How to Use Project Organization Templates

Scrum Board

A Scrum Board is used in Agile software development. It is a tool that helps the team track the progress of a sprint, which is a collection of features that provide an incremental update to a product. At a minimum, a scrum board contains the list of tasks (items to be worked on during the sprint), along with columns to mark the status of each task. The template uses the status terms “In Progress”, “Blocked”, and “Completed” but these can be modified to suit your own team’s terminology.

The best practice for this template is to use the color-coded cards to represent each task in the sprint, then place them onto the appropriate column. Move the cards from left to right as the task progresses. You can use the initiative column to assign individual team members or individual user stories (which are the requirements and description of a software feature from the user’s perspective).

Project Management

The Project Management template provides a central place to capture all the phases of your project.

At the start of your project, place the template in your workspace and modify the text with your details. The project team members will have a central place to view information about the project and can provide updates as well.

To use this template, place it in your workspace at the start of the project. Replace the cards and text with your project’s details, and share the template with the project team so they can make updates as well.

Design Review

The Design Review template allows your team to perform iterations of design reviews leading to a final approved design. By capturing the iterations of each review, the team can see the evolution of the final design.

To use this template, place your reference materials and mock-up diagrams within the leftmost canvas. Develop your materials and then place them in the Design Review #1 canvas. Meet with your colleagues to go over the materials, adding action items in the area at the bottom of the canvas. Use notecards as well as the drawing tools to identify areas for improvement. Continue revising the content, populating the canvases for each review as needed until the design is finalized.

Swimlanes

A Swimlane diagram is a type of flowchart. Process steps are placed within the horizontal “swimlanes” of a particular employee, team, department, application area, workstream, or workgroup. It’s also sometimes called a cross-functional diagram or a Rummler-Brache diagram.

To use this template, place it in your workspace, then change the text of each colored card to designate each workstream. Map your process using the appropriate flowchart symbols, then add connectors to show how the process flows from start to finish.

Kanban Swimlanes

The Kanban Swimlanes template uses the Kanban methodology to map a workflow. Each notecard (labeled “Initiative x”) is a task. Each column (Requested, In Progress, Done) represents a different stage in the workflow. Cards progress from left to right through the columns until the task is completed. Swimlanes are horizontal lines used to separate different teams, departments, activities, projects, etc.

A Kanban board can be useful to spot bottlenecks in your workflow (i.e., too many cards in one column). To alleviate the bottlenecks, Kanban methodology advocates limiting the number of tasks in any given column, based on the capacity of that stage to handle the assigned tasks. Employees focus on finishing existing tasks rather than starting new ones.

To use this template, place it in your workspace, then change the swimlane labels to fit your use. Modify the column labels to model your workflow, then add cards for each initiative, placing them in the appropriate column. Move the cards to the next column as the task progresses through the workflow.

Obstacle Board

An Obstacle Board is a special kind of chart used to identify the items that are slowing down your processes. An obstacle may be something that slows down (but doesn’t stop) your work, or it can be a complete blocker to your workflow. Before using this template, come to an agreement with your team on what an obstacle is. Some examples of obstacles are faulty equipment, lack of education on how to perform a task, or a delayed hardware request.

Tip: Include the date the obstacle first appeared on your board so you can track how long the impediment has been around.

Obstacles should be removed, and if that is not immediately possible, prioritized so they are worked on and removed.

Retrospective

This template is also called the “4Ls Technique” in AGILE Development. It is used at the end of a project to capture both positive and negative feedback about the project or body of work. The 4 Ls are:

  • Liked – what did the group like about the project?
  • Learned – what did the team learn during the project?
  • Lacked – what could have gone better, or what seemed to be missing?
  • Longed for – what item or process or tool would have helped the project ensure a successful outcome?

To use this template, instruct each team member to add a notecard to the workspace, add a phrase or sentence in the text area, and place the notecard onto the appropriate section. Take a few minutes for team members to compose their thoughts and add several notecards if they want. After everyone has finished, group similar notecards within a section, and then discuss the ideas. At the end of the exercise, make sure everyone is aware of priorities and actions for the ideas.

Status Report

This template allows team members to check in to a project, group, or supervisor by answering a simple set of questions. It allows a team to skip a regular status meeting if the project is proceeding without major issues by providing a format for members to post their statuses within the workspace on a regular basis.

To use the template, place it in the workspace, then click in the text areas to provide the current date, name of the person reporting the status, and answers to the four questions. Increase the size of the canvas if more room is needed for the answers.

