Sharing your task board across the globe

Serge Beaumont

Nowadays the Task Board has become one of the basic agile tools, and it features lots of stickies. As I was looking from my Task Board to my desktop I had an idea: all I needed for an International Task Board was a desktop background and a desktop stickies app!

"We don't need no expensive tooling"

I use Windows and Mac OS X, and on both OSes I like to use those sticky notes for your desktop. On Windows I have used AtNotes (freeware, discontinued but the latest version still works fine). There are alternatives like StickyPad. On Mac OS X I use the Stickies app that comes with the OS. Of course the cool thing is that you can use whatever stickies app you like best, or even have several running at the same time...

So there you are: all you need for an electronic task board is a desktop stickies app and a desktop background. What's more, if you share the desktop with VNC, Remote Desktop or a similar application, you can cheaply and easily share a task board across the globe.

The international version

So, you've got your taskboard. To turn this into an international task board all you need is a remote login solution like one of the many VNC clones or Remote Desktop. Now all you need are some spare machines and a direct, secure connection. My favorite solution to create a secure connection by two non-server machines over the internet is Hamachi. Create a virtual VPN, use Remote Desktop to log in to the machine hosting the Desktop Task Board, and you're good to go.

In Summary

I've always been sceptical of tools: in the Rational Rose era I found that if you couldn't model with Visio and Word, you couldn't model at all: Rose got in the way more than it helped. This low tech task board has that same feel for me: I can understand the need for tooling to support large agile projects, but I'm determined to put that moment off for as long as possible :-).

So you need:

Happy task boarding, and don't go fighting over mouse control, okay? 😉

Comments (7)

  1. Gerard Janssen - Reply

    October 18, 2007 at 6:06 am

    That is a nice idea! Although the idea of replacing the background picture of ones kids with this boring black gradient might not appeal to everybody 🙂
    However, as a way of visualizing you backlog this actually might work. Personally I'm more of a tool lover than you are I guess, but I see potential to link this to your requirements / issue administration tool. It is not so much about tools or anything, but about being able to get a quick overview on the status of the project or iteration. And this really helps on that part.

    Oh, by the way, I'm also the kind of guy that keeps his desktop as clean and empty as possible. Not even icons on it.

  2. Lars Vonk - Reply

    October 18, 2007 at 10:00 pm

    Nice idea Serge. Simple and cheap. Some sticky apps for linux users: tomboy notes, xpad.

  3. Machiel Groeneveld - Reply

    October 19, 2007 at 11:52 am

    It's great for working with distributed teams. I see this as a nice addition to the physical white boards. This cannot replace the openness and honesty of big visible charts, having the chart visible all day can also help the team keep focus on the sprint goal and increase the sense of urgency when the end of sprint is near.

  4. Mary - Reply

    October 19, 2007 at 8:06 pm

    This is a good idea! Not only for a - distributed- team but for individuals as well. Because some people have 3 ideas a day, can't get all their planned work done and add these to their 'to do' list and never come to realise or evaluate them.
    So, in the high section they could stick the important and urgent things to do which they have to do almost immediately. Usually this has to do with people and relations.
    In the med section they could stick the urgent but not important things to do and make space in their agenda or delegate.
    In the low section they stick the important but ot urgent things and plan these.
    In the parking lot they stick the not important and not urgent things or delete them/rename this section into 'trashcan'. When going through your almost endless 'to do' list you will come across ideas you had three times already and were noted as many times as you had the ideas. You prioritise.
    I can almost guarantee that this helps.
    Tools are not really my cup of tea but thank you very much for this!

  5. Vernon - Reply

    February 24, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    Hey Serge, I do almost the same thing, except I use BumpTop and use one of my walls and the BumpTop stickies. Works very well, and even solves Gerard's problem of wanting to keep a picture of the kids up. I also use it only for personal projects, not Team projects. Team projects need Big Visible Charts.

    Disclosure: I'm not associated with BumpTop, just a happy customer.

  6. trris - Reply

    October 26, 2010 at 7:18 am

    no perfect solution currently exists.. but there are smarter ways to do that.. this seems totally unusable. needing a VPN client to check someone's todo...? I guess you need to call the person to ask him/her to stop working and show his/her desktop ?

    best guess : a shared google spreadsheet. 1 line=1 task. 1 column=1 person. order=priority.

  7. Terrence Rethmeier - Reply

    August 29, 2013 at 10:35 am

    You explained this fantastically..
    Nicely place, Thanks a good deal.

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