7 best Agile and Scrum Tools for Effective Project Management

Krishna Prasad AcharyaAgile & Scrum

How important is it for software developers to use Agile tools to create quality work that satisfies all of their client’s requirements? For the client, the process looks fairly simple; the requirement is given to the development team, funding is provided and they deliver the software.

And the process would be so simple if it wasn’t for the inevitable deviations that take place. Identifying the cause of the deviation is simple in a small project with a single team of 3 or 4 developers. But a project that has multiple large teams of developers working simultaneously with their individual deviations and that is a recipe for chaos if the management of the project is not controlled and streamlined.

Development is effective under the control of a number of factors such as:

  • Seamless communication between the client and the development team
  • Individual developers being optimally productive
  • Team of developers swiftly adapt to any changes that may be required
  • Remote resources being efficiently used
  • Delivering a stable product for release

An Agile management tool ensures all of the above are taken care of with precision, allowing developers to focus on what they do best – development!

Agile development is an iterative alternative to the waterfall process that requires to be completely mapped out from the word ‘go’.

Agile project management is flexible, swift and includes feedback for improvements. It breaks down the project in to phases that are incremental, allowing the team to work on each phase and deliver the project piecemeal.

The objectives of Agile project management are:

  • Reduce Waste
  • Provide opportunities to incorporate client feedback
  • Ensure continuous improvement of the product
  • Enhance the time to market for the client

These factors, that ensure a development team’s success, are incorporated in to the most widely accepted Agile framework, Scrum.

Scrum

This Agile framework is structured on collaborative work, involving frequent iterations, adapting best practices, in an environment of transparency. Scrum tools assist developers to improve workflow, reduce time and effort, and create a visual representation of the quantum of work, in every project iteration, for each team and individual developers.

Today, Scrum software available online are gaining popularity as they facilitate information sharing on real time basis, enhancing the collaboration between remote teams that are responsible for certain phases of the project.

These tools are responsible in addressing 3 critical areas of concern that every Agile development team faces:

  • Real-time metric management and reporting: A project has numerous metrics that are being tracked simultaneously across multiple teams doing individual phases of the project. A Scrum tool brings together all these metrics and reports them real-time.
  • Seamless communication: The multiple teams need a common source of communication to remove all ambiguity and commit the teams to sharing tasks, feedbacks and improvement best practices.
  • Assessing Performance: A common platform is the ideal way to identify progress of work of each team, the quality of its output, and their overall performance.

It is necessary to keep these 3 parameters in mind while selecting an Agile software. Here are 7 of the best Agile and Scrum tools for project management.

  1. Atlassian Jira

This is arguably recognized as the most popular product development tracking tool amongst the developer community. Atlassian Jira allows teams to assign work, track the activity of team and its individual members, and organizes issues to be systematically resolved. The add-on to this software, Jira Agile, is a facilitator for certain key agile strategies, such as creating sprint backlogs, user stories development, and visual interpretations of activities of the team, to name a few.

Today Atlassian Jira is in application across more than 120 countries and 25000+ users. Established brands, such as Skype, Hibernate, Apache Software Foundation and many more use Atlassian Jira.

A larger number of plug-ins are available on the Atlassian marketplace to scale -up the software. The workflows are customizable to align with the uniqueness of the procedures employed to create the product. The software has the ability to keep the developers always connected through a mobile app.

  1. Axosoft

Fomerly known as OnTime, Axosoft is a popular software development Scrum tool. It is a tool based on HTML5 and has a management dashboard with burn down charts, workloads, velocities and projections. The tool has workflows that are predefined. Using Kanban, Scrum, or even a customized workflow, developers can align to any and every kind of process. The Kanban drag and drop board is helpful in expediting work on incidents, defects or user stories.

Axosoft has an API that allows it to collaborate with external tools, such Salesforce, GitHub, Bugsnag, Visual Studio, Zendask and many more.

The tool has a customer centric approach and has a customer portal to inform the customer about the project, its wiki, development or release status.

  1. LeanKit

It is a cloud-based tool that uses the Kanban methodology to implement visual management of a project. It does not lay any restrictions to your way of working. Instead it allows the evolution of your process in any way you define it. It also allows the flexibility to alter the defined process when incidental changes occur.

