Physical Scrum and Kanban Board or Digital Board? Which one to choose?

You may be asking this question if you are in the process of starting your new Agile Board with your team or individually, and you will ask yourself whether you should start your Agile Board as physical board or use a dijital tool. So, should you build your Kanban Board & Scrum Board & Lean Board on a physical board or an a digital platform? 

Well, the short answer is it depends! Before analyzing this topic a bit further, let’s talk about pros and cons between those options so you have the foundations covered between these two options;

Pyhsical Agile Board

Digital Agile Board

Ease of Use

It is easy!

Some people may find it difficult to use a software tool, especially less technical people

Engagement

Pyhsical products offer the highest engagement among the team members. Engagement even from key stakeholders beyond the team members such as management, executives, colleagues from different teams who may not directly involved in your specific Agile Board 

There will be limitations to engage people on a digital screen compared to a physical board hanging somewhere in the building

Scalability

You will be limited with the surface of physical board. There are ways to scale up your physical board, but nevertheless it will never be as scalable as what a digital world can offer

You will have unlimited scalability opportunity on digital platforms

Flexibility in use & Customize

You will have no limitations around customizing your board! You can move your cards anywhere as you want, make any smybols on them, customize as you want without limitations

You will have limitations to customize your board to the extend what that particular software can offer. Moreover, no software will give you the flexibility of what you could do with your fingers on a board! 

Collaboration

Working remotely can mean less collaboration with co-workers on projects and fewer opportunities for personal relationship building, this is a known fact. The same thing will apply to working on an Agile Board in the same room

As explained in the previous cell, working remotely on a digital tool will not create the most collaborative environment relative to being in the same room

Data back up

You will miss the opportunity to back up your data and use as historical data for your future projects unless someone manually digitize the data, but that would also mean duplication of work

You can easily back up your data and access in the future as needed

Data crunching 

As your data on a physical board, and not digitally available, you will have limitations to use the data you have for further analysis in the event this is required

You can crunch the data, generate reports and define metrics out of the data that is already available digitally

Visibility

This is probably one of the most important factors and overlaps with some of the other pros& cons items in terms of its impact as listed in this article. Basically having a physical board will bring great visibility to team members and stakeholders. Think about an Agile Board in a common area that people see everyday

Obviously Digital Agile Boards will not be as much visible as a physical board can be. It will require people to open that specific software, even when you do that, it will not stay on the screen long time along with all other windows you need on your computer. Obviously this will require initiative compared to having a physical board somewhere you can unintentially see it everytime you walk by 

This comparision matrix can be extended further for sure with additional evaluation points, however it should hopefully give you the main trade-offs between physical and digital Agile Management boards. Obvisouly, these principles are applicable whether you are considering to start your Scrum Board, Kanban Board, Lean Board or any type of Agile Management Board. Apparently, remote working significantly increased after the Covid 19 hit us globallly and it has changed the way we do business in many different aspects. Agile management is not different. That said, digital Agile Boards became the only viable option for many teams, even though it might not be their first preference, due to the fact that being in the same room is not anymore the case. So, if you are working with your team on an Agile Board and everybody is remote, there is not too much to think what option is better for you, the answer is obvious. 

 

However, there is one interesting development on the other side of the coin with the start of Covid 19 driven remote working. It is the fact fact that more and more individuals require individual Agile Boards in order to get their professional work and even private life. There is no doubt that Covid 19 impacted bilions of people’s life significantly, and changed lives. Without going into deep philosophical debates about negative or positive changes, any change brings anxity into human life. The stress level around the globe made a peak since long time in human history with the Covid19 era! With all that said, more and more people needed a bit more disipline in their life to minimize the stress level, and get the things done. This is where Agile Management principles bring the most value. Hence, we see significant increase in indiviaul Kanban Boards initiatives across the world, either they work from home or from office. This is not hard to guess, people like Physical Kanban Boards in their individual use cases for all given reasons. Imagine a Kanban Board in your office, or in the kitchen, any part of your home or office, you will get the benefit of seeing the board several times in a day without attempting to do so, and it will be an automatic reminder for you to focus on your ‘to do list’ and get the things done in a logical manner. As we say in our marketing slogan, make it visible, make it real. There is no doubt that digitalization has been bringing significant improvement’s in everyone’s lives, and will continue to do so. However, there are great benefits of keeping certain things physical and it will remain so no matter what ceuntry we are in. Please keep in mind, it is not a competition as digital versus physical products, but more understanding pros and cons among these options and leveraging advantages of both options in your professional and private life! 

 

 

In summary, there is not really right or wrong way of doing your Agile Board either it is a physical board or a digital board, and in some cases both. You need to evaluate your requirements, assess your own conditions and make a decision accordingly. Whatever that choice will be, it will be your right choice! Stay agile and spread the word for more agile transformation.  

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Author: Yan Ozturk