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A new manager just came on board in another region and asked us to take a photo of our Sprint board and post it to our wiki every day. The question is: should we do this?

  • If yes, by the Team, Scrum Master, or Product Owner?
  • If not, why not and how should we educate the new manager about these reasons?
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A better solution would be setting up a webcam he can connect to at any time - then he can see what is going on and it doesn't make any extra work for anyone in the team. I can't see it doing any harm and it will keep him up to date (to an extent) whenever he feels the need.

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TL;DR

There's nothing fundamentally wrong with this approach. One assumes universal competence with a digital camera, so it's up to the team to decide who should be on camera duty.

There are trade-offs with any type of Sprint Backlog artifact. Decide which is best for the Scrum Team, and then figure out the best way to share that artifact with other interested parties.

The Kanban

The kanban frequently used to display the Sprint Backlog is a common artifact. Its purpose is to radiate information throughout the team and the organization about the current status of the Sprint. If the organization isn't centralized, asking the team to make the kanban (or other Sprint Backlog artifact if you aren't using a kanban) visible is not unreasonable at all.

In fact, this is often a better idea than locking a team into the use of electronic backlog tools because it's physical and accessible to the team,while still visible to outside stakeholders. It also doesn't constrain the team's ability to structure the backlog to suit themselves; you can create any workflow you can imagine with a little masking tape, some markers, and sticky notes or index cards. Not so with electronic tools, which tend to enforce a particular process model.

Sprint Backlogs Don't Have to Use Kanbans

Of course, a Sprint Backlog can take other forms. Using online tools like Jira Agile or Trello can provide electronic alternatives for distributed teams. For that matter, a spreadsheet on Google Docs can work, too. There are also plenty of other alternatives; any competent search engine will turn up more options than you can reasonably explore in an afternoon.

The upside of an electronic tool is that everyone has access to it, regardless of their physical location. The downsides are:

  1. It's hard for the team to congregate around an electronic tool.
  2. Even if the team uses a giant projector or large-screen TV to display the electronic board, sharing a keyboard or mouse will funnel updates through one person at a time during meetings.
  3. Electronic tools require a computing device to update, so you can't just move cards around or scribble on a story during a meeting. You may have to go in search of a computer, pull out a tablet, or perform some other activity that results in task-switching or delays in implementing the change to the backlog.

In most cases I firmly believe that the physical kanban is the best choice, but circumstances differ. Your mileage will therefore vary.

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  • Trello is indeed a good and Free option once could choose. – Shubh Jul 10 '14 at 10:31

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