How to Track Progress with Agile Management: The Task Board - dummies

How to Track Progress with Agile Management: The Task Board

By Mark C. Layton

In an agile management context, a task board — in conjunction with the sprint backlog — gives a quick, easy view of the items within the sprint that the development team is working on and has completed.

The task board can be made up of sticky notes on a white board. Because the task board is tactile — people physically move a user story card through its completion — it can engage the development team more than an electronic document, such as a sprint backlog, ever could. The task board encourages thought and action just by existing in the scrum team’s work area, where everyone can see the board.

A sample task board.
A sample task board.

The task board has at least four columns, from left to right:

  • To Do: The user stories and tasks that remain to be accomplished are in the far left column.

  • In Progress: User stories and tasks the development team is currently working on populate this column, which should contain just one or two user stories. Having multiple user stories in progress is an alert that development team members are not working cross-functionally and, instead, are hoarding desired tasks. You risk having multiple user stories partially done instead of more user stories completely done by the end of the sprint.

  • Accept: Completed user stories move here ready for the product owner to review and either provide feedback or accept.

  • Done: This column holds user stories the product owner has reviewed and verified complete. Allowing only the product owner to move user stories to the Done column prevents misunderstandings about user story status.

Limit your work in progress and select one task at a time. Leave other tasks available in the To Do column. Ideally, a development team works on only one user story at a time and swarms on that user story to complete it quickly.