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Physical and Digital Boards in Agile
- Yair Mark
Throughout my career whenever working in an agile manner the one debate that constantly comes up is whether to use a physical board or/and a digital board to keep track of the team's work. As far as I can see it the pros and cons for each are:
- Single Common View: There is a single physical view of what is in progress.
- Work How You Want: It does not restrict how you work. For example Jira only allows one person to be assigned to a task at a time while a physical board does not have this limitation.
- Forced To Disconnect And Take Breaks: Interacting with it forces people to disconnect for a bit which is not a bad thing at all.
- No Need to Fiddle With Access Control: You do not have to grant people access to it, if they have physical access to your workspace they have access.
- No hierarchy: You do not have to worry about giving people different types of roles, everyone has all roles like deleting stories and tasks.
- No Remote Work: As you need physical access to the board you cannot easily work remotely as a team. You could have some people move stories for you but that becomes an admin burden and reduces the effectiveness of the board.
- Loss of control of the way of work: You cannot enforce a certain way of work as people can interact with the board as they see fit.
- Kill Tress for the Cards You need to either print cards that have a format you are happy with or just use stickies to keep track of epics, stories and tasks
- _Accessible Remotely: _ Accessible from anywhere remotely once the participants have been granted access.
- Easily keep track of card movements In Jira you can see log of what happened with the card, when it was moved, when the story points were updated etc.
- Add as many notes as you want to the story
- Can integrate with other tools: Jira for example allows you to integrate with Github and can pick up commits related to the story as long as the commit starts with the Jira number.
- Can have a learning curve: Getting up and running on some of these tools (where people are not used to it) can be quite a chore given how unuserfriendly some of these tools are.
- Forces a way of work: As these tools often have quirks and limitations that make it difficult/impossible to work differently for example Jira only allows one person to be assigned to a story eventhough more than one person could be working on different tasks related to that story.
Neither of these pro and con lists are exhaustive but gives an idea of when one might use one over the other. My personal view is it does not matter which you use as long as you use either approach and not both. What I have found is teams often cannot agree on an approach and end up using both at the same time. This usually fails as keeping these 2 boards in sync becomes an admin nightmare.