We use ServiceNow story boards and one element of this tool is that it provides little coloured dots for representing attributes of stories or spikes.

These dots are very limited in number, but our PM has configured some of them to be quite useful, from a visibility use case:

  • Red: blocked
  • Green: Developer work
  • Blue: DBA work
  • Yellow: Story (as opposed to Spike)

However, some of the dots are, IMHO, being bastardised for unrelated purposes. Some of the other dots are:

  • Orange: In Sprint - my objection to this is that a story is in sprint if it is in any column from To Do to Done
  • Purple: (Dependent upon) External Team - my objection here is that stories dependent on other teams/or being developed by other teams should have that described within the story and should be prevented from entering the sprint during sprint planning (necessarily involving reading of the story content)
  • Pink: Low Priority - my objection to this is that any low priority story will have it's place on the board and is the responsibility of the PO to set it's position; as it's position rises so too does it's priority; hence, priority is not a static attribute but a growing one

What is the appropriate response to the Orange, Purple and Pink dots? Is there a standard practice regarding even the Red, Green, Blue and Yellow dot approach? (Am I overthinking this?)

  • Have you read where I've stated my objections? I'm of the understanding that these things should not be done on an agile board. For example, having a story on the board which is not being worked on by anyone on the team.
    – Matt W
    Jan 24, 2019 at 12:44

1 Answer 1


Ar some level it depends on what you're using the story board for.

If it's for tracking what the team is doing, then you're right; this is overcrowding the board for no useful reason.

But if you're using it as an overview of the project status then these dots are useful.

Keep in mind that different people may be using this for different reasons, in which case you're overthinking this and your input will not be welcomed.

OTOH if the board is too cluttered then you may want to ask for a reduction in dots, so that it becomes easier to deal with.

  • It's for tracking the work the team is employed upon.
    – Matt W
    Jan 24, 2019 at 13:13

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