Trello Agile Series: The Sprint Board

Hi, welcome to the Trello Agile Series: Sprint Board webinar. My name is Brian Cervino, I am the Product Marketing Manager at Trello and today I am joined by our support specialist Michael Labrecque-Jessen, as well as Nikita Dyer and Jess Barnett, who are both product managers at Trello. The goal of this webinar is to show how agile and scrum techniques can be applied to a workflow in Trello and focussing on the sprint board. Full disclosure, I am not a Scrum Master, but I do think that anyone that is familiar with agile & scrum or looking to get their feet wet, will get a lot of useful information from this webinar.

After the presentation I will be glad to answer any questions you have about how these ideas can be applied to your team. If you have any questions please type them into the GoToWebinar question box and I will be addressing as many as possible during the time allotted, with help from Michael, Nikita & Jess. You can also email any questions to support@trello.com and our support team will be glad to answer any questions that you have. Finally, I want to let you know that I will be recording today’s webinar and will email a copy of the recording to all attendees and registrants, and will be following up with links to the board that you can copy as well as additional helpful resources.

First, let’s quickly go over what agile is, and why I think Trello is a great tool for agile and Scrum development sprints. Agilemethodology.org defines agile stating that “Agile approaches help teams respond to unpredictability through incremental, iterative work cadences and empirical feedback.”

This is achieved through repeated sprints, which are defined periods of time, usually 1-2 weeks but could be up to 4, where set tasks (also called “user stories”) are defined and accomplished to constantly be driving more business value. This means that a constantly refined and improved product is being delivered to the customer.

Or as AgileAlliance.org puts it, “These methodologies emphasize close collaboration between the development team and business stakeholders; frequent delivery of business value, tight, self-organizing teams; and smart ways to craft, confirm, and deliver code.”

Scrum is perhaps the most popular agile methodology and ScrumAlliance.org defines scrum as “Scrum is a team-based approach to delivering value to the business. Team members work together to achieve a shared business goal. The Scrum framework promotes effective interaction between team members so the team delivers value to the business.”

So why then Trello for Scrum and Agile workflows?

Simplicity: Scrum is meant to be a simple and defined process to facilitate work getting done.

Perspective: At a glance Product Owners, Team Members, and Scrum Masters can see who is doing what and what still needs to get done.

Collaborative: Everyone involved in the sprint can communicate and collaborate in real time no matter where they are located.

Flexibility: Trello can easily adapt to whatever workflow works best for your team to get the most done, letting you define the process for your team’s unique structure and needs.

Customizable: Trello can integrate the apps that your team relies on most, saving time and energy since everyone knows where to access files, documents, code and resources in one centralized location.

So let’s dig into the Trello Sprint board, and see how your team can get agile today.

On this sprint board, we’ve kept it as simple as possible with only 4 lists: Backlog, Sprint Backlog, In Progress, and 9.9.16 Sprint which is the “Done” list .

Backlog: The backlog contains all of the tasks that need to be accomplished and implemented. Items can remain in the backlog until they are prioritized by a stakeholder or product owner, or until the task, or user story as they are often referred to in agile development, is developed enough to become an actionable item.

Sprint Backlog: The tasks that are ready to be completed during the next sprint are moved from the Backlog list to the Sprint Backlog. Cards can be prioritized by the product owner by dragging the most important cards to the top of the list.

In Progress: When a developer, or member of the team, starts a task they drag the card to this list and assign themselves to the card by adding themselves to the card. If there is a separate test team, the team member tasked with QA can be added to the card which will send them a notification that they have been added. If they find a bug they can @mention the dev in a comment to pass the task back to them and remove themselves from the card. When the card is ready for QA again, the tester can be added back to the card. Or the QA tester can remain on the card, and the developer can simply @ mention the tester in a comment when the card is ready for QA again. Tasks that are blocked can have a label applied so that the product manager can quickly see which tasks are blocked.

9.9.16 Sprint: Tasks that are completed are moved to the list for the week of the current sprint. Having a separate list for each sprint helps product owners and stakeholders easily see what has been accomplished during each sprint. For each sprint create a new list where completed cards for that sprint would be moved to.

You can setup lists however you want. You could include additional lists like Resources, for documentation, links, or commonly repeated tasks that you have template cards for, Blocked, for tasks that are being held up for one reason or another such as external factor like a required asset, QA, for any quality assurance testing that needs to be completed before a task can be considered done, and “Done” list if you are not using the same board for each sprint. If your team has weekly recaps of that week’s sprint you can create a list for them as well. Really, you should setup your board for whatever works best for the team but I recommend starting off simple so that everyone on your team has a grasp on how the board works and it keeps the workflow visually clear and then build from there if need be.)

Cards: Cards represent tasks to be accomplished by a member of the team. They can be considered user stories, and outline the task required to build a new feature.

Card title: Card titles should be short and concise, allowing anyone on the team to see in a glance what the task is.

Description: Descriptions allow the product owner or stakeholder to add more information to a card, specifying the details of what is to be developed or designed, and define the goals or outline the steps to do so. Trello supports Markdown formatting which can make card descriptions easier to read.

