What is a Scrum Board? Definition and Examples

Updated Aug 3, 2022.
scrum-board

Scrum is a popular agile project management framework used by many software and development teams to track their projects. Many project teams across various industries are now using Scrum to manage their work. 

Like other agile methods, Scrum emphasizes an iterative work schedule, team collaboration, and open communication between team members and key stakeholders.

Scrum boards are an essential aspect of Scrum methodology. These boards visually represent the work you are doing and make it easy for you to organize, track, and update your work progress.

In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about the Scrum board including how to use it and the differences between online Scrum boards and physical Scrum boards.

Let’s get started.

What is a Scrum Board?

A Scrum board is the visualization tool of the Scrum methodology that gives you a visual representation of your Scrum-based workflows. Scrum boards present you with visibility into your agile sprints. They help your team organize tasks, assign tasks, and track Scrum processes as they progress towards set goals.

Also known as a Scrum task board, a Scrum board either comes as a physical or online board. Both Scrum boards serve the same Scrum functions: visualizing your sprints and facilitating workflow management. 

Scrum boards contain general columns just like Kanban boards. These include the “To Do”, “WIP”, and “Done” swimlanes, as well as more specific sub-lanes for defined work processes. Tasks flow from the left column to the right column, just like in Kanban boards.

A Scrum board helps teams maintain the highly structured Scrum framework while being constantly updated and referred to during daily Scrums, sprint reviews, retrospectives, and workflow optimizations.  

Assigning of Task - Team a Scrum Board
Source: Venngage

Why Use a Scrum Board

Implementing the Scrum methodology for your project management means having a strict framework. How does your team easily stay in line with this strict framework? The Scrum board offers you a solution to this. 

1. Enhanced Project or Work Visibility

Through visibility into your sprints, you easily monitor workflows and keep them aligned with sprint goals. You immediately know the status of each work item as well as the whole sprint, and easily understand where problems lie, if any. 

Additionally, with Scrum boards, you do not just maintain visibility into your sprints but also make appropriate updates, changes, and improvements to your entire Scrum structure and workflows.

2. Team Collaboration

Scrum boards, especially the online ones, also serve as communication platforms for your team members. Through commenting options and chat hubs, you easily facilitate discussions between team members on rising issues. The more advanced Scrum software even lets you share files and documents within your Scrum board. 

3. Transparency

Every team member has visibility into other team members’ workflows, meaning you also maintain a form of check and balance system. You keep a transparent system, promote accountability, easily keep everyone in line with their assignments and goals, Scrum boards ensure you accomplish sprint goals on time without drawbacks.

Overall, the Scrum board is an important tool for your sprint tracking, collaboration, and overall agile project management. 

Online Scrum Boards vs Physical Scrum Boards

Scrum boards come in two different forms: physical and digital boards. 

Physical Scrum Boards

Physical boards are whiteboards or blackboards located at a physical location where your team is situated. They are used to present your sprints and project management workflows. These were the original Scrum boards before the online boards were developed. 

Physical Scrum boards require more attention and intentional efforts from your team members to be accurate and productive enough for effective sprint management. Your daily Scrums, review, and sprint retrospective meeting sessions are great elements of the Scrum framework dedicated to this.

During daily scrums, every team member is prompted to make updates on the board. With sprint review and retrospectives, you identify lapses in board administration and discuss improvements.

Physical Scrum boards involve a lot of manual procedures to remain effective. This may not be ideal or actionable for certain Scrum teams.

Physical Scrum Boards
Source: Caktus Group

Online Scrum Boards

Online Scrum boards are software-based visualizations that make your sprint tracking and management workflows more intuitive and easier. 

You typically have access to more flexible workspace and workflow customization options, live updates, and extended collaboration options within the Scrum workspace. 

One major benefit of online Scrum boards is their usefulness for remote teams who embrace the idea of technological solutions to work management. They are also useful for project management communication and collaborations with external stakeholders.

Online Scrum Boards
Source: Method Grid

Differences

There are several differences between online Scrum boards and physical Scrum boards.

1. Set Up

Physical Scrum boards are easier to set up than online Scrum boards. You only need a display item, such as a whiteboard or blackboard on which adjustments may be easily made. It is an inexpensive solution for Scrum teams to visualize sprints. 

Online boards, on the other hand, need more infrastructure to run. Not only are they typically paid services, but they also require every team member to have supported devices to run them. 

2. Team Location

While physical Scrum boards are only actionable to physical teams maintaining close proximity with each other, online Scrum boards are usable by both local and remote Scrum teams. They remain actionable as long as the required infrastructure is in place.

3. Automation

Automation is entirely absent with physical Scrum boards. Online Scrum boards are automatically updated as your team members make entries into them. You also set certain custom rules and triggers to automate other workflows, like your work item movements.

4. History Tracking

With physical boards, you do not have access to previous sprints. You only get this if extra documentation has been made for them. Online Scrum boards provide you access to your previous sprints. It boosts reporting and analytic capabilities. 

Online Scrum boards possess more advantages to Scrum teams than physical boards. However, physical boards remain great tools for newly-formed and local Scrum teams who cherish face-to-face interactions. 

How to Use a Scrum Board

To know how to use a Scrum board, there are certain terminologies and elements of the board you must know.

The User Story

This is the main feature(s) of a product developed using the Scrum project management methodology. A user story defines the users or consumers of the product, what these individuals want, and the reasons why they demand the features to be developed. Each story is also given a story point, a measure for rating how difficult the features are to develop.

