Scrum is a functional framework for applying an agile management system to projects. It’s built on concepts like self-organization and cross-team collaboration. This straightforward system can help team leaders and managers break down complex tasks and distribute them to different team members.

One of the most popular ways to apply Scrum is with Trello, the well-known project management tool. The platform is perfectly suited to host Scrum sprints because of its board structure that provides full visibility into a project’s progress.

We’ve put together a step-by-step guide that will help you grasp the basics about the Scrum methodology and implement it with Trello.

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Scrum 101

The concept of agile was born in the software development field but has been applied in various industries as a productivity booster. It’s based on the idea of incremental and iterative building that quickly responds to changes.

Within agile, Scrum is a framework for applying the agile methodology. It was formulated by Jeff Sutherland in the 1990s on the basis of agile systems used by Japanese companies in the previous two decades. Its main values are transparency, inspection, and adaptation.

Instead of taking a sequential approach, it focuses on holistic development that accounts for unexpected requirement changes and insecurities in project planning. You can implement it on any board – from a whiteboard with notes to evolved software tools like Trello.

Why use Trello for your Scrum board?

At Hubstaff we’re very fond of Trello. We use it extensively, including for managing our editorial calendar for the Hubstaff Blog.

The Trello board we use for the Hubstaff Blog

The Trello board we use for the Hubstaff Blog

Beyond our preferences, Trello is one of the best, free options for implementing Scrum. Its board system lets you create overarching projects, topic- or project-based boards and, within them, the lists you need for Scrum sprints.

The Trello board system matches the flexibility which is inherent to Scrum. It gives you full visibility into project stages, roles, and deadlines. You can share the board with any team member so information is easily available to all.

You can also add all relevant information belonging to a task within cards. These are the working units of Trello and represent single tasks. It ensures documents, comments, deadlines, team members and checklists with subtasks are stored and available in one place.

Getting started with Scrum in Trello

Follow these steps to start using Trello for Scrum sprints:

  1. Once you’ve signed up for Trello, create a board for a topic-specific Scrum sprint. This will be your Sprint Board. You can have a separate Planning Board where you can keep tasks and documents that pertain to the totality of your project or development sessions.Click on the + button in your Trello dashboard and choose Create Board…Screenshot of the Create Board option in Trello
  2. Assign appropriate names to your boards. You can name the boards for Scrum sprints and your Planning Board:Screenshot of assigning a name to a Trello board
  3. Set up lists for Scrum sprints. Lists represent the stage at which tasks can be set. The most widely used ones in Scrum sprints include Backlog, To Do, Doing, Done, and Blocked:Sample of scrum board in Trello The Backlog is the place to store all tasks that your team needs to tackle within your current project or sprint. To Do contains the tasks to be completed in the current sprint. Doing hosts the tasks that are currently being worked on.

    You can move completed tasks to Done.

    You also need a list called Blocked for tasks that are pending for reasons beyond your control. This way you can keep your Doing list as neat as possible.

    It’s useful to create a quality assurance list as well. Once tasks reach the list Done, they can be transferred to QA so that they can go through a quality check before the product feature or project is released. This can be done at the end of each week or as your team’s needs require.

    The goal of a sprint is to move all tasks from the leftmost list Backlog to the rightmost one Done.

  4. Add the board and assign team members to tasks. It’s useful to keep each task card assigned to a single team member to avoid confusion about who’s responsible. You also need to assign the two central figures.You have to select a Project Owner who ensures that what the team produces matches expectations and requirements. You also need a Scrum Master who is in charge of applying the Scrum concepts, overseeing the Sprint board, and leading the team during sprints.You can add the people in the Scrum Sprint board by clicking on Menu in the right side of the board and selecting Add Members:

    Screenshot of adding board members in Trello

  5. You can assign people to tasks by selecting Members in the Add menu on the right:Screenshot of adding members to tasks in Trello
  6. Add important documents and references in tasks’ cards.Having all the information you need in one place will help you limit unnecessary switching between tools and will speed up your sprints. Team members will have all they need to complete a task in a single card. Trello cards can host files, comments, user stories, and any other data.You can attach files by clicking on Attachment within each card.
  7. Use labels to color-code tasks.Color labels can be used for faster orientation in the type and priority of a task. You can also use labels such as Urgent and Blocked.Screenshot of color labels in Trello
  8. Create task checklists for subtasks. You can break down complex tasks into checklists. If a task is assigned to more than one person, assign each subtask to the respective individuals.You can create checklists by clicking Checklist in the Add menu in a task.
  9. Get useful plugins and addons. As Trello is one of the popular platforms to apply Scrum with, there are a bunch of plugins and addons you can use to customize the Trello-Scrum experience.The most notable ones include Scrum for Trello browser extension, Burndown for Trello, and Corrello.

Run your first sprint

Applying Scrum for Trello is a great way to make first steps with the agile methodology. After running your first Scrum Sprint on a Trello board, let us know how it goes. What works best? What’s ineffective? Let us know if the comments.