Step 5: Create A Collaborative workspace

So now you’ve got your backlog in order, estimated your backlog, clarified your requirements, and planned your sprint.

Now you’re ready for Step #5 – Create a collaborative workspace …

I know I called this series, ’10 easy steps’, but the first 4 steps are actually quite hard work! This one’s a breeze.

Whiteboard your walls

Cover your walls in whiteboards. You can’t have too many.

A whiteboard beats any software system and for many purposes. High level plans/roadmaps, key dates, design discussions, sketches of functionality, issues log, ideas, stats, status reports, topical posters, etc, etc. You name it, stick it on the wall!

Create a place for Collaboration

The whiteboarded area will be your team’s “collaboration hub”. A visibility wall. The centre of all team discussions. The place where the team meets every day (standing up). The place where you can get everything you need to know. At a glance.

Management by post-it note

Mark up a whiteboard with 5 columns. You can add more if you want to. But at least do these. Label the columns: Product Backlog, Tasks To Do, Work In Progress, Ready To Be Verified and Done!

On a post-it note or card, write the reference number and description of each Product Backlog item that is included in the current Sprint. Put these in the left-most column, ‘Product Backlog’. These notes don’t need to fully describe the functionality or requirements. They’re just reminders about what’s included in the Sprint, and indications of progress.

Then write up a note for each Task on the Sprint Backlog. Place the Tasks beside their relevant Product Backlog items, in the column labelled Tasks To Do.

When someone starts working on a Task, they should move it to the column labelled Work In Progress. When it’s ready to be verified, move it to the next column. When it’s done, it should be moved to the Done! column (remember to define what your team means by done).

This will create unrivalled visibility for you, the team, the product owner and any other interested managers and stakeholders.

“Touchy feely”

In my opinion, no software tool can replace the board. People have a special tactile relationship with the board.

Like email compared with face-to-face communication, no tool will replace the sense of collaboration and teamwork this focal point provides.

Yes, it might be more efficient to use a software tool. But efficiency isn’t everything. Effectiveness is more important than efficiency.

This is so much more than a progress board. It’s an excuse for people to collaborate. And in development, where many people are not necessarily natural collaborators, it’s an important step to get the team talking. To get the team working together. As a team.

Next, Step #6: The team Sprints to achieve the Sprint Goal…


See also:
How to implement Scrum in 10 easy steps:
Step #1: Get your backlog in order!
Step #2: How to estimate your product backlog
Step #3: Sprint Planning/clarify requirements
Step #4: Sprint Planning/estimate tasks
Step #5: Create a collaborative workspace
Step #6: Sprint!
Step #7: Stand up and be counted!
Step #8: Track progress with a daily burndown chart
Step #9: Finish when you said you would
Step #10: Review, reflect, repeat…

‘Implementing Scrum’ PowerPoint Presentation

10 Key Principles of Agile Software Development

5 Responses to “Step 5: Create A Collaborative workspace”

  1. Web2.0PRDude says:

    How do you do this if you team is distributed?

    Howard Oliver
    What If What Next

  2. Kelly Waters says:

    It’s certainly much more difficult to achieve collaboration with a distributed team.

    I understand there are various tools on the market that seek to address this issue, providing a virtual whiteboard and collaboration tools.

    However I haven’t used them so can’t really comment on them from personal experience.

    It would be interesting to hear from my readers about tools that can help to alleviate this problem…


  3. Anonymous says:

    if yer team is distributed buy everyone their own white board. Cheap. Besides it’s better that way, otherwise one guy takes all the space and leaves the rest of us with a tiny spot where you can’t fit a unicorn or submarine.

  4. Anonymous says:

    What do you recommend to capture the history of past sprints and what was done? Just digital pics of the final board and burndown chart?

    Chris M.

  5. Coltin says:

    At last some rationaitly in our little debate.

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