See the Vodafone board solution

Finding a way to track changes

Users are key in the development of technical solutions. So having explored the challenges of existing scrum practises, we set out to find a technical solution together with one of our case companies, Mobilethink.

While preparing a workshop with the people from Mobilethink's development team, we stumbled across a similar initiative developed by the Vodafone Web Team in Copenhagen.

They had developed a solution where they used RFID tags to automatically update task changes in Jira. The solution was super cool so we persuaded Ole Højriis Kristensen, the inventor of the board to  participate in the workshop and share with us his experiences with the development of their tool.

One of the things that impressed us with the Vodafone project was how the development of the features had sprung directly form the everyday needs of the developer's and that the board had become a key in the ungoing development of their scrum processes. We liked the idea of a flexible solution could hook up to any scrum tool - be it Jira og Excel, and where it would be easy for the developes to add new features that supported the needs of each specific development team.

However, the Vodaphone solution was based on RFID tags and this meant that they had an ungoing task of coupling the RFID tags to the physical task notes. A process that was laborious for the scrum master.

We det out to find an alternative technical solution and ended up going for the QR tag.

Maintaining the scum tool is a burden!

Our case studies confirmed our prior experience that scrum tools often end up being a burden for the developer rather than a tool for support.

Developers repeatedly stated that they liked the traditional physical scrum board and that they saw maintenance of the scrum tool as an extra burden, that was pulling their attention away from their develoment tasks. Furthermore, we saw that the introduction of the computerized scum tool into meetings tended to remove the dynamics and collaborative spirit from the meetings and reduce them to mundane maintenance sessions.

We also saw how important the physical board was during their daily work activities. The board provided them with an ongoing overview of the project status. An overview they expressed they lacked without the physical board.

So the challenge for us was to find a way to bring the physcial board back into the scrum meetings and find ways of tracking changes on the board.

Defining the challenges

The first thing we did before even thinking of technological solutions was to make two case studies in two different organisations working with agile software development, Mobilethink and Danfoss.

In the Alexandra Institute we have a strong focus on User Driven Innovation and we used the case studies to define the challenges and explore the needs in the organisations.

The case studies were designed as ethnographic studies in a three different development teams. We did not just look at how they used their tools, but made a broad examination of their work and collaboration. We looked at their daily collaboration and studied scrum meetings and sprint planning and review. And by being present in the office environment and attending meetings we got an impression of the atmosphere and the cultural and managerial traits of the company

Understanding the challenges

We did this to get a deeper understanding of the challenges at play in the organisations and it helped us define what challenges to focus on in our work – so we would not end up with the classical failure of trying to make a technological fix to an organisational problem.

Helping organisations develop

An interesting by-product of our studies in the two organisations was that we found out that this kind of ethnographic study is also a strong tool for organisational development. In both organisations we presented our results to managers and employees in the company and facilitated a workshop where we talked about challenges. And while we used this as an input to the design of our solution, it also became an opportunity for the organisation to reflect on the way they worked and collaborated and spurred of new ideas and enthusiasm about how to improve their scrum process. So while we have been developing a new kind of scrum tool, we have also created a new way of helping organisations getting the most out of the adaptation of scrum in their organisation.

InfinIT er finansieret af en bevilling fra Styrelsen for Forskning og Innovation og drives af et konsortium bestående af:
Alexandra Instituttet . BrainsBusiness . CISS . Datalogisk Institut, Københavns Universitet . DELTA . DTU Compute, Danmarks Tekniske Universitet . Institut for Datalogi, Aarhus Universitet . IT-Universitetet . Knowledge Lab, Syddansk Universitet . Væksthus Hovedstadsregionen . Aalborg Universitet