This is a post by guest blogger Steward CopperA few days ago I was attending the IT Project Management Conference and participated in a survey. All the attendants were asked one question: "What project management tool or solution do you use for the Agile projects?" Among the Top-10 Agile tools there were the ones I'd used to manage, plan and track my projects and processes - MS Excel, Pivotal Tracker, Comindware and VersionOne. So, let me share my thoughts and experience of using them for task management, sprint and iteration planning, daily meetings, burn-downcharts creation, project tracking and other Agile techniques.
- allows to create a product backlog while listing user stories, placing estimates and deadlines;
- allows to plan iterations or sprints (it's good to create a template on a specific sheet);
- allows to group tasks into sprints using a using a standard group tool;
- allows to add any kind of comments for the tasks, stories and other entities using a standard commenting tool;
- allows to support daily stand-ups while filling a sprint progress data;
- provides very high level of flexibility while drawing graphs including burn-down chart, creating custom reports including digital dashboards and so on.
Excel helps many of us to manage projects but it's not so good for remote teams and big projects. Some managers don't use Excel because it doesn't provide the set of predefined processes.
- it's developed especially for Agile projects and uses Iterative Management Workflow approach;
- it allows to create iterations or sprints including tasks (tickets) of different priority;
- user-friendly dashboard provides one view of theentire project allowing to see the real time information for all the project stakeholders;
- it's good for the team collaboration including daily stand-up meetings and remote teams management;
- it automatically creates charts, including release burn-down, iteration burn-up, story type breakdown, and historical velocity;
- it is available for the iOS platform (iPhone andiPad) and so on.
The tool is recommended by many Agile evangelists including those using Kanban, Scrum Lean and XP. But it's not the only solution on the market. New solutions appear with new additional features. Comindware is a good example.
- creating and assigning tasks (auto-generated tasks from workflows andtraditional task lists created manually), setting up their priorities;
- project team collaboration which is very essential while managing remote and virtual teams;
- real time status reports including priority, deadline and other reports that are very helpful during daily stand-ups;
- customizable visual dashboard that is perfectly used not only to create all possible types of charts and graphs but also to provide visual information to project stakeholders;
- portfolio management feature allowing to manage multiple projects and generate aggregated reports;
- easy integration (if necessary) with the other tools like SalesForceCRM and MS Outlook.
The Comindware solution may be used as a cloud-basedservice (more cost-effective option) and as a on-premise software (to get the maximum control). It's really a good solution with plenty of different useful features that go far over just an Agile project management. But for those who feel that it's too flexible and has too many features there is a VersionOne.
- it allows to manage multiple projects and iterations at the same time;
- it allows to plan sprints and to manage requirements, user stories and epics using very user-friendly interface (I've even heard that some experts named VersionOne as the tool of the best usability);
- it may be used for the team collaboration (sharing files, ideas and messages);
- it allows to create visual burn-down charts, so as storyboards, trackboards,testboards;
- it may be connected with other tools used in software development projects like CruiseControl, Jira,
Bugzilla, TeamCity and etc. allowing better flexibility;
- it provides almost everything for a good reporting andanalysis because there are more than 50 agile metrics and reports, so as a custom analytics platform.
Instead of a conclusion:
Today we have so many software tools that even a very professional project manager may face a problem of choice. So, while choosing the best solution for your next Agile project don't forget the golden rule: a tool is nothing more than an instrument that has to serve the goals of your project and to help you and the team to be effective. As for me for my current projects I use MS Excel (simple on-site projects and to-do lists) and Comindware (middle-size and big projects, processes, managing remote teams).
Hi, my name’s Steward Copper and I am the owner of Project Management Insights. While working as a project coordinator and BA, I have tried almost all possible PM tools, BA instruments, collaboration programs, including tracker and hr system solutions. I also write for different blogs sharing my knowledge and observations.