Jul 07

Getting Your Excel Product Backlog to Print out Cards

Best idea I’ve seen so far… (Thanks to Mark Levinson)

The precis:
12 Easy steps for generating Index Cards from your Sprint Backlog

So you’ve captured your sprint backlog in Excel and want to print out Index cards for use on your task board. (I know many will tell you not to use Excel in the first place – I won’t). Your in luck its not all that painful.

The trick – don’t try using Excel. Instead use Mail Merge and Word (my menu hints are for Word 2003 – ymmv):

1. On the Tools menu, select Letters and Envelopes, Mail Merge. In Word 2003 the Mail Merge Wizard will appear on the right hand side (same location as the help appears).
2. Select the Labels radio button. (Click Next)
3. Click on the Label Options… and choose either a standard label size if one fits your needs or create a custom size (mine are 3″ by 4″). (Click Finish)
4. If your not printing on perforated Index cards – Add Borders this will make it much easier to cut resulting cards. On the Table menu select Table Properties and click on the Borders and Shading… button (on the table tab). Pick your borders.
5. Click Next: Select recipients
6. Use Existing list and browse to Excel Sprint Tracker (you could use any other datasource that Word recognizes).
7. Choose the work Sheet and select the rows to include.
8. Click Next: Arrange your labels
9. Under Arrange Labels choose More Items… – this will give you an ugly list (F1, F2, F3 etc) which corresponds to the columns in your spreadsheet. In my case I insert F2 (Task Description) and F3 (Estimated Hours).
10. Add pretty text and formatting you need to the first label and click Update all Labels button. I suggest that you make the task text big (20 pt perhaps) so its easily readable on the corkboard. (I can make the estimates appear on the right but haven’t found a simple way of forcing to the bottom of the cell).
11. Click Next: Preview Labels and then if all looks good complete the merge.
12. Either Print… directly from here or do the Edit Individual labels…

With all the time you save – look me up at Agile 2007 and buy me a pint.