A working model using mission-driven measures in a team approach enables focus on effective solutions.
At present the market is ready to offer loads of books about Agile. They are different but have one common thing: they all tell us what to do but very seldom give us tools for realizing these goals. The questions ‘What tool do you use?” inevitably arises any time when 5-6 developers or managers gather in one place. And each time this meeting turns to an active discussion on strengths and weaknesses of various tools.
Over the last few years the market of project management tools, especially for Agile and Kanban teams, has been overcrowded with various solutions – you can find both the simplest tools for visualization (task boards) and serious tools for the complete Scrum and Kanban support.
What does complete support for Scrum and Kanban mean?
For Agile methodologies, in particular for Scrum, it means:
- convenient work with backlogs
- visualization of user stories and tasks on the interactive board with a possibility to drag tasks between statuses (from one column to another)
- making release and iteration plans
- drawing burndown charts for each iteration
- changing the velocity and using it for planning releases and iterations
For Lean tools, in particular for Kanban, it means:
- convenient work with the task queues (epics, stories, requests, bugs)
- visualization of stories and tasks on the interactive board with a possibility to drag tasks between statuses (from one column to another)
- implementing and tracking limitations on the number of the work performed simultaneously by the team (WIP, Work In Progress)
- changing LeadTime, CycleTime
- drawing cumulative flow diagrams
And now try to find such tool for your team and for free. I guess you’ll fail in this task, especially if your company is big and the number of team members is bigger. As a rule, most vendors introduce the limitation to 5 users for free versions.
Let’s have a look at some most common Agile project management tools available in the market and see how they realize our requirements mentioned above. Although the number of such tools is great (TrackStudio, Redmine, Jira+GreenHopper, Comindware Tracker, Basecamp, Goplan, Zoho Projects, Devprom, etc.), I’d like to pay more attention to some of them – Devprom and Jira which I have some experience working with.
Devprom is a software lifecycle management system aimed at developing and supporting effective Agile development processes.
- standardization of company’s development processes – management of requests (user stories, precedents), versions, releases, iterations, requirements, technical and testing documentation, working plan formation, resource accounting;
- access to the project status – users can access the application from any part of the world, wherever the participants of the project are located;
- close collaboration between team members;
- transparency of processes and knowledge exchange inside the company – Wiki-tools let gather all the information on the project in one place, for example, test plans and scenarios, project database, technical tasks and requirements, technical and reference documentation, etc. You can also find all the reports on the project: working plans, reports on the executed tasks, results of tests and changes to the initial code, etc.;
- Agile project management (Scrum, XP) – you can take advantage of the main Agile practices: issue backlogs, burndown diagrams, time boxing, velocity;
- managing ‘classical’ projects on developing and implementing turnkey systems (MSF, RUP);
- building ALM/SDLC solutions on the company’s level.
GreenHopper from Jira is another ideal tool for planning, managing, tracking, and viewing the results of your team’s work, even if you are new to this business and only are getting acquainted with Agile methodologies, in particular Scrum.
GreenHopper is a collaboration system for performing tasks within business processes or projects. The system lets work on several projects simultaneously, divide them into iterations, customize any types of tasks, connect tasks between each other, assign tasks to individuals, establish the roles for the participants of the projects, generate various reports, and so on. The system doesn’t require installation on working places. It can be accessed via a web browser.
scalability – the system is scalable and suitable both for small and big companies;
- bug tracking;
- project support and maintenance;
- task tracking;
- project requirement and task management;
- business process management.
The choice of the system for managing your software development projects depends on many factors, such as the number of projects you are going to have at a time, the number of participants of the project, and, of course, your budget since some of the products are free, others are paid.
How do you choose the tools for managing your software development projects? Share your experience with us.
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Chuck Morrison, MBA, PMP
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