While working on a large application, in order to avoid missed deadlines and overshot budgets, it's important that you follow robust, reliable approaches to project management and software development. While there are many approaches, most companies and freelancers these days try to adhere to the agile ones, primarily because they are simple, user-centric, and can easily handle rapidly evolving project requirements.
Early adopters of the agile paradigm made do with whiteboards and sticky notes. Today, however, using a cloud-based agile project management tool is the way to go. One such tool is monday.com—and it's a very popular one.
With monday.com, following agile practices such as Scrum or Kanban is as straightforward as it can get. Using its simple yet visually appealing interface, important routine tasks such as communicating with your teammates, keeping track of their workloads, and assessing team performance can be fun and effortless.
In this tutorial, I'll show you how monday.com can help you better implement agile practices.
1. Creating an Account
monday.com is a paid service with four different pricing plans. It has a free trial, though, which you can use to get started. To start the free trial, go to its home page, type in a valid email address, and press the Get Started button.
Over the next few screens, you'll be asked to provide a few simple details about your team, such as the number of people in it and what it does. If you choose to provide the email addresses of your teammates, monday.com will automatically invite them to join you.
Towards the end of the registration process, you'll be able to create a personalized URL for your account, which you can use to access your boards directly.
2. Creating a Board
The first thing you need to do on monday.com is create an agile board. Regardless of the pricing plan you're on, the platform allows you to create an unlimited number of boards.
For the sake of a realistic example, we'll create a board to manage an Android app development project. The app's going to be a simple note-taking app.
Currently, monday.com offers over 70 carefully designed templates you can use to create your board. To better appreciate all the features the platform offers, though, let's create a board from scratch now.
Start by clicking on the + button you see in the Boards section and selecting the Blank Board template.
Then, in the dialog that pops up, give an appropriate name to the board and press the Create Board button.
When your board's ready, it will look like this:
3. Creating Sprints
Boards on monday.com are made up of groups. Each group can have one or more items, and each item can have multiple columns. How you use all these elements is wholly up to you. For now, because we'll be following the Scrum framework, you can think of each group as a sprint and each item as a task you or your teammates are going to tackle during the sprint.
Our generic board already has two groups. Click on their titles to give them meaningful sprint names. Optionally, you can assign a new color to each group by clicking on the colored circle shown beside its title.
To edit the title of an item, you must hover over its first column and click on the button that appears beside it. Similarly, to assign an owner to a task, hover over the Person column and click on the + button.
The Status column lets you quickly change the current status of a task. By default, you have three statuses to choose from. To add more, feel free to click on the Add/Edit Labels button.
Except for the first column, all other columns in an item are optional. To delete a column, all you need to do is hover over its header, open its context menu, and click on the Delete Column button. For now, delete the last column, which is titled Date.
It's worth mentioning that all the groups present on a board will always have the same columns. Any column-related add, delete, or move operations you perform in one group will automatically be applied to all the other groups on the board. This not only gives a consistent structure to the board but also makes it easy for you to drag and drop items from one group to another.
4. Creating a Timeline
monday.com supports several different types of columns. In the previous step, we already came across three different types: People, Status, and Date. To get a list of all available column types and to understand what they are meant for, you can open the Column Center by going to New > Column and pressing the More Columns button.
Let's now add a column that can display a timeline. To do so, click on the Add to board button shown in the Timeline card.
All the tasks on the board will now have a new column titled Timeline. By clicking on it, you can open the Timeline view, using which you can quickly infer details such as durations of tasks and workloads of team members. You can also also easily identify pending and concurrent tasks.
In the Timeline view, you can reschedule a task by simply dragging it to a new set of dates. Similarly, to change the duration of a task, you can drag the handles shown at its left and right corners. If you aren't comfortable with drag-and-drop operations, though, you can always click on the task and change its start and end dates using a calendar widget.
By default, the Timeline view groups tasks by the people they are assigned to. You are, however, free to group tasks by any column that's present on the board. For instance, you can group tasks by their current status. To do so, click on the gear icon shown at the top left corner of the view. In the panel that opens, change the Group By field from Person to Status.
5. Adding a Kanban View
Using a Kanban board is a better alternative to grouping tasks by their status in a timeline. In general, a Kanban board is also a great way to visualize and optimize the workflow of your team.
With monday.com, all it takes is a few clicks to view your board as a Kanban board. First, open the Views Center by clicking on the Add View button. Then, scroll down to find the Kanban view and click on the Add to board button.
You'll now notice that there's a new Kanban button present on your board. Click on it to open the Kanban view.
The Kanban view, by default, groups tasks by status. You're free to drag and drop tasks from one group to another. When you do so, their statuses in your original board will be updated automatically.
If you want the Kanban view to also display the people who are assigned to each task, click on the gear icon shown near its top left corner and, in the form shown, set the value of the Assignee Column field to Person.
Additionally, if you want to organize the tasks based on the sprints they belong to, turn on the Divide by groups setting.
With the above changes, your Kanban board should look like this:
6. Creating an Automation
Some jobs are best left to bots. monday.com offers a large variety of automations you can use to handle recurring tasks, monitor status changes, and enforce rules. If you've ever used services such as IFTTT or Tasker, you'll feel at home creating automations on monday.com.
An automation is made up of a conditional statement and an action to execute if the statement's true. For example, here's a valid automation: "If the status of a task changes to Done, archive it".
The above automation is available in the Automations Center dialog. To add it to your board, go to New > Automation and click on the More Automations button. On the next screen, switch to the Status Change category and select the second card shown in the screenshot below:
You'll now see a statement with two blanks, which you must fill. Click on the first blank and select the Status column of your board. Similarly, click on the second blank and select the Done option.
Your first automation is ready. Click on the Add to Board button to activate it.
From now on, whenever you or your teammates change the status of a task to done, it will be removed from your board automatically.
monday.com is a modern project management tool you can use to follow agile methodologies at your workplace. Because it's cloud-based, you can access it from anywhere and from any device. It has full-featured web, desktop, and mobile clients, all of which offer the same secure and pleasing experience.
In this tutorial, you learned how to work with boards, groups, and items while using monday.com. You also learned how to create and configure views and automations. To learn more, do refer to the official guides and documentation.
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