Scrum Tools | BananaScrum | Review

BananaScrum, created by Code Sprinters, is, as the name suggests, a tool to manage Scrum projects. BananaScrum is a web based application and works as a service from Code Sprinters, so you don’t need to download or install anything. All you need to do is to request your own account from the Code Sprinters web page and start using it. If you are wondering why they chose BananaScrum as the tool name, here is their own explanation: “Remember the Agile Manifesto? “Individuals and interactions over processes and tools”. This is just a tool, nice and useful but just a tool. Let’s not get too pompous about it.
The tool is incredibly simple and was built with only Scrum in mind, so they didn’t have to worry about generic projects, allowing them to focus only on scrum terms and dynamics. 

Getting Started

The first thing to do on BananaScrum should be to create a project and  to register the people who are going to work on it, very little information is necessary, only the essentials to start working.  After that you can start creating your Product Backlog, in a very easy way. You only need to type Name, Description and Estimate. The estimate part can be a bit of a problem if you don’t use the Fibonacci based scale that normally appears on planning poker cards. This scale is mandatory on BananaScrum but as Fibonacci is probably the most used scale by scrum teams, it can be useful for most of the situations. Another problem is that BananaScrum doesn’t have a release planning feature, so it is not clear when the team reaches the point desired for a release.

 


The prioritization is the best part of the backlog management feature.  It allows one to drag and drop the items to prioritize them, as if you are working with cards on a big table – really, really easy. It´s also possible to mark your backlog items with tags, so that you can create a huge a amount of tags and associate them to your items. These tags work as a kind of filter, you can see only those items which have a particular tag, or two tags, or don´t have any tag, etc. This feature allows you to generate a very complex set of views for your backlog.

Sprint Planning

With your backlog in place it is time to start a sprint. Just create a new sprint and drag the stories from the backlog that the team thinks will fit into the sprint. This is an appropriate time to create the tasks from each story but it is also possible to create the tasks when the story is still in the backlog. Creating tasks is also an easy job, just type the description, estimate and assign it to someone if you like. The estimate of task time is made in hours and again, there’s no way to change it, but there is no fixed scale, so you can use any value.  Task estimation is mandatory for seeing the burndown chart working, so if you don’t estimate your tasks you can use the 1hour-for-everything trick, and track the progress by the amount of tasks.

On BananaScrum it’s also possible to register your impediments in an impediment backlog the same way you create the stories of the product backlog. You cannot assign a response for the impediment but you can mark them as closed with a comment of how it is to be solved. For the burndown chart there is only one option, the hours X sprint days for the sprint tasks, there is no release burndown or a velocity chart so as far as tracking goes, there is something missing from this tool. Another thing missing is a clearer way one sets the status of the tasks, visually you cannot say if a task is open or in development, the only visual aid is a green mark saying that a task is done when you report there are no more hours left to work on it.


Conclusion

The great power of BananaScrum is its simplicity but sometimes this simple way of doing things can cost some flexibility. Code Sprinters build the product based on the most popular practices of Scrum, like the Fibonacci scale for estimating and the Hours X Sprint Days burndown chart, this can be useful for many scrum teams but if you do some things a little differently to BananaScrum you will have to adapt yourself to the tool. But if things are not a problem to you and you want a tool that is simple to use, easy to learn and can perform the basics of the Scrum process, BananaScrum is worth a look.

2 responses to “Scrum Tools | BananaScrum | Review

  1. Pingback: Scrum Tools | List « Scrum 4 You

  2. I used this tool for a few projects and it’s very nicely done.

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