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Blog

Online Scrum Board vs. Whiteboard

09 Oct 2017

In the midst of the proliferation of Scrum tools, there is a lively debate on how to choose the right one. Should your team use an online Scrum board or stick to the cards on a Whiteboard? 

Each side has strong arguments. In this post, we are going to put them to test and solve the dilemma once and for all.

Online Scrum Board vs. Whiteboard, which one is the best choice for you? 



CONTENTS

Advantages of an Online Scrum Board

Advantages of a Whiteboard

Comparing the Characteristics



Advantages of an Online Scrum Board  

An Online Scrum Board is a great option for experienced Scrum teams who want to take their Agile practices to the next level.

  • One crucial advantage that the online Scrum board has over the traditional whiteboard is that it can handle distributed teams. A Whiteboard demands the team to be collocated, and an Online Scrum Board does not. 
  • An Online Scrum Board allows users to access the board wherever they are - updating it whenever they get the inspiration or come up with a great idea.
  • On an Online Scrum Board you see the whole board history. It is easier to manage, AND it offers advanced analytics (automatic updates of burndown and other charts).
  • An Online Scrum Board holds future tasks in one place so you can have a bigger picture when planning future sprints. Also, you can plan all future sprints in one place, and keep track of how many tasks and sprints you have left until the end of the project.

MAKE YOUR OWN ONLINE SCRUM BOARD

Online Scrum Board on laptop

 

Advantages of a Whiteboard 

As most Scrum experts agree, if a team is new to Scrum, a physical Scrum board is a good place to start, for a number of reasons.

For one, whiteboards are cheap and easy to configure.

A whiteboard also provides a meeting point for the team as they all get together for the Daily Scrum and check the progress of the iteration. It also invites communication as people notice certain things on it and consult their fellow team members.

 A whiteboard with weekly assignments and sticky notes

 

Comparing the Characteristics

Let’s compare a Whiteboard and an Online Scrum Board in a simple table:

Category

Whiteboard

Online Scrum Board

Planning process

Tangible and exciting

Simple, but less exciting and visible

Plan visibility

Limited for long-term plans

Good for long-term planning

Board update

Only possible at the whiteboard

Several clicks, on the go

Velocity tracking, Time tracking

Manual, requires input from each team member

Automatic

Burndown chart and other charts updates

Manual

Automatic

Communication

Great

Exists

Reporting

Poor reports, since all data is offline

Plenty of reporting capabilities

People involvement

Everyone involved

May become a problem

Cost

Cheap

May get quite expensive

Suits distributed teams

Unsuitable

Suits great

 

So both options have their pros and cons and you can choose the right one for your team based on your specific needs. 

Whiteboard is better if:

  • You’re trying Extreme Programming
  • You’re trying Scrum for the first time
  • Team is collocated
  • You tried a whiteboard and you feel comfortable with it


You would probably prefer an Online Scrum Board if:

  • You have a distributed team
  • You have a large team (10+)
  • You tried a whiteboard and it didn’t work for your project
  • You prefer having advanced reports and statistics

GET A FREE SCRUM BOARD!

Every project and every team is different and there is no right formula for choosing a Scrum tool. It’s up to the Scrum Team to first identify its needs and then based on that choose the tool that qualifies as the best fit.

 

Author: Goran Prijić is the co-creator and Product Owner at VivifyScrum. He is also a Certified Scrum Master.