Members: Members should be added to cards when they are assigned that task. Depending on the structure of the team and the task, multiple members can be added to a card.

Labels: Labels provide additional visual information, and can be filtered. For agile workflows, cards can be labeled when blocked or when bugs are discovered in the QA process. Labels can also be used to signify if a task is urgent, or to categorize types of tasks/where that task fits into the product.

Checklists: For tasks that require multiple parts, checklists can be created so that each subtask can be listed and checked off as it’s completed. The status bar indicates what percent of the checklist items have been completed. If a checklist item becomes bigger than expected, that checklist item can be converted into a separate Trello card. Also, while Trello does not support nested cards, other cards related to the main card (child cards) can easily be referenced on the parent card by copying and pasting the URL to the child card into a checklist item. Clicking the link will bring up the child card.

Due Date: While tasks can be prioritized by dragging them to the top of a list, due dates can also be used to help establish what cards need to be completed before others. When a due date is added to a card, any member of the card will receive a notification, as well as a notification 24 hours before that card is due.

Attachments: Often times screenshots in bug reports, design mockups, or documents need to be referenced during the development process. Product owners and devs can easily attach files to cards directly from their computer, or from popular cloud storage services like Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, and OneDrive. Attaching files from cloud storage services means that the files will retain the permission settings set in the cloud storage service for additional security.

Subscribe: Stakeholders can stay updated as specific cards progress from the Backlog to the Done list by subscribing to cards. By subscribing to a card instead of adding themself to a card, it keeps clear who is assigned to the task.

Sprint Board Best Practices: While we encourage teams to find the workflows that work best for them, here are a couple of tips that might help for smoother sprints.

Have a dedicated product owner that is in charge of leading each weekly sprint. They should be in charge of establishing the scope of each sprint, and which cards should be moved from the Backlog to the Sprint Backlog. This person should be the admin of the Trello board that sets up each sprint.

At the end of each Sprint there should be something that is shippable.

Invite any stakeholders to observe a sprint so that they can see what progress has been made. With Trello Business Class, stakeholders can be added to boards as observers, and given only permissions to comment and vote on cards, preventing them from interrupting the sprint in any way.

Setup a basic point system in Trello by adding points to cards in parenthesis to the card’s name. Points are estimates measure the degree of difficulty for a task and are often based on the Fibonacci Sequence, which is 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, and can be a quick way to make sure your team is not overloaded with work during a sprint. The reason for a nonlinear numbering system like the Fibonacci Sequence is because true estimates are difficult to make, and the bigger the task the more uncertainty revolves around it, this system recognizes that difficulty without producing a false level of confidence for the specific level of difficulty. I will share two useful items that can help this process in a few moments.

As I just mentioned, product owners should balance the workload of a sprint based on the amount of points for each card. This will become easier once a team has a few sprints under their belt and a better sense of the number of points typically completed in a sprint.

During a scrum or a sprint, cards should be moving all of the time as tasks move from the Sprint Backlog to In Progress to Done. Daily standups are essential to this process where each member of the team says what they did yesterday, what they are doing today, and if there are any tasks that are blocked that need to be addressed.

Every sprint should have a review. Create a card on each week’s sprint list with “what we got done, do we need to adjust anything, and do we need to update backlog.”

Power-Ups & Integrations: There are many ways that Trello boards can be customized to improve your team’s sprints and workflow with Power-Ups, Browser Extensions, and 3rd Party Integrations. Power-Ups add extra functionality to Trello boards by enabling additional features, as well as integrations with other apps & services like GitHub, Slack, Google Drive, and more, that are adaptable to your team’s unique business needs. Every Trello team can enable 1 Power-Up per team board, and Business Class & Enterprise teams get unlimited Power-Ups on their team boards. There are also a number of browser extensions and 3rd party integrations that can help agile and scrum teams. Let me cover a few:

Voting: Voting allows stakeholders to upvote features that interest them the most and help prioritize future sprints. Voting can take place in the Sprint Board’s backlog, on the Product Planning/Roadmap board (which I will go over soon) or both.

Calendar: If you are applying due dates to cards, the Calendar Power-Up allows you to see those cards in a calendar view, providing a clear perspective for which cards are due when over the course of the sprint. Each board’s calendar also has an iCal feed, allowing you to import the feed into any 3rd party calendar.

Card Aging: By enabling card aging on your board, cards that have not had any activity will fade over time. This can be useful in surfacing cards in the Backlog that might be falling by the wayside, and could require reprioritization.

Custom Fields: Custom Fields allows you to formalize a process for your Trello cards by allowing you to set input fields such as text, numerical values (like account numbers or product orders), additional dates, drop down lists, and checkboxes. This information can also be displayed on the front of a card as a card badge, allowing any team member to get the information they need in a glance without having to open the card.

On this board I’ve created a dropdown list for story points, which I mentioned earlier. I set them up in a dropdown list, so that they can easily be selected, and set the points to display on the front of the card so that everyone can see the anticipated difficulty of every task in a glance.

