Tuesday Agile Tool: The Agile Whiteboard

I've decided to add a new segment. On the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of each month I'll share and / or review a tool my agile team uses. Now on with the Tuesday Agile Tool.

Most agile teams have a set of tools that they use. These tools make our agile work easier. They vary from elaborate and complex to static and simple. Some are best used in a set and others are good stand-alone pieces.

There is one fundamental tool that every agile team should use. The agile whiteboard! The agile whiteboard is central to the agile team. It provides a clear view of the commitment for the current sprint and the promise of achieving it.

You can see a lot of information about the current sprint when you use the whiteboard. Here's a breakdown:

- The user stories that are the sprint commitment, more commonly known as the sprint backlog
- The estimates on those user stories
- Each of the tasks involved with all those user stories
- The estimates on those tasks
- The current status of each task (To do, In progress, Testing and Done)
- Obstacle and risk markers
- A prioritized product backlog with acceptance criteria

I have a few extra items on my agile whiteboard. A daily update burndown chart. It helps to track are progress and motivate the team. A calendar of the sprint duration with markers for the sprint start date, current date, end date, demo date and release date.

It also helps to have the sprint name or number, the sprint goal statement, and contact info of the Scrum master. In addition, but purely optional, the testing environment name and code branch name help to remind developers were they can push and test their code.

If you're a stickler for details and like to follow a model then try out Scott W. Ambler's Whiteboard model:
http://www.agilemodeling.com/essays/whiteboards.htm

He's outline some Whiteboard etiquette Rules as well:
http://www.agilemodeling.com/shared/AMWhiteboardEtiquetteRules.pdf

Who's responsible for keeping the board up to date? The whole team. All teams members, scrum masters and product owners are responsible for the board.

The agile board provides a couple of values. Transparency and communication.
Transparency is achieved by whiteboard because it shows in a clear view of everything about the current sprint. Communication is achieved because the whiteboard provides a ground where collaboration is encourage and teams can talk about every item on it.

Overall, The agile whiteboard is essential for an agile teams success. It reenforcing the values of agile with a physical manifestation and understand of our team goals.


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