User Empathy Map

This template is used by UX and Design teams to help articulate what is known about a particular type of user. This knowledge is used to form a common understanding of users’ needs and to aid in decision-making. A user empathy map can also identify gaps- areas where not enough is known about the user or persona.

The four quadrants of the user empathy map capture the following items:

  • Says – what does the user say out loud? Ideally, the quadrant contains direct quotes from interviews and research.
  • Thinks – what is the user thinking about? What matters to the user?
  • Does – what actions the user takes, and how does the user physically take those actions.
  • Feels – what does the user feel about the experience? What worries them? What excites them?

To use this template, place it in the workspace. Add details about the user perspective at the top, and then rename the “User” label in the center to the user or persona you are mapping. Place notecards in each quadrant to capture details of each area based on the source materials and research. After everyone in the group has contributed, go over the materials to make sure there’s a shared understanding about the user or persona.

RACI Matrix

A RACI Analysis maps all of the activities or decision-making activities against the people or roles within an organization. RACI is an acronym for Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed . At the intersection of each role and each activity in the matrix, one of the RACI categories can be designated.

The definitions of RACI categories are as follows:

  • Responsible – the person who performs the activity or does the work
  • Accountable – the person who is ultimately responsible and has yes/no/veto authority
  • Consulted – the person who needs to provide feedback and who may contribute to the activity
  • Informed – the person who needs to know the decision or action

To use the template to perform a RACI Analysis, place the template in your workspace. Identify the Project or Organization roles, replacing the template text on the left side of the matrix with these values. Next, replace the template text across the top of the matrix with the project tasks or deliverables. Place (or duplicate the existing) notecards at the intersection of each row and column, designating whether the role has a Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, or Informed role for each task. After the matrix has been filled out, you can analyze it to determine potential gaps such as a task without anyone accountable for it.

The following example shows a RACI Matrix for a software customization project for customer ACME. Note that a given role might have more than one category for a particular task. In the example, the Project Manager is the person who develops the schedule and also is accountable for it.

Five Why (Root Cause Analysis)

This template is used to facilitate a Five Why analysis to determine the root cause of a problem. A Five Why analysis was developed originally by the Toyota Motor Corporation to discover the nature of a problem as well as its solution. This technique has now been incorporated into Lean Development methodology.

To perform a Five Why analysis using the template, place the template in your workspace. Clearly state the problem you’re trying to solve at the top of the canvas. Invite others to the workspace to discuss the issue. Next, think of one cause for the problem, putting a short summary in the “Cause #1” box. Ask yourself or your team why this happened and keep asking “why” up to five times until you have discovered the true source of the problem. Repeat the exercise if there is more than one cause for the problem. Make sure you have a plan to correct the issue and have assigned an owner for the work.

The following example shows how the Five Why analysis determined multiple root causes for a problem that was happening to customers from ACME company who were trying to get product issues resolved using Customer Support resources.

Storyboard (Simple)

Storyboard (Simple) provides a visual organizer for a narrative. You can use this in the Media and Entertainment industry, and also can also be used in the business world to map a customer’s interaction with new products. They can also be used to organize your thoughts, develop a high-level plan, or capture a sequence of activities.

To use this template, place it in your workspace and then replace the Project Title and Scene text with your own information. Add graphics to the large boxes, placing written descriptions of each scene in the smaller “Description” boxes below the scene.

Role Expectations Matrix

Role Expectations Matrix helps your team clarify and understand the role and responsibilities of each member. It is typically used as part of a Roles and Responsibilities workshop that is conducted either at the creation of a team, or when issues on the team that can be remedied with an understanding of which tasks are performed by each role.

To use the template, first identify each role on the team. An example of a role might be “Developer” or “Project Manager” or “Quality Assurance Tester.” Replace the labels at the top and left sides of the matrix with your own roles; add additional columns and rows if needed. Next, have the team members within each role work together to identify their top 3-5 responsibilities (tasks). Place one notecard per task in the appropriate box on the matrix, at the intersection of their vertical and horizontal role label. Going across the grid on the Role line, have each Role identify 1-3 responsibilities for each other role, placing the tasks on notecards in each box. Come together as a group to discuss the tasks and to make sure there is an agreement with everyone regarding ownership of each task.

Tip: Use the workspace timer to keep the exercise moving. Allow five minutes for identifying the roles, ten minutes for self-identifying tasks for a role, and ten minutes for identifying tasks for other roles.

How does your team use Project Organization Templates? Hit Reply below.