Transparency and the Tracking Board

August 23, 2011 — Posted by Ken Pugh

Progress in delivering business value needs to be tracked to give feedback to the Business, management, and team. There are many ways to perform tracking. One of the simplest and most transparent is the tracking board. There are many forms of tracking boards. In this blog, I show two common versions: a Kanban board and a Scrum board.

Suppose you have a story such as, "As the customer, I want to be able to opt-out to having my location tracked so that I will not get advertisements specific to where I currently am."

Implementing this story into a releasable unit may involve many steps such as

  • User experience analysis to design the opt-out display
  • User-interface programs to create the display
  • Data-base additions to add a opt-out field
  • Application modifications to use the opt-out field
  • Testing to ensure the change works in all application environments.

For sake of this example, let's assume these steps are in sequential order and each must be completed before the next can begin.

Tracking with a Kanban Board

On the Kanban board, there would be at least seven columns (Input Queue through Ready to Release) and there would be one story card which I will call "Location opt-out" for short. (Note: For experienced Kanbanists there could be more columns for queues but they are not shown here). This is shown below.

The story card is first placed on the Input Queue. Then the card moves across the columns as each step is in progress.

Initial Board

Input Queue

User Experience

Display

Database

Application

Environmental Testing

Ready to Release

Location opt-out

           
             

User Experience in Progress

Input Queue

User Experience

Display

Database

Application

Environmental Testing

Ready to Release

 

Location opt-out

         
             

Display in Progress

Input Queue

User Experience

Display

Database

Application

Environmental Testing

Ready to Release

   

Location opt-out

       
             

And finally, story is done

Input Queue

User Experience

Display

Database

Application

Environmental Testing

Ready to Release

           

Location opt-out

             

Tracking with a Scrum Board

On a Scrum board as we show in our Net Objectives classes, there would be one story card with five task cards. When the story is being worked on, the story card and the task cards would move to the "Story In Progress" column. When a step is being worked on, the corresponding task card would be in the "Tasks in progress" column. When it is completed, the task would move to the "Tasks Awaiting Story Completion" column and the next task would move to the "Tasks In Progress" column. When the final task is completed, the story card and associated tasks would move to "Ready to Release." (At this point, the task cards could be thrown away because the story is done).

Initial Board

Iteration Backlog

Story In Progress

Task In Progress

Tasks Awaiting Story Completion

Ready to Release

S-Location opt-out

T-User Experience

T-Display

T-Database

T-Application

T-Environmental Testing

       
         

User Experience in Progress

Iteration Backlog

Story In Progress

Task In Progress

Tasks Awaiting Story Completion

Ready to Release

 

S-Location opt-out

T-Display

T-Database

T-Application

T-Environmental Testing

T-User Experience

   
         

Display in Progress

Iteration Backlog

Story in progress

Task in progress

Tasks awaiting story completion

Ready to Release

 

S-Location opt-out

T-Database

T-Application

T-Environmental Testing

T-Display

T-User Experience

 
         

Story done

Iteration Backlog

Story in progress

Task in progress

Tasks awaiting story completion

Ready to Release

         
       

S-Location opt-out

         

Simultaneous Work

If the steps in the story can be worked on simultaneously, the Kanban board can be altered so that the individual steps appear like tasks on the Scrum board. Each row (or "swim-lane" as they are often called) would contain a single story card and the associated step cards. However work-in-progress on a step would be shown with the step card in the associated column.

For example, if User Experience, Database, and Application could occur simultaneously, then the Kanban Board might look like this:

Input Queue

User Experience

Display

Database

Application

Environmental Testing

Ready to Release

S-Location opt-out

T-Display

T- Environmental Testing

T- User Experience

 

T-Database

T-Application

   
             

The Scrum board might look like this:

Iteration Backlog

Stories in progress

Tasks in progress

Tasks awaiting story completion

Ready to Release

 

S-Location opt-out

T-Display

T-Environmental Testing

T-User Experience

T-Database

T-Application

   
         

WIP Limits

In order to show a limit to work-in-progress on either type of board, a numeric limit is shown for the amount of work in each column.

