Electronic Scrum Boards with Jeffrey Palermo

I found myself eating lunch with a group that included Jeffrey Pallermo one day at Tech Ed. We were discussing our favorite sessions at the conference and I noted my interest in the new TFS Scrum process template from Conchango and the electronic Scrum board they will soon be bringing to market. I actually posted on it here.

Jeffery weighed in that he prefers low tech note cards on the cork board because of the high tactile nature of using them.

I pointed out that our teams have huge electronic dashboards for use during their daily Scrum meetings, and the dynamic nature of the Scrum board I saw from Conchango would work similarly to a a cork board experience.

“Yeah,” someone interjected, “and you could get a touch screen to touch the work item cards. Touch it, move it, hold it and be mad at it, whatever.”

“That’d be sweet,” I thought.

Jeffrey responded, “You just told me how to spend a whole lot of money so the Scrum master doesn’t have to do 15 minutes of data entry per day and write out the cards.”



Damn it, he’s right.

The geek in me really wanted to like the bigger, more expensive, technical solution to this problem. You know what, though? The Scrum Master is there to facilitate the team’s success and to be the gate to management.

I will freely admit right here and now that I have been slacking. I was recently working as Scrum Master for a team back home and I taught the team how to use TFS to manage their own work items. I also asked them to update their time remaining on SBLIs before our daily Scrum. You know what? That was wrong of me. That was flat out laziness. They even had a cork board in their work space.

I resolve right here and now that when I get home I will make sure the team has their Scrum board. I will make sure the team doesn’t have to deal with time tracking. I will cover the administration of the team; that’s my job as Scrum Master.

The team needs frictionless tools. They’ll get them. It’s important.

If you are thinking I am declaring project management or cost accounting tools unnecessary, you are dead wrong. The transparency into the team and the overall planning of features and work items is hugely important. I just know it is the job of the Scrum Master to deal with it, not the team’s.

Frankly, I am willing to bet this kind of data management model will result in more accurate and detailed reporting anyway.

Lesson learned. Thanks, Jeff.

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David Starr

David Starr is Director of Technical Learning at GoDaddy. He is a professional software craftsman committed to improving agility, collaboration, and technical excellence in software development teams. He is the founder of Elegant Code Solutions, has served in numerous leadership contexts, and was as an early and consistent advocate for agile software development. He has successfully led product development initiatives and organizational transitions in numerous positions including Chief Software Craftsman at Scrum.org, Sr. Program Manager for Visual Studio and Team Foundation Server at Microsoft, Chief Software Architect, Director of Product Development, Pluralsight Author, independent consultant, and trainer. David’s professional focus is on all aspects of developing, delivering, and operating software systems. With specific attention on the end-to-end process, methods, and practices of high performing development teams, his skills transcend specific technology stacks, although he has has a specific skills focusing on the Microsoft stack. He speaks at various international conferences, is a frequent guest on various podcasts, author of articles throughout the technology industry, and the founder of Elegant Code Solutions. He is a 5 time Microsoft MVP in Visual Studio ALM.

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