Somebody mentioned that my design team had created a Trello board for themselves. Something to help them manage their workflow. I killed it.
That is my answer to Bart’s question “what do I do do when the designers want to have a task management system separate from the scrum/kanban board?” Don’t let them.
It is interesting that Bart specifically asked about designers and it was also my designers that had gone all Trello on me. But this isn’t really about that role, it is about any part of the team that wants to go their own way in terms of tools and process. If it is going to be detrimental to the them, then I don’t let them. In this case my problem was visibility. Or lack of.
A principle of Kanban is to “Visualize (the work, workflow and business risks)”. Information radiators are the best way to visualise the work and I’m a big fan of physical boards. They are in your face. You walk into the work space and you can see what is going on.
On the other hand electronic boards, like Trello, are hidden away. You have to go looking for them. And they lack the tactile benefits of physical cards. So they are a poor substitute for a physical board. There are times when an electronic board is a helpful, like with distributed teams, but this wasn’t one of them.
So I killed the electronic board and got the UX team to use the UX board. Yes, it is true, there was already a “UX and Requirements board”, one that was just upstream of the development board. Tickets flowed from one to the other.
Two things were really going on in this situation:
- The UX team wanted to manage their work within their team, away from the scrutiny of the wider team
- They didn’t like the columns on the physical board
I don’t have much patience for the first reason. Visibility all the way. They were welcome to control their own work, and hence change the columns on the physical board, but I insisted they managed their work in public.
It is only with this complete visibility that I, and others, can assess progress and spot blockers when they happen.
This post is part of my What do I do When … ? series. Please drop me a line or add a comment if you’ve got a question you’d like answered.