A Vision of a Better Grocery List
Just to show how versatile Trello can be I want to share one of the personal projects I built with it this week: a family Grocery List.
We’re a family of five. Grocery shopping for that many people is the urban equivalent of big game hunting. Minimizing trips to the store is key to staying on budget in terms of money and time. That means making sure everyone’s wants and needs for the week are collected into the weekly grocery list.
In the past we used pen and paper but inevitably whoever was collecting everything into one master list would miss something, regardless of how many times they grilled each member of the family to find out what should be added. We needed a way to centrally track everyone’s additions as soon as they thought of them. Something that could go everywhere with everyone and be available to whomever was doing the shopping that week.
I’ve been a fan of Trello for work related project management for a couple of years now. It is great for managing software development and IT projects but I wondered if I could put this Kanban tool to work in a more mundane practice. Could it be the ultimate grocery list tool?
Why yes it could.
So here’s the step by step on setting up your own collaborative grocery list tool with Trello for you and yours.
First things first. If you don’t have a Trello account get over to Trello.com and sign up for one. It’s free. And after you’ve seen what it can do you’ll be using it quite a bit.
Create Your Team
You can use Trello as an individual but for the family grocery list you’re going to want to setup your family as a team.
Once you’re logged in click the “+” button to drop down a list of options.
Click the Create Personal Team option to launch the team creation wizard and start adding family members to your team.
Add the name and description of your team and click the create button to finish creating it.
You will land in the team page.
Click the Members tab and then click the “Add by Name or Email” to start adding family members to your team.
Once you’ve added all your family members it’s time to create your board to hold your Grocery list. Click the Boards tab and then click the “Create Board” button.
This brings up the Create Board dialog where you can name your board.
Click the “Create” button to finish creating the board. You will land in the Kanban board for the grocery list.
Add the following lists by typing each of the following headers into the “Add a list…” text boxes and pressing enter: Need, To Buy, Bought, and May Need again.
Your board is ready for your family to begin adding items.
But Wait! There’s More!
You could stop here. But right now you’ve barely scratched the surface. You’re just one step beyond paper and pen at this point and I promised this would be the ultimate grocery list solution. So what’s next? I’m glad you asked.
Label Items With Their Stores
Trello items can be labeled. This makes it possible for you to have items from multiple stores labeled for easy reference. And if an item is available at more than one store? You can add multiple labels to it to represent each store.
For the demo here I’ll show three labels: Red for “Bulls-eye”, Blue for “Wally World”, and Yellow for “Office Colossus”.
You can add more labels for all of the stores you and your family frequent. When I add items to my board it comes out looking like this.
But which paper-clips should I get? Is it the organic bananas or chemically enhanced ones? That’s where the last feature I’m going to show you makes Trello truly the Ultimate Grocery List tool.
That’s right! No more questioning whether it’s the blue bottle or the green bottle. Snap a picture of the item you want and add it right to your grocery list item. Bingo you’ve got a visual guide as to what needs to be bought.
You can keep enhancing your list to make it even more useful for you and your family. Edit the description to include prices. Add comments to track the last time you bought it. Mention @familymembers to let them know they need to pick something up or ask them if you are running low on a certain item.
There are plenty of ways to add more to make this even more useful.
Happy Shopping Everyone!
Don’t limit your thinking when it comes to defining “what” a Scrum development team is. It is not just those writing code. It’s not just developers or programmers. The team is everyone that moves the ball forward.
Developers, testers, business analysts, scrum masters and product owners all play a role in the successful completion of a sprint and moving work across the Kanban board to done.
Without this understanding it becomes too easy to weight certain team members contribution as more or less than that of another team member. The Agile Scrum team succeeds or fails together as a team. Everyone is a “Developer” on the team. Everyone is as accountable as everyone else.
Roles should be fluid on a Scrum Development Team. At times coders will write code and QAs will test, but if there is a need roles can shift. Developers may be called on to test and QAs or the Scrum Master may have to get elbow deep in writing code. There is no hard wall between what team members do on a Scrum Development team.
The definition of a Scrum Development Team should be: A group of skilled team members following agile/Scrum principles accountable to deliver a committed volume of work within the sprint time box that delivers value to the organization.
Principles, Accountability and Value are the prime considerations in that definition.
Question: What is your definition of a Scrum development team?
User stories start their lives as an unruly mess. They often have just the briefest of descriptions, no direction and no vision for what they will be when they mature and reach the status of Done.
The skilled product owner or agilist responsible for grooming these user stories takes this rough form and elaborates it and then grooms it to a viable candidate for consideration in future sprints.
This takes communication with stakeholders. Asking them questions. Getting clarification. Ferreting out important details so the User Story can be successfully stated in the “As a <type of user> I want <specified functionality> so that <realized benefit>” format.
Their job isn’t finished yet though. They next must insure that the acceptance criteria of the user story is defined.
- Performance must exceed x threshold.
- Capability y must allow for z exceptions
- Security must incorporate principle Q
Just when you think you’ve got everything covered, in comes the development team with their parade of questions.
- Just what is capability y?
- Threshold x requires technology b, is that acceptable?
- Would security principle K be a valid substitute for Q?
On and on. But, to have any chance of successful estimation these questions have to be answered. Once they are? The user story is ready to be considered a candidate for a future sprint.
Now all that’s left is for the stakeholders to determine that it is the next high value item that should be addressed and into the Sprint Backlog it goes.
Question: How thorough is your grooming process? Leave your answers in the comments below.
If you’ve ever found yourself struggling to stay focused on the work you need to be doing there’s a simple tool that can help you prioritize, stay focused, and get work done faster and with better results. All it takes is a white board, some dry erase markers, and index cards or sticky notes.
What I am talking about is setting up your very own Kanban board. The same kind of boards used in modern, agile software development shops around the world. The Kanban board isn’t just for technical teams. Setting one up to manage your own flow of tasks will produce results beyond what you ever thought possible.
The setup is simple. Get a decent sized white board. I recommend one at least 3 feet wide. Draw off four columns: To Do, Doing, Stuck and Done. Write the tasks you need to accomplish on index cards or sticky notes and place them in the To Do column of the white board.
Once all the tasks are on the board rearrange them so that they start at the top with the most crucial things to get done and descend down the board to the least crucial tasks. As you start a task move the card or sticky to the Doing column. If you ever get stuck and are unable to complete a task due to any reason move it to the Stuck column until whatever is blocking you is resolved.
Once you’ve completed a task, move the card to the Done column. Then go back to the To Do column and select your next task to work on. Repeat until all of your cards have moved from the To Do column to the Done column.
Make sure you never have more than one card in motion at a time. You will be amazed when you focus your effort on getting a task fully completed before moving on to the next one. Stop Starting and Start Finishing is an admonishment and challenge from Lean disciplines. When you start practicing it amazing results will follow.
The process sounds simple, and it is, but it takes discipline. You’ll be tempted to cheat and think you can track everything in your head. Don’t do it. Create the board and move the cards. These tasks have more power to motivate you than you realize. The small reward of moving the cards and seeing the progress you are making is crazy addictive. Try it. You will see.
If you are interested in learning more check out Personal Kanban: Mapping Work | Navigating Life to read up on the topic of using Kanban in your day to day life.
Also, I want to hear or see your experiments. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, Tweet to @natfyi, or share your YouTube video with me to show me your results. I know I will learn something from your experiences.
As always if you have questions you can reach me via the methods above and I will do my best to give you a response that helps you as quickly as I can.
Enjoy your productivity everyone!