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At the moment I'm Scrum Master for my place of work. We have one Scrum Team in our organisation which is split across two sites:

Site 1: Scrum Master, Developer, QA

Site 2: Developer, Operational, QA

We currently employ the following Agile practices, which we used to reduce our backlog:

  • Monthly Sprints
  • Daily Stand ups
  • Burndown
  • Artefacts
  • Business Product Owners
  • Group Estimations
  • 3 monthly role swaps for the Scrum Master position within the team.
  • Sprint Planning / Retrospective

Now over the past year this has worked amazingly and we now are looking at "Agile Phase 2" to improve the process further:

  • Planning Poker
  • User Stories
  • Velocity (Using points)
  • Enhance our Sprint Planning with Stories
  • Introduce the use of XPlanner+

Now I have been reading the excellent book by Mike Cohen on User Stories Applied for the stories part but i have a question concerning storyboards themselves.

We have Geo-Located teams within the UK, so i was going to have one Storyboard but upload pictures to a Sharepoint location for the other team who cannot access it. Is that the best practice? We dont want to invest in digital boards just yet, we want to see how the physical board pans out first.

Other Questions: - What size board is the best to use? - Any advice of what type of physical board to get (Metal, etc)

Thanks for the time any advice is much appreciated.

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I recommend Trello.com as a digital duplicate of your physical board. Trello is free, it's very easy to use and doesn't dive into too many bells and whistles. You can invite multiple people to a single board.

After the daily standup the SM can update the digital board from the physical. It also allows the remote team to make updates to their tasks and the change tracking means the SM can easily see these and update the physical board.

As for the physical board. That's going to be what works for your team. I prefer cork boards and thumb tacks. My coworker prefers white boards and painters tape as they can make notes on the white board.

  • Thanks Joel, appreciated. I will definitely check out Trello and i think we will go with a cork board for the physical. – garfbradaz Feb 16 '12 at 19:46
  • I started using Trello a month back and have ditched all my other taskboards in favor of it for my personal work. One note, they don't have a story point feature in the base version. Run it on chrome and you can get a free plug in that someone wrote. – Joel Bancroft-Connors Feb 16 '12 at 19:49
  • Excellent, thanks Joel for all of your assistance, very much appreciated. – garfbradaz Feb 17 '12 at 11:54
  • One thing I really dislike about Trello is that you can't delete lists nor tasks; you can only archive them. – Rafa Feb 23 '12 at 9:31
  • They've updated their interface I guess as I've had a delete option since I started using it. I can't delete from the iPhone, but can just fine from the full web app. – Joel Bancroft-Connors Feb 23 '12 at 19:54
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Maybe a bit late, but you should also checkout TinyPM - http://tinypm.com

I'm using TinyPM in most of my projects now and love it. It's more than just a digital Scrum board, and can/should also be used by POs to input and manage the user stories. It comes with such nice things like a backlog management, burndown charts, print view of story cards (for the reals board ;)), and can handle multiple sprints and scrum teams.

The most common way is to install TinyPM on a local machine, then you can obtain a free license for up to 5 users. Perfect for testing. But you can also go for a hosted version - however, never tried the hosted way.

For the real life board I preffer cork boards. Size depends on team size, mostly something around 180cm x 120 cm (widthxheight). Recently I saw magentic flipchartboards at a client's office. The developers using magnets with their photos on top to stick the tasks. Also very nice.

Advantage of the magentic version: At the end of the sprint you cannot say which developer finished a specific task, because you don't have to write names on the tasks. How can that be an advantage? So, without a name, the whole team is responsible - as it should be in scrum. You avoid things like POs going directly to a developer: "I saw that you did this task. It's totally (place your word here)".

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You might want to consider using a tool like Pivotal Tracker. It gives you a way to have a digital board that you can share with another team.

You say you want to stick with a physical board, but obviously that is impossible since you're dealing with teams that are not in the same office. You can continue to use physical board as the main tool, but instead of uploading images of the physical board, mirror all the data on the digital board. This will give the remote team a high fidelity representation of the board.

This will require a bit more work than just taking a picture of the board, but it would give the remote workers the ability to read the cards, see the back of the cards, etc.

As for the size of the physical board -- my company uses boards that are around six feet wide, which is a decent size. I definitely wouldn't go smaller. Make it a whiteboard with a metal backing. This allows you to write on the board, obviously, and with a metal backing it's easy to attach magnets for whatever reason. For example, some of our teams use different colored magnets for each team member, and they place the magnets on the cards they are working on.

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