For Kanban, it might look like this:

Input Queue

User Experience (2)

Display (2)

Database (1)

Application (2)

Environmental Testing (3)

Ready to Release

S-Location opt-out

           
             

For Scrum, it might look like this:

Iteration Backlog

Stories in progress (2)

Tasks in progress (4)

Tasks awaiting story completion

Ready to Release

S-Location opt-out

T-User Experience

T-Display

T-Database

T-Application

T-Environmental Testing

       
         

Note that for the Kanban-style, the limitation is placed on each step type. For the Scrum board, it is placed on the total number of steps (tasks).

For either board, the progress can be quickly reviewed. A step that is stuck will show up as either something that stays in "Tasks in Progress" on a Scrum board, or a story that stays in a particular column on a Kanban board. A quick visual determination of how far a story has progressed is indicated on a Scrum board by the ratio of tasks in each of the "Stories in progress", "Tasks in progress" and "Tasks awaiting story completion". On a Kanban board, it's indicated by the column in which the story appears.

With a Kanban board, the columns represent the steps through which a requirement progresses. It is easy to show all steps, including those not in a particular team's responsibility, by adding an additional column. With the Scrum board, adding tasks for steps not in a team's responsibility can make for stories in progress with tasks not complete-able by the team. In that case, stories are often sub-divided into a set of stories that are assigned to different teams. A "story integration" board, which looks like a Scrum board, but where the tasks cards represent the sub-story cards, can help keep track of these inter-team dependencies.

For example: suppose every story had to go through a budgeting step, which was outside of the team's control. If the budgeting is being worked on, an overall Kanban board might look like this:

Overall Input Queue

Budgeting

Development

Ready To Release

S-Location opt-out

S- Development

S-Budgeting

   
       

An overall Scrum board might look like this:

Iteration Backlog

Overall Stories in progress

Sub-stories in progress

Sub-stories awaiting story completion

Ready to Release

 

S-Location opt-out

S-Development

S-Budgeting

   
         

Summary

Scrum-style boards and Kanban-style boards can provide the same information. They just have different ways of showing it.

Subscribe to our blog Net Objectives Thoughts Blog

Share this:

About the author | Ken Pugh

Ken Pugh was a fellow consultant with Net Objectives (www.netobjectives.com). He helps companies transform into lean-agility through training and coaching. His particular interests are in communication (particularly effectively communicating requirements), delivering business value, and using lean principles to deliver high quality quickly.



        

Blog Authors

Al Shalloway
Business, Operations, Process, Sales, Agile Design and Patterns, Personal Development, Agile, Lean, SAFe, Kanban, Kanban Method, Scrum, Scrumban, XP
Cory Foy
Change Management, Innovation Games, Team Agility, Transitioning to Agile
Guy Beaver
Business and Strategy Development, Executive Management, Management, Operations, DevOps, Planning/Estimation, Change Management, Lean Implementation, Transitioning to Agile, Lean-Agile, Lean, SAFe, Kanban, Scrum
Israel Gat
Business and Strategy Development, DevOps, Lean Implementation, Agile, Lean, Kanban, Scrum
Jim Trott
Business and Strategy Development, Analysis and Design Methods, Change Management, Knowledge Management, Lean Implementation, Team Agility, Transitioning to Agile, Workflow, Technical Writing, Certifications, Coaching, Mentoring, Online Training, Professional Development, Agile, Lean-Agile, SAFe, Kanban
Ken Pugh
Agile Design and Patterns, Software Design, Design Patterns, C++, C#, Java, Technical Writing, TDD, ATDD, Certifications, Coaching, Mentoring, Professional Development, Agile, Lean-Agile, Lean, SAFe, Kanban, Kanban Method, Scrum, Scrumban, XP
Marc Danziger
Business and Strategy Development, Change Management, Team Agility, Online Communities, Promotional Initiatives, Sales and Marketing Collateral
Max Guernsey
Analysis and Design Methods, Planning/Estimation, Database Agility, Design Patterns, TDD, TDD Databases, ATDD, Lean-Agile, Scrum
Scott Bain
Analysis and Design Methods, Agile Design and Patterns, Software Design, Design Patterns, Technical Writing, TDD, Coaching, Mentoring, Online Training, Professional Development, Agile
Steve Thomas
Business and Strategy Development, Change Management, Lean Implementation, Team Agility, Transitioning to Agile
Tom Grant
Business and Strategy Development, Executive Management, Management, DevOps, Analyst, Analysis and Design Methods, Planning/Estimation, Innovation Games, Lean Implementation, Agile, Lean-Agile, Lean, Kanban