Do you have a to-do list or maybe even a bullet journal? Well, then the chances are you are already working in an agile way! Creating a list, maybe listing those important tasks first and working your way through until you put a line through them.
When Paul Jordan (Corporate Applications & Database Manager) retired at the end of last year, the team needed a way to track the work that needed to be done in the coming months; a quick and easy to-do list but something geared towards a whole team approach.
To start with we followed a simple Kanban approach I’d used in the past. Drawing a simple table on our whiteboard we used three rows to represent the next three months, adding columns for to-do, in-progress and done. Next up we started writing on some super sticky post-it notes (yes, that really is a product 3M make!) for all the individual tasks that needed to be done. Instantly we could see when things needed to be done by, and when. This quickly enabled us to view team capacity and plan any new tasks accordingly as they came in.
For the past few months this has worked well, our Kanban was good enough, now we are going through another iteration of the process itself! 'To-do', 'in-progress' and 'done' columns are now renamed 'backlog', 'allocated' (or maybe started, we haven’t decided yet) and 'retrospective' to match the terms more commonly used. Rows are now called sprints representing two-week blocks instead of months to aid focus on tasks. Again viewing capacity is instant and we can break down those bigger pieces of work into smaller chunks to keep things on track and maximise our time.
We’ve also created an 'Icebox' (or way, way backlog if you like) where all upcoming work yet to be allocated goes. There is also a 'bugs', 'chores' and 'side hustles' box where our ideas and things that need to be fixed (but have current workarounds) live.
It’s not perfect and it’s a work in progress (we do need to reflect more on the ‘done’ pile, but also celebrate our successes too), but it acts as a focal point for the team where we can have stand-up meetings; discuss priorities and plan our upcoming work. For our customers, it goes towards setting expectations and timescales. Whilst we try not to move our tasks around, this approach does allow us to be flexible and re-align tasks should they need to be.
Perhaps one day we’ll move to a tool like Pivotal Tracker, Trello or even Planner which is part of the Office 365 suite currently rolling out, but sometimes keeping it simple really is all you need to do, it’s quick and easy.