Task boards: what they are and how to master them
Blog: Monday Project Management Blog
One of the biggest mistakes people make in project management is assuming that it all comes down to hard work.
Hard work is great, but if that work isn’t harnessed, prioritized, and organized with a specific goal in mind, all that effort can go to waste.
This is why you should be using task boards to quickly get a complicated, multifaceted project on track. And if you use it correctly, your hard work will result in a job well done.
Here’s everything you’ll need to know about task boards.
What is a task board?
A task board is defined as any visual aid (or “board”), digital, physical board or not, designed to keep tabs on a project.
Now for the who, where, and why:
- Any team or project manager should get used to using a task board! They come in all shapes and sizes, so they’re suitable for pretty much everyone and every project.
- Statistics suggest that keeping a written track of goals makes you as much as 20-40% more likely to achieve them. It’s even more important when you need to keep tabs on an entire group.
But it’s how well you manage a task board that will determine your success.
What is an Agile task board?
Agile refers to project management that divides big tasks into smaller, bite-sized increments. It’s “agile” because team members can pop in and out, fitting in one puzzle piece at a time. Agile planning defines which items are done in each sprint, and creates a repeatable process, to help teams learn how much they can achieve.
You can easily incorporate agile strategies into your project management systems. In fact, we’re here to help you for every step of the way!
Mastering the art of the Scrum board
Just as a radiator gives out heat, a scrum board is a source of information the entire project group can gather around.
- Assignments: items that are assigned, but not yet in-progress
- In-progress: tasks that group members are currently working on
- Reviewing: tasks that are finished or are waiting for a leader’s review
- Completed: assignments that the leader has approved
In addition, there are some essential elements that make a scrum board work well:
- Color-coding: this is the fastest way to glance at a task board and understand exactly where the project stands. Use colors to distinguish differences in task status.
- Task assignment: a task without an assignment is just an idea. Every person checking the task board should see their specific assignments.
- Timelines: give the project—and individual tasks—a due date.
How should you choose a task board app?
The three points above also serve as excellent criteria for choosing a robust task board application for your business.
We’ve previously written about what separates a good task board app from the rest, but here’s a basic checklist of some of our favorite features to keep in mind when choosing a task board app:
- Integrations—How easy is it to incorporate users via email? Integrations, like the ones that monday.com offer, connect with the tools you already use to have all your team’s work in one place.
- Visuals—Text is important and all, but visuals are a universal language. You especially want visual task statuses to be color-coded for quick glances.
- Organization—People don’t naturally think in hierarchies. Look for a “grid” layout that creates a simple list of steps, and so everyone is able to start using the task board app quickly and easily.
What are the best practices for running a digital task board online?
Use frequent check-ins. A task board that isn’t up-to-date isn’t very valuable. Make a habit of updating the task board every time you carry out an action, such as approving a team member’s task.
Prioritize. It’s difficult to get something done if a team member has three different things on their plate. Remember what Mark Twain said about difficult tasks: “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning.” Eating the frog in this context means taking on the most important, unpleasant task…and getting it out of the way through prioritization.
What should you look for in task board software?
Kanban software refers to programs that allow for real-time management of projects with full transparency for the team. Online Kanban boards are all the rage these days, so it’s not hard to find software that falls under this category.
What is hard is knowing which to choose. Here are some criteria that should help you make a selection:
- Easy team member integration. Another question to ask: can you easily add the email addresses of disparate members of your software development teams?
- Visualization. How well does the visualizing work in the software you’re thinking of using? Is there a natural flow from one stage of the project to the next?
- Visual management. You’re the project manager, after all. Is it easy for you to manage the task board visually without having to click all over the place? You want the ability to see everything in one place.
- Use a Scrum Task Board template. Refer to a Team (Scrum) Task Management Template to get started instantly and easily on an effective task board.
Start your planning today
Dwight D. Eisenhower, a U.S. President who knew a thing or two about project management, once said: “peace-time plans are of no particular value, but peace-time planning is indispensable.”
In other words, task boards aren’t about creating the perfect plan; they’re about perfecting the art of planning.
At monday.com, we understand this and know the importance of focusing on processes, not goals. This approach creates a visual basis so you can review an entire task board at a glance. Use grids rather than hierarchies to make your entire task board more intuitive for every team member.