This is my new Blocker template for use on Scrum Boards and other visual management boards (VMBs).

blockers with text boxes and dates

I use blockers when I want to clearly visualise that something is blocking a story or stopping a team from meeting it’s planned goals.

The characteristic of a good blocker are:

Big

Big blockers can’t be missed and they give plenty of space to write the cause of the owner of the blocker on the card. I’ve attached a template below but I usually print about six per A4 page.

RED

Red is a warning colour and we avoid using it unless we want to call attention to a problem.

Informative

Have a space on the blocker to write brief details about who or what is causing the blockage. Some team only put a red X on the impacted work, I call these mystery blockers, because there is no information about what the blockage is.

Date

Blockers should also be dated as soon as they are placed on the board. This way everyone will know exactly how long the blocker has been an issue. If blockers are an ongoing issue for a team the dates can be recorded and tracked as a metric like average blocker cycle time (how long from a blocker going on a boar to being cleared). Different blocker strategies can  be trialed and you can see if they have a positive or negative impact on average blocker cycle time.

Placement

The blocker should be placed right next to, but not on top of the task, story, feature etc that is blocked.

Printable Blocker Template

Blockers with text boxes and dates