Continuing from the Part 1, one of the first things we incorporated was to combine the taskboard/backlog into one. We utilised a shared Google spreadsheet which we both have running on our own machines.
Whilst it is true that visibility and something physical such as a taskboard with stickynotes is very important to scrum projects, but because this is a side project, at times, we’d be working remotely so a lot of our communications were done through chat/email. And because we were our own stakeholders and product owners, there was no need to show any progress to anyone else but ourselves, so we decided to combine the taskboard/backlog into one.
How did we make it work?
Using the concepts of the backlog, we first populated a numbered column so that we can rank the tasks in the backlog. We then proceeded to fill it from our initial brainstorm sessions. As we proceeded in the project, we would both add to this column and shift items around from discussions to enable us to focus on getting the important tasks out of the way first (things that urgently needed completion so that the product can be released). To this list we added a 3rd column with an owner column so we don’t overlap the work. For visibility, we also separately created a completed section where we would move items across to when we finished tasks, keeping each other up to date with progress respectively. In a separate tab, we also have a notes page, purely to jot down ideas, notes, think of it as a virtual whiteboard where things can be left there for further discussion during the next stand-up or catch-up etc. This enabled us to use the Spreadsheet as a hybrid backlog/taskboard.
Sample format of the Google spreadsheet.
Is it working?
Yes, and well. The obvious factor as to why this is working well is because we are both similarly motivated and invested in this project. We work well independently and we’re still at a stage where we feel like we’re progressing well even when no formal release date has been set. As long as this consensus remains in place, I believe this will keep working. Of course, in a scrum project, if a dev team is like this, it will work. But the real point here is, why can’t a virtual taskboard be used? Especially with the current trend in I.T being working remotely and also offshoring, a physical taskboard is not really possible. So, since everyone is on their computers all day, wouldn’t a shared online taskboard be as effective as a physical one?
Have you tried something similar? Did you do anything differently? Have you implemented this in a bigger team?