Agile, Project Management, Scrum

The #2 Agile Project Management Tool

Why would I write a post about the #2 Agile Project Management Tool and not #1? Because we all know that sticky notes, and physical Kan Ban board and team stand ups are obviously #1, right? I mean what tool could improve upon that? But in addition to the physical sticky notes, there are some other advantages that can be realized by using one of the many Agile Project Management tools out there.

Agile Project Management Tool Objