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Currently our team uses JIRA to manage our agile projects. JIRA works alright but has two major limitations for us.

Our goal is to have a backlog of stories/cards, and be able to organize them on multiple public and private boards. For instance, we would have a "Features" board that public users could watch to see when features are being worked on, and when they are done. We would also have Public Roadmap, and a private roadmap. The goal is to be more transparent with our customers, and to better organize tasks that could exist on multiple boards simultaniously.

In JIRA:

  • From what I can tell, it is impossible to share stories between multiple boards (We need this)
  • We can't make a public facing board (To share roadmap and features with our clients).

So we started to look at Trello like tools, including Trello, KanTree, and PinTask. However, each of them had a feature we needed that the others didn't.

In Trello and KanTree, you can have public boards, but you can't easily share a card on more than one board. KanTree has a great feature where a card can have it's own board (like an epic). In PinTask you can share cards through "mirroring" but other than that it doesn't have the other features we need.

And to top it all off, Trello like tools are not great for managing a backlog just because the UI is so simplified it makes it hard to parse long lists of stories.

So, where does this all bring us? Well, we feel to best manage our process, as well as provide our customers the most up to date information on our product development process we need a tool that supports the following:

  • Ability to manage a backlog of stories that is not tied to a Scrum Board.
  • The ability to have stories exist on multiple boards (Go through multiple workflows)
  • The ability for us to allow some boards to be public, so customers can track progress on valuable features
  • Nice to have: Good support for sub-tasks on stories or the ability to organize this nicely as an epic.

I have spent a few weeks now trying to find the best way to do this with no luck. I am hoping more people with experience with a variety of tools can offer some advice.

Thanks!

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JIRA is perfectly capable of sharing stories across multiple boards. It is also able to restrict access to one board while making another board public.

Create two JIRA projects one for the private stories and one for the public ones. Now create a board that points at the public stories project and make this board accessible to the public (which you can do with project permissions).

Next create your internal board. This will use a JQL query that selects all stories from both the private and public projects. Ensure that your private stories project is permission restricted so that the public can't see it.

The team will use the internal board as it will show both public and private stories. They can mix up both types in the same sprint if they want to.

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I've always found it best to manage the connection between the two backlogs manually. You have a board (or something else) showing high level features which you make public, and you maintain something else for your internal team. This way your internal team can use whatever is best for them, and they are not tied to something which makes publishing things possible. It also keeps any 'colourful' language in the internal tool without people having to think about what they are writing :).

The public facing versions can then be tweaked to best suit that audience. For example, using more of their language rather than how you might discuss things internally and possibly linking to high def prototypes rather than mockups and spec documents.

Hopefully you aren't tracking things publicly at such a low level of detail that the manual overhead is too much. We tried to set up something automatic at my previous company but ultimately decided to split the functions and get the best tool/process for each use case.

If you are interested in using Trello for this there are some useful resources listed here https://trello.com/b/VliA4Xzm/scrum (disclosure - I maintain that board). Re the issue of it not being good for managing a product backlog. I'd suggest splitting your backlog into multiple lists for upcoming releases. You will still probably have a general 'backlog' list but the bits people are most commonly interested in are the upcoming planned releases. Perhaps this way you could use Trello externally and something else internally?

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