Agile is everyone’s favorite project management and delivery buzzword, but what agile tools can you use to help successfully run an agile project? In this agile tools comparison article, we’re going to explore some of our favorite agile development tools and options for agile project management.
What Is Agile And Scrum Methodology?
Agile isn’t actually a methodology at all, but a set of principles for developing software. The principles of agile are:
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
- Working software over comprehensive documentation
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Scrum is a methodology with a set of principles and a process to improve delivery. In software development, Scrum is one of the most popular frameworks applying the principles of agile. The goal is to improve communication, teamwork and speed of development. Sprints, Scrums, backlogs and burndowns are all parts of Scrum.
Read more about Agile, Scrum, and other popular PM approaches in our post on project management methodologies.
What Are Agile Tools?
Agile tools are project management tools designed to support an agile methodology, whether it’s Scrum, Kanban, Scrumban, or other hybrid agile methods.
Managing agile projects can be tough, so niche tools for agile projects can be super helpful to help us manage the madness. While agile elevates the idea of self-organizing and self-managing teams in software development, within agencies, there’s arguably still a role for project managers in managing the project more holistically—and when budgets and deliverables are in play, managing the budget burn.
When running agile projects in agencies, internally the project management role is often a team lead role, or Scrum Master, facilitating the team, obtaining resources for it, and protecting it from problems. Externally, the project management role is managing the client’s (or product owner’s) interface with the project, ensuring everyone is on the same page with regards to requirements, prioritization, budgets, and timeline as well as reporting.
What Are The Tools Used In Agile Methodology?
Tools used in agile methodology can be used in various ways depending on how you’re carrying out your agile-oriented approach. Your tools might include:
- Backlogs: Prioritize and re-prioritize user stories and bugs with drag-and-drop backlog cards.
- Kanban or Scrum boards: Visualize all the user stories with cards displaying the tasks, assignees, and statuses in a sprint.
- Task swim lanes or columns: Separate epics, assignees, projects (etc) by moving drag-and-drop cards across lanes.
- Workflows: Create custom workflows that update issues automatically based on specific events.
- Sprints: Use the backlog to estimate stories and set sprint tasks and priorities for sprints.
- Daily Scrums or Standups: Use the dashboard to get a snapshot of progress in order to prepare for Scrums or Standups.
- Burndown chart: Manage progress by tracking the total work remaining in the sprint or epic.
- Velocity chart: Track your team’s velocity and make accurate forecasts by tracking the amount of work completed in each sprint.
Criteria For Choosing Agile Tools
The best agile tools supply the following most important elements for agile project management. I’ve looked at these features when evaluating the best agile tools in this review:
- Task management – Kanban or Scrum boards with projects, task lists and everything else that goes with it – from files and discussions to time records and expenses.
- Team collaboration – Communicate updates with local and distributed teams, and share task lists, feedback, and assignments
- Agile metrics, reporting & analytics – Time tracking and projection, easy-to-understand progress reports for stakeholders, quality assurance, and progress with tools to identify and remedy project obstacles, evaluate performance, and appraise financials
- Integrations – How well does this play with other tools you’re using – it needs plugins to extend the functionality or at least an open API.
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What Are The Best Agile Tools?
Although there are dozens of great agile PM tools out there, here’s the list of agile project management tools that we evaluate in this review:
- Clarizen – https://www.clarizen.com/
- Zenhub – https://www.zenhub.com/
- Jira – https://www.atlassian.com/software/
- GitScrum – https://site.gitscrum.com/
- Taiga – https://taiga.io/
- Pivotal Tracker – http://www.pivotaltracker.com/
- Nostromo – https://nostromo.io/
- Hansoft – http://info.perforce.com/
- Blossom – https://www.blossom.co/
- Ravetree – https://www.ravetree.com/
10 Agile Project Management Tools
Everyone loves the idea of agile tools and agile development but what are they exactly? There are an incredible number of agile tools and options. Perhaps even too many. Everyone likes to manage their projects slightly differently so it’s important to try some tools to find what works for you.
1. Clarizen – http://www.clarizen.com/
Clarizen is an enterprise grade professional services automation software solution, designed to speed up the way you do business – integrating work, content and process tightly together to enable more efficient working. Clarizen’s real focus is making projects happen faster with timesaving workflows. Clarizen is a great project management tool if you have lots of repeatable projects that require repeatable processes as the workflow automation is pretty flexible and powerful.
It covers off the PPM basics of task lists, schedules, docs and files, communications and reporting without breaking a sweat. Clarizen’s project planning tools are a powerful mix of functionality across the planning, executing and controlling of a project. Within planning are project workflows, a full featured resource, schedule and task planning tools, with project and portfolio optimization so that you can easily and quickly align projects to business objectives.
For project execution, Clarizen enables everyone on the team to be aligned with a dashboard that enables teams to work better together and see how their contribution fits into the bigger picture – from the project timeline and milestones, to budget, project discussions, and sharing documents.
Instead of being obligated to make educated guesses, project managers can make accurate data-based decisions that align project selection and investment with big picture priorities. Changing tasks and schedules takes a few clicks, and project managers can run hypothetical scenarios to proactively see the impact of resource changes before they go live, and alert end users via their personal dashboard of any changes to their workload. Because resource scheduling is built-in, Clarizen delivers real-time insights into all available resources, schedules and tasks.
Clarizen has some really powerful integration options out the box that are worth considering if you’re have other business-critical systems already in place. You can combine the power of Clarizen with other enterprise tools including Jira, SharePoint, Tableau, Salesforce and Intaact, among others with subscription to an App integration so you don’t have to play around with the API’s yourself. As well as the enterprise tool integrations possible, Clarizen has an App marketplace to add additional functionality into the system including helpful add-ons like active directory sync, Excel reporting integration and priority automation – many of which are free.
2. ZenHub – https://www.zenhub.com/
What differentiates ZenHub is that it’s designed to work in a GitHub environment and as such it is promoted as a way for teams working in GitHub to manage tasks without disrupting their workflow. Overall, ZenHub is a user-friendly and workable alternative to Trello, with the functionality to migrate data, automate workflows, and integrate with other tools. If you are using GitHub, ZenHub is the sensible choice—not only is it likely to be familiar to your developers, it theoretically can save your team a lot of time by eliminating the need to jump in and out of GitHub to manage tasks in third party tools.
Zenhub costs from $5/user/month and is available in a free trial version for 14 days.