Physical and Electronic Boards

Several weeks ago, I went to a team leader event with @csapoz and *Krisz, *where - besides other interesting topics - we talked about the usage of physical and electronic Kanban and Scrum boards. At that time I thought that electronic boards were evil - kill communication and collaboration -, but I decided to give a try to their suggestion: use the physical board for tracking and collaboration, and use the electronic board for administration.

It turned out that the idea is excellent, and my early fears were groundless. My colleagues are hardly using the electronic tool, and every important decision and discussion is done in front of the physical board.

As an electronic tool, we are using redmine in order to

  • store our user stories, feature requests and defects

  • record queued, started, finished dates for our cumulative flow diagram (CFD)

  • record estimated and spent times for improving our planning, and for our Product Owner

Our post-its on the Kanban board have the following information:

  • redmine issue number and a short slogan

  • queued, started, finished dates for tracking ageing items

  • number of times an issue had to be moved back

We have been working with both systems for almost two months now, and there isn’t any administrative overhead, and actually it is easier to generate charts from the database of redmine than from post-its.

Usually, electronic tools come with fancy AJAX based boards, and it is really tempting to use them, but actually, they aren’t that advanced at the moment - lack of flexibility for example -, and they kill the collaboration.

I know that I could set up the tool so that I get yet another annoying email about a change, but when I see somebody moving a post-it on the physical board, I know that something has changed, I can go there and talk about it. No electronic tool can replace this experience.

What do you think? If you are using electronic tools, how are you using them?

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