Card Repeater: Card Repeater, which is currently rolling out of beta and onto everyone’s team boards as we speak, you may need to refresh to see the update, does exactly what it says, it create a copy of a Trello card at a defined interval. This Power-Up is super simple to setup, simply set the repetition cycle for the card, and Card Repeater will automatically take care of the rest. Any information including card members, checklists, descriptions, and attachments will be copied to the repeated card. You can also select what list the card is repeated on, and whether it is copied to the top or the bottom of the list.

This is really useful for weekly team meetings, or any task that occurs at a regular interval.

GitHub & GitHub Enterprise: With the Github Power-Up, product managers can in a single glance look at a Trello board and see what commits have passed their Github checks and which code has been merged. Developers can easily access the code they need and coordinate with the rest of the team, by attaching branches, commits, issues, and pull requests directly to Trello cards.

Slack: These days it feels like we are going through a revolution in team communication, as more teams go remote and the office landscape changes. With the Slack power-up it is possible to seamlessly bring your Trello cards directly into Slack for team brainstorming sessions or for quick feedback. Cards can be sent either to a Slack channel or by direct message to someone on your team. Associate your sprint board with a the corresponding Slack channel and jump right into the conversation from your Trello board in a single click. The Power-Up can also be useful to set a Reminder for a card, say something that you want to discuss at the next standup and have Slack remind you before the next team meeting.

Google Drive, Dropbox, Box: The Google Drive, Dropbox & Box Power-Ups let you attach important files to Trello cards, and provide additional data like when the file was created and last edited and by whom. The Google Drive Power-Up let’s you attach folders, docs, sheets & more, so you can have all of the assets you need in one easy to find location, so no one has to waste time digging around the cloud.

FogBugz, HelpScout, Zendesk, Intercom: For managing case, ticket, and feature requests, we have Power-Ups for popular services like FogBugz, HelpScout, Zendesk and Intercom. To save time I am just going to demo the Zendesk Power-Up, but take note that each of these Power-Ups works in a very similar fashion.

The Zendesk power-up allows you to attach tickets and views directly to a Trello card, great for keeping track of bugs and feature requests. Tickets attached to cards display the name of the ticket, a preview of the body of the ticket, who the ticket is assigned to, and when the ticket was last updated. Attach Zendesk views to cards to get a higher level perspective on the number of tickets open in your group, how many open tickets you have, and more, which can provide valuable insight to stakeholders and product owners. Also, card fronts will have a badge displaying the number of tickets attached to each card. This can be helpful if you want to at a glance see which user stories to prioritize for the next sprint.

Screenful, Corrello, Elegantt & Burndown For Trello: Burndown charts, cumulative flow diagrams, and Gantt charts are essential ways to visualize your team’s progress during a sprint. Each of these Power-Ups creates visual dashboards displaying key insights from the progress on your sprint board, and are accessible from your Trello board. To save time, I am going to just share the Screenful Power-Up dashboard and show you how you can set it up for a sprint , but all of these Power-Ups work in a similar fashion, if you are already using one of these apps.

Google Hangouts, join.me, Appear.in: As mentioned earlier, daily standups are an essential part of a sprint, but as more and more teams go remote it is becoming more important to have the tools available to still hold effective daily standups. Whether your team uses Google Hangouts, join.me, or Appear.in, these Power-Ups allow you to set a dedicated place for your team to go to for daily standups and retrospectives directly from your Trello board in a single click.

To learn more about Power-Ups check out www.trello.com/power-ups

And if your team wants to bring unlimited Power-Ups to your team boards, you can upgrade at www.trello.com/business-class

There are also some really cool Third Party browser extensions and integrations that you might like for your team’s sprints, that I encourage you to try out during your own time.

Scrum For Trello: A Chrome browser extension that let’s you add story points to cards. Points can be added to cards between parenthesis and Scrum For Trello automatically displays this number on the Trello card, and it calculates the total number of points in each list and add that to the top of the list. Scrum For Trello always updates in real time, even when moving cards across lists.

Kanban WIP For Trello: Another Chrome browser extension that helps set a work-in-progress limit for lists. Add a limit in brackets to your list name, and when the amount of cards in a list meets that number the list will turn yellow. Go over the limit and the list will turn red.

So, that wraps up my presentation on the agile sprint board. I want to remind everyone that while the context of these cards has been more developer focused, any team can consider applying these concepts to their workflow. For instance, marketing teams could apply these methodologies for content creation, or for client based work.

I am going to get the Q&A session going in the moment, but I want to let everyone know that I will be hosting a follow-up webinar in this series covering Roadmapping and Retrospectives on Thursday October 20 at 2pm Eastern. Sign up now https://trello.com/webinars

For the Q&A I will be focussing on questions about the features demonstrated, and will try and address additional Trello questions if there is time. Please enter any questions you have in the GoToWebinar box and I will make sure to address as many as possible in the time remaining. If you have to leave the webinar now and have questions or if you would rather ask your questions in private, or have any feedback on how I can improve this webinar, feel free to email us at support@trello.com. And once again, you should receive a copy of the recording of this webinar in the next few days, and please feel free to share it with the rest of your team.

Thanks again everyone for taking the time to join me today!