Sprint

A Sprint is a development cycle for your team to work on each feature. These development cycles are fixed and usually span 1 – 4 weeks, depending on how complex the workflows are to accomplish. Sprints are typically not extendable, given the strict nature of the Scrum framework.

Product Backlog

A product backlog is a list created during the product planning stage that contains details of items to be worked on over the whole project. These listed items include user stories, bug fixes, and identified improvements in case the product is in redevelopment.

Sprint Backlog

The sprint backlog is somewhat of a product backlog but, rather than covering the whole project, it contains a list of work items for the specific sprint to be worked on. This is created during the sprint planning stage and goes through a refinement process reflecting changes to the project. 

Sprint Team

In Scrum, your team members have specified roles, unlike in the Kanban methodology. Your Scrum team is made up of a product owner that provides customer feedback and dictates or establishes when there is a success; a Scrum master showing a deep understanding of the project, Scrum process, and leading the team; and a group of cross-functional development team members from different departments within your company.   

Sprint Retrospective

The sprint retrospective is a meeting held after the completion of a sprint. Here, the whole sprint is analyzed, bottlenecks and other bad occurrences are identified, and an optimization and improvement plan is developed for future sprints.

Components of A Scrum Board

Your Scrum board is usually made up of columns named “User Stories”, “To-Do”, “In-Progress,” and “Done.” 

  • The user story column contains the different features your team works on, usually arranged in order of priority. 
  • The “To-Do” column contains tasks on which work has not been started. 
  • The “In-Progress” column contains work items currently being worked on.
  • The “Done” column contains work items and tasks that have been completed. 

Unlike in Kanban boards, cards in the “In-Progress” column in Scrum boards are not controlled by a WIP limit. The only limit to them is determined by the number of tasks agreed to be worked on during the Sprint planning stage. Nothing stops all tasks from being put in the “In-Progress” column. 

Tasks that make it to the “To-Do” column are determined by the user feature you intend to work on and the sprint backlogs developed from them. Represent these tasks with cards within the board and move through from the “To-Do” column to the “Done” column as work on them progresses.

These columns may also be supported with sub-columns giving additional specific details on the stage your work items or tasks are in. You may have a “Prioritized” sub-column within your “To-Do” column, an “on-hold” sub-column within your “In-Progress” column, or an “under review” sub-column within your “Done” column. The number of sub-columns you need depends on how complex your sprint is.

Use of Colors

On the Scrum board, cards represent your tasks. For easy task identification and management, you set different colors for your tasks. In addition to colors for tasks in general columns, you set different colors for tasks on hold, in review, or within other specified sub-columns. 

Scrum tools for agile project management allow you to move cards within columns through drag and drop actions, an intuitive feature that makes the whole management easier.

Daily Scrum

Daily Scrum meetings are held to discuss the different tasks within the Scrum board and how fast they move across columns. 

Daily Scrum Meeting
Source: Infinity

Where tasks stay in one column for an unusual duration, the Scrum team knows there is a problem or roadblock there. Solutions are created during the daily Scrums and implemented into the Scrum framework. 

Online Scrum boards provide you with additional reporting features, meaning daily scrums do not take as much time in identifying problems and solutions as when physical boards are used. 

After completing the whole sprint, hold Scrum retrospectives to analyze the sprint and optimize the Scrum structure and workflows for subsequent sprints. 

Scrum - Sprint review and Sprint retrospective
Source: Wrike

Scrum Board Examples

1. General Scrum Boards

Generally, Scrum boards take up this form. Additional elements and components within it are determined by the complexity of your sprints and tasks. 

General Scrum Boards
Source: Smartsheet

2. Physical Scrum Boards

Physical Scrum Boards_
Source: Smartsheet

Here, a whiteboard is used for the display item for the Scrum board. The work items are differentiated and identified using different marker colors: a red marker for tasks towards fixing bugs, a green marker for tasks towards improving an existing feature, and a blue marker for tasks towards creating a new feature.

3. Scrum Board with a Separate Column for All Stories

This example of Scrum board is the most popular and comprises five columns: “Backlog or Stories,” “To Do,” “In Progress,” “Review,” and “Done.” It is ideal for small teams.

Scrum Board with a Separate Column for All Stories
Source: Zepel

4. Scrum Board PowerPoint Template

Scrum Board PowerPoint Template
Source: Techno-PM

Save Time and Effort with Scrum Board Software

If you want to get the best out of the Scrum project management framework, you need to use the best project management software. Managing your projects with physical Scrum boards can be difficult. You can save time and effort with online Scrum board software such as Monday.com, ClickUp, Wrike, Jira, and Smartsheet. 

These Scrum board software tools offer agile project management features such as project planning, task management, and resource management. They improve team collaboration and communication.

When you use Scrum board software to create and manage your Scrum boards, you enjoy the benefits of using the agile methodology such as superior product quality, higher customer satisfaction, improved project predictability, improved flexibility, continuous improvement, improved team morale, and higher ROI.

Scrum board software tools provide reports on project key metrics and real-time visibility into the project to keep your team connected.

Anastasia Belyh

Editor at FounderJar

Anastasia has been a professional blogger and researcher since 2014. She loves to perform in-depth software reviews to help software buyers make informed decisions when choosing project management software, CRM tools, website builders, and everything around growing a startup business.

Anastasia worked in management consulting and tech startups, so she has lots of experience in helping professionals choosing the right business software.