Information Radiator

Communication is very important aspect of Agile Development, Every project manager quickly learns that the most valuable technique for project success is communication.

To foster communication between team and to bring high visibility ‘Information Radiator‘ plays great role.

So what is ‘information radiator’?

An information radiator is a publicly posted large, highly visible display that shows people walking by what is going on. Information radiator used by software development teams to track progress.
It was firstly introduced by ‘Alistair Cockburn‘, in his own word “An information radiator displays information in a place where passersby can see it. With information radiators, the passersby don’t need to ask any question; the information simply hits them as they pass.”

Information radiators enable team members to view the current state of the project and its progress. So most agile teams implement it to some degree in their processes.

Most popular information radiators are:

  • Task boards
  • Big visible charts (Includes burndown charts)
  • Continuous integration build health indicators (Including lava lamps and street lights)

 Task Board

In its most basic form, a task board can be drawn on a whiteboard or even a section of wall. Using electrical tape or a dry erase pen, the board is divided into three columns labeled “To Do”, “In Progress” and “Done”. Sticky notes or index cards, one for each task the team is working on, are placed in the columns reflecting the current status of the tasks.

The task board serves as a focal point for the daily meeting, keeping it focused on progress and obstacle.

Information radiators are typically used to show status information, such as:

  • The current iteration’s work set (use cases or stories)
  • The current work assignments
  • The number of tests written (or passed)
  • The number of use cases (or stories) delivered
  • The status of key servers (up, down, in maintenance)
  • The core of the domain model
  • The results of the last reflection workshop

Effective information radiators should be:

  • Simple: Brief and concise.
  • Stark: Errors should not be masked, rather should be used to improve the work and performance.
  • Current: Information displayed should be the latest.
  • Transient: Once the problem has been rectified, it should be taken off from the chart.
  • Influential: Empowers the team to take decisions.
  • Highly visible: Easy to see and understand.
  • Minimal in number: Not so many that they drown out other information.

Benefits of information radiator:

  • Information is easily visible to all
  • Better communication & clarity to all team member
  • Team have better hold on status

Ref: source

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