We’ve been using a new tool (new to us at least) for managing our Sprints: KanbanTool. In using it, we’ve found several features very useful, and it has also changed how we do our standups. Just to give you some background, in previous Sprints, I’ve used either whiteboards and large colored index cards or Trello.
If you look at the image above, you can see horizontal categories: brand and awareness, lead generation, lead nurturing. These horizontal categories are called “Swim Lanes”. We use these to divide up the tasks in the Marketing and Sprint backlog. First, this just makes it visually easier to organize. But it also helps with the transition to Agile, because many times these categories relate to traditional marketing functions that people are familiar with. You can name these Swim Lanes anything you want, and you can have as many as you want.
By default, you receive notifications by email whenever someone makes a comment on a task or moves it to a different column (indicating that it’s ready for approval or it’s done, for example). You can turn off subscribing to these notifications if you’d like, but I find them very useful. You can reply to them in email, and the reply gets recorded as a comment on the task. This makes it very easy to keep up with the activity of the Sprint.
KanbanTool has changed how we do standups. No one needs to answer the typical first two questions of what did I do yesterday and what am I going to do today. We get real-time notifications of what everyone is doing through the subscriptions and notifications. We spend all our time in standup on identifying the blocking issues. That’s very powerful. If it can be resolved quickly, we resolve the blocking issue right then and there. If not, then usually a couple people will stay on the call (or in the room) after everyone else leaves, and solve the blocking issue. This has made our standups more efficient and effective.
Has anyone else used this tool? What’s your experience with other tools? How has the use of tools affected how you do Agile Marketing?