A scrum board is an agile tool that is used to track the work a sprint team is expected to complete in any given project. Often, a scrum board is a Kanban board style board where a product owner is able to define all of the various tasks it takes to complete any given project and then track the tasks during a sprint.
Where does the term scrum board come from?
As mentioned, scrum boards are tools used within the agile methodology. Agile is a process of building where you allow for flexibility in what, how and when your item is built. What this means, is that traditionally, when items were built, well defined and more rigid process was applied to the lifecycle of development. Agile however takes a different approach. Within Agile, the scope of work is defined and prioritized but done in small increments and delivered on a normal basis. This allows for constant delivery. This approach removed the problems of a traditional waterfall process where you spend a long time to deliver something that may or may not be what was needed.
To really deliver in an agile world, most teams use a scrum board to track their tasks. A scrum board gives a scrum team a place to see all of the work they plan to complete and track it as they start to work on a task and complete it. If you have a large project, you will break the project into specific tasks and then group tasks into sprints. Your scrum boards allow you to track each sprint which allows you to pivot or make changes much easier within the scope of a project.
What do scrum boards look like?
Scrum boards are what you will see in movies and startups where they show a wall filled with stickies. The wall is usually organized into three columns to indicate what work has not started, what is in progress and what is complete. As teams finish the tasks, they move the sticky across the board from left to right to indicate completion. You can often hear the term Kanban board and scrum board used interchangeably.
Unless a project plan, these boards are typically very simple and designed to help focus on the tasks management side of delivery. A product owner typically leads a review on a daily basis of the board to see what is being worked on and track the progress. Each day, teams move their stories or tasks across and pick up new ones to complete the sprint.
Teams will also complete what is called a grooming session within agile. In this process, the team will pick up new tasks for an upcoming sprint to add to their board. This grooming is a review of a product backlog of task requests and deciding which ones should be worked on next. This process repeats itself until all tasks needed are complete and delivered.
Above all, keep in mind that scrum boards are tools to help facilitate building. They are popular in agile but can be used for personal task management as well as any team delivery to track work from start to completion.