5 Reasons Why Physical Boards Are Better Than Electronic Boards

Posted on July 4th, 2011 in Agile, Kanban, Tool, Tools For Agile by siddharta || 4 Comments

"Kanban" via chrishuffmanPeople often ask whether it is better to use a physical board or an electronic board. The answer of course is that it depends. What is the context of the team and the project? How many team members? Are you distributed? and so on.

In this post, I’ll talk about five reasons why physical boards are better than electronic boards. Tomorrow, I’ll do the opposite, with five reasons why electronic boards are better than physical boards. Finally I’ll do a post on how to choose between the two.

Are you ready? Here we go:

  1. Physical boards are always visible: You put it up on the wall and its always visible from anywhere. At any time, you can just lift your head and know the latest state of the board. Anybody walking by will peek in and get an idea of the board.
  2. Physical boards are tactile: There is something about picking up cards and moving them that is nice and makes team members feel more involved. I don’t know what it is, but it works.
  3. They encourage conversation: When someone is walking by and sees the board, they tend to ask questions about it and it builds a conversation.
  4. They are flexible: You can easily make the physical board in any form you want. Need extra columns? Need a completely custom board design? Want to decorate the card with stickers to denote different conditions? Want to annotate it with custom information? Want to write on the back of the card? You can do all of that.
  5. They are simple and intuitive: Everyone knows how to use a physical board. You don’t need one week of training to figure out how to put a card on the board :)

There you have it – 5 reasons to prefer a physical board.

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4 Responses to “5 Reasons Why Physical Boards Are Better Than Electronic Boards”

  1. saveug Says:

    Simple extensibility is true, but what do you say regarding electronic board is used with touch screen technology? It seems most of your points are there too.

  2. siddharta Says:

    In tomorrow’s post I’ll talk about 5 reasons why electronic boards are better. And the day after I’ll do a post on various options, one of which is using a touchscreen like you mentioned. So stay tuned…

  3. Jeroen Says:

    How can kanban best be used in a (non-IT) New Product Development process, as a better and lean alternative to traditional Project Planning using Gantt?

  4. Tim Says:

    You may want to look at boardsync (http://boardsyncnow.com) – many teams have to use electronic tooling for a number of reasons:

    * They may be partially distributed so a single physical board is of no real use for the offsite team members
    * They may be a small team in a much larger team, where the larger team enforces use of software tracking.

    Whatever the reason – some teams disregard physical boards in favour of software.

    That’s a sad day: you can keep both by taking a photo of your board and using boardsync to synchronise the state your software tool of choice.

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