Setting up an Agile story wall

Story walls help ensure your team stays on track.


User stories are an important part of the Agile project management process; they outline the capabilities and functions that people require from systems such as business intelligence platforms. Mostly, these descriptions are written on physical cards that are posted on story walls.

Always be willing to switch up your story wall format when required.

A story wall is a type of ‘information radiator’ that enables all members of the team to see how much progress they are making in an iteration or ‘sprint’. A cohesive, organised story wall provides a key focal point for people’s efforts and ensures everyone is aware of priority tasks and any roadblocks.

There are many ways to set up a story wall, so by no means is the approach we’ll be describing the only one. However, we’ve found it a very efficient methodology for keeping projects on track. Here’s how the consultants at AtoBI traditionally coordinate user stories.

Establishing columns

Story walls are often set out in columns, with progress tracked from left to right. This layout provides a visually accessible means of quickly assessing the success of a project so far.

Your story wall can have as many columns as you deem necessary, although you may want to avoid overcomplicating matters. Columns that businesses commonly use include:

Backlog: This column is where all your user stories begin their journey. Prioritise your cards by placing them in top-down order of importance.

Ready for dev: Once your team has completed the appropriate preparation work and acceptance criteria, cards can move into the ‘ready for development’ column.

In development: No mysteries here – the cards in this column are for those projects that your team is currently working on. However, we recommend that you only have one card per dedicated resource in this column.

Ready to test: When the development phase is complete, your cards can move to the testing column. They should receive signoff against the acceptance criteria at this point.

Complete: The user story has finished the relevant stages and is now considered complete. No further action should be necessary.

Story wall Agile project management. It’s important to establish a story wall strategy.

Blocked cards

The path to effective project management rarely runs smooth, which is why you should introduce a ‘blocked’ cards column to cover user stories that are unable to progress for whatever reason. Every daily stand-up should address these cards to ensure a swift resolution is reached.

Staying flexible

One of the key principles of Agile project management is the ability to adapt to changing needs and market conditions, so always be willing to switch up your story wall format when required.

If you want to learn more about Agile methodologies, the consultants at AtoBI would love to help. Please contact us today.

Why business intelligence is crucial to healthcare’s evolution

The type of data doctors have access to is astounding.


Across the globe, hospitals and other healthcare organisations are turning to business intelligence (BI) solutions to improve patient care. The technology and its associated services enable industry leaders to anticipate disease outbreaks, identify ways to reduce costs and more.

One could argue that knowledge is the chief driver of any innovative business. If a leader knows how to generate consistent revenue, the enterprise in which he or she works will benefit from it. BI can reinforce this knowledge, providing insights that enable industry experts to make the type of decisions that can eventually lead to breakthroughs.

Opportunities and challenges 

Visual analytics developer Qlik commissioned HIMSS Analytics to survey 400 healthcare leaders, many of whom were holding c-suite positions. The research discovered that, of organisations labelled as BI “early adopters”, 56 per cent maintained the technology enabled them to reduce healthcare expenses, enhance patient care, satisfy reporting obligations and find ways to increase an overall population’s access to care.

Less than half (48 per cent) of respondents noted that BI processes and technologies enabled them to take specific actions at a faster pace. This suggests that if a hospital, for instance, were to use a data visualisation program such as QlikView on a regular basis, it could figure out how certain aspects of the business are affected by monthly or weekly changes.

42 per cent of survey participants suggested that end users weren’t adopting BI solutions.

These figures would make one think that BI and healthcare are a match made in heaven, but there are challenges associated with this relationship.

For example, 42 per cent of survey participants suggested that end users weren’t adopting BI solutions. This could allude to a number of situations. Maybe workers have trouble using certain functions. Perhaps personnel don’t know how to structure flexible data analysis projects.

Volume, variety and velocity 

Managing information efficiently is one of the biggest challenges facing healthcare companies. If they can’t create processes that gather and organise data, analysing it becomes much more difficult.

According to a study conducted by researchers from Health Information Science and Systems (HISS), the root of this problem lies in ‘the three Vs’ – volume, variety and velocity, which refer to big data’s characteristics. Let’s break them down:

  1. Volume: The amount of data healthcare companies create and collect.
  2. Variety: The various types of data enterprises need to manage.
  3. Velocity: The speed at which healthcare information is generated.

HISS exemplified the three Vs by listing the kind of information hospitals, health clinics and other such organisations oversee. The typical patient profile may contain medical images, physicians’ notes and insurance information. This doesn’t include hospital financial data, sensor and machine-generated data, social media posts and other disparate information.

Based on these concerns, it’s not surprising that many healthcare organisations seek technical support from professionals who know how to organise and analyse a wide variety of data. Specifically, how can those in the healthcare sector get a handle on it?

An infrastructure for big data 

Infrastructures enable processes – it’s as simple as that. The trains, roads, utility networks and other assets that make up the modern city enable millions of people to go to work, power refrigerators, access clean drinking water and so forth.

The same concept applies to big data: Healthcare companies need infrastructures that enable them to efficiently manage and analyse a huge volume of information in their native formats.

The MapR Converged Data Platform, a Hadoop distribution and one technology ourselves and our partners have been working with quite a bit, is just such a system. According to the distributor’s website, the technology can not only enable administrators to access unstructured data but also support genome processing and DNA sequencing projects.

However, decision makers should be aware that such a system is not a cure-all for big data challenges. To address the problems discussed above, healthcare professionals should work with consultants who specialise in using technologies to structure flexible, iterative data analysis projects.