Chapter 29. Digital Tools Considered Harmful: Sprint Backlog

Bas Vodde

It is unfortunately common to use a digital Sprint Backlog. I say unfortunately because of the negative impact a digital Sprint Backlog tends to have on team dynamics and collaboration. Using a digital tool for a Product Backlog might also be common but is less harmful. Digital Sprint Backlogs should be avoided! I’ve observed four reasons why digital Sprint Backlogs are used, where each reason is a reflection of a team or organizational dysfunction.

1. The Team Is Not Co-Located. Dispersed teams are common, as many companies pretend co-location doesn’t matter and allow organizational stupidity to disperse the majority of their teams. Check out my article related to this, titled “Co-location Still Matters”. Dispersed teams often end up quickly deciding to use a digital Sprint Backlog, yet I’ve known many teams that manage fine with Post-It Sprint Backlogs, white boards, video, and photos.

2. Mandated Sprint Backlog Tool. Although I have often inquired about the benefits of “harmonizing” the Sprint Backlog tool, the reasons to do so are still unclear to me. The most common response is a desire for better in-Sprint progress tracking. This is a clear sign Scrum is being misused for micromanagement purposes, as in-Sprint progress tracking is the responsibility of the team. Another frequent response is to derive ...

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