LeanKit has a mobile app that functions on the iOS and the Android platform, to keep the stakeholders connected and informed about the project. The tool has a multi-tiered approach that lets you visualize strategy at a high level, and then drill down to the developers that execute the project, setting initiatives and timelines, while tracking output quality and schedule adherence of delivery.

  1. VersionOne

For development teams, VersionOne is a comprehensively complete project management tool. All the basic features of an Agile tool exist in it, including Kanban and Scrum methodologies. It has project boards for stories, issues, defects, goals and epics. It incorporates road maps, release plans and testing of projects.

The software collaborates with tools such as Conversations, which is a discussion and sharing forum. VersionOne has some very useful tools of its own. ‘Ideas’ is a tool where customer feedback and requests are managed. ‘TeamRoom™’ is for team interactions through taskboards and storyboards. The ‘PlanningRoom™’ is for planners, managers and project owners to integrate tools such as Portfolio Timelines and Epicboard to have better management of the project.

  1. Rally Software

It is a cloud-based agile software lifecycle management tool. Centered around organizational priorities, it ensures an efficient coordination between developers, managers and project planners. The focus is on prioritizing tasks to align with strategic plans set by the management of the company. Rally facilitates the involvement of all stakeholders of the project, including the customer, to contribute ideas, which are screened by top management and decided for inclusion in the project.

The tool lays great stress on cost and time management, restricting waste of both these resources. Rally assesses quality throughout the entire development process of the product with repetitive and iterative tools. This ensures zero defect products on completion.

  1. Pivotal Tracker

An Agile project management tool, it is story based and facilitates collaborative work between software as well as non-software teams involved in the same project. It enables ease of information sharing and delivery of real-time updates.

It works on the principle of ‘single view’, wherein all stakeholders of the project receive identical information on progress of the project. The dashboard is extremely user friendly and provides concise, yet comprehensive, information of the project, in a layout that is customizable. Points can be assigned to specific features, which help to accurately evaluate the project and determine its delivery on schedule.

Pivotal Tracker makes an attempt to keep all stakeholders of the project connected with a mobile app, which is restricted to the iOS and so can be used only on Apple handheld devices.

  1. Planbox Work

The Canadian company, Bolidea, initially developed this Agile project management tool for in-house use. However, in 2015 it released it for commercial use, and it now has over 32,000 users across the globe, including established brands such as Starbucks, Philips, Stanford University and the Salvation Army, to name a few.

A web-based Agile solution, Planbox Work is optimized to work on Safari, Firefox, Internet Explorer and Google Chrome. It is an easy-to-use, intuitive software, and doesn’t require you to be a whiz at Agile methodology. The software has a tutorial that guides you through each step till you get familiar with doing it all on your own.

Planbox Work has no limit to the number of project you can do on it. It’s a boon for developers; conducting work without having to worry about upgrading to higher limits. The tool also allows you to migrate to it from Pivotal Tracker by directly importing all your data, including Backlogs, iterations, sprints and more.

Conclusion

The trend is clear from the rapid pace in which Agile and Scrum tools have entrenched themselves in the environment of software development and project management. Agile is liked by all; be it the developers, product owners, or even the customer (though they may not know it, they still benefit from it in every project).

The success of a project lies in its agility to adapt to change, seamless collaboration of all stakeholders of the project, and satisfied customer with the exactness of the product and its timely delivery. The incorporation of an Agile methodology and Scrum project management tool becomes imperative to drive this success.

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About the Author
Krishna Prasad Acharya

Krishna Prasad Acharya

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Krishna Prasad Acharya possesses over 13+ years of experience in the IT industry. He started his career by managing Data Center environments and has vast experience in reducing IT maintenance costs, providing workable strategies and building teams for maximum effectiveness. His expertise lies mainly in the area of Service Support, Service Delivery, Quality management, Project Management and IT consulting. Some of the major projects undertaken by him are:

Greenfield projects (IT for new locations)
Datacenter Hosting & Consolidation projects
Service Desk implementation & Consolidation
IT Capacity Management (Process & Tool)
IT Continuity Management (Process & Tool)

On the personal front, he has a passion for cooking & has an orientation towards spirituality. In his free time, he is interested in learning new languages, exploring new travel destinations & following latest trends in IT.

LinkedIn: https://sg.linkedin.com/in/krishnaprasadacharya

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