productivity and project management. Ironically, I spend way too much time researching the best methodologies to achieve the best results on the projects I'm currently working on. A few years ago I understood that there will never be the perfect way to plan efficiently. Planning for me is guessing. The best practice 99% of the times is just getting to work. But since there is no harm in guessing, we might as well "guess" with a method.
The key factor for successful project management is Agility. Agility is defined as the power of moving and adapting easily, with the ability to quickly think and draw conclusions.
The Agile Manifesto
Agile software development is a group of software development methods based on iterative and incremental development, where requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organizing, cross-functional teams. It promotes adaptive planning, evolutionary development and delivery, a time-boxed iterative approach, and encourages rapid and flexible response to change. It is a conceptual framework that promotes foreseen tight interactions throughout the development cycle.
The Agile Manifesto was written by a group of 17 software developers in the interest of making development better and more effective. It states: We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it. Through this work we have come to value: Individuals and interactions over processes and tools Working software over comprehensive documentation Customer collaboration over contract negotiation. Responding to change over following a plan.
What is Scrum?
Scrum is an iterative and incremental Agile software development framework for managing software projects and product or application development. Its focus is on "a flexible, holistic product development strategy where a development team works as a unit to reach a common goal" as opposed to a "traditional, sequential approach". Scrum enables the creation of self-organizing teams by encouraging co-location of all team members, and verbal 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.
To have an overview of the Agile (with the Scrum framework) development process and its key benefits you can download for FREE a Quick-Start Guide provided by Civic Actions or gather further information visiting the Scrum Alliance website (http://www.scrumalliance.org/why-scrum).
What is Trello?
Trello is a collaboration tool that organizes your projects into boards. In one glance, Trello tells you what's being worked on, who's working on what, and where something is in a process. For further detail you can visit Trello's Getting Started Guide.
Using Trello for Scrum based Projects
When starting a new project on Trello I use the following template to integrate efficiently Scrum:
Reference/Resources: We all have those files that need to be fetched often. An Invoice template, a scanned document, etc. Important resources added to this list will be accessible with a click.
Sprint Backlog: list of tasks that must be completed during the Scrum sprint.
Blocked: An external impediment is where a dependency exists outside of the team, and the team are unable to progress an item until work outside of their control is done.
In progress: Add in this list what is currently being done.
QA: The Scrum Master will assign this list to all completed MVP's. Ready to be tested for quality assurance.
Bug Report: During QA bugs might rise. Use this list to track down all the problems before moving the MVP's to done.
Done: All MVP's that pass QA can be archived here.
For your convenience I have created a public template. you can view it and duplicate it by visiting the following link: https://trello.com/b/Nr3RvsY1/
10 tips to enhance SCRUM based Project Management with Trello
Limit board management to the SCRUM Master: Avoid chaos by limiting card management permission only to the SCRUM Master.
Turn off notifications to avoid distractions: Trello must be a habit in your workflow. Get things done by avoiding distractions. Limit your access to Trello to only 3 times a day to focus on your tasks.
Add a reference list: Not everyone has an organized archive. Adding vital resources and references to this list can save up a huge amount of time when trying to retrive vital information on the go.
Allow card commenting but promote Skype discussions when working remotely: In the early days my team started using Trello, there was complete chaos. Everyone moved freely cards, some didn't have notifications turned on, others spent far too much time organizing their tasks on it, and others mistaken Trello for Facebook. Card commenting can be allowed, but for in-depth discussions a good old Skype Call can save up dozens of minutes.
Prioritize actively: Prioritization: While the concept of ‘story points’ or ‘effort levels’ are not directly represented, priorities can be determined in a few ways. A voting system allows for stakeholders to provide input into the features that are most interesting to them. Additionally, Cards can be re-ordered within Lists to provide relative priority within a given List
Create a QA list to assure product quality: Using a QA list will help you achieve a fast and reliable feedback on the product.
Create a separated list for bug-tracking: This will result in effective bug fixing cycles. Rather than building in a waterfall fashion and resolving bugs at the end, Scrum and agile prod teams to address defects as soon as they're discovered.
Always allow the stakeholder to observe the board: Having the Stake-holder observing the Work in progress can increase productivity by removing the need to update the client. Just be sure to instruct wisely the product owner on your Project Management methodology.
Integrate external tools for Burndown Charts: You can find many online extensions to integrate burndown charts in Trello. However I can't seem to find a one that fit's my needs seamlessly. Use external tools, for example you can use a shared Google Drive Spread sheet to update the burndown chart. It is easy to use and gives you an overall idea and accuracy in a fast and simple way on how the project is evolving during its process with a nice graph displaying the Burnout: SCRUM Agile Project Management Burnout Graph.
Create a new board for Sprint Retrospectives: A Trello Board can be a great Sprint Retrospective tool. Civic Actions has published a free Sprint Retrospective Template to copy: https://trello.com/board/sprint-retrospective-template/506c569dc680eaa46906ab1f
Since I'm constantly tweaking and updating my Trello workflows I'm curious to know how others are using Trello for Scrum. If you have any thoughts or suggestions please feel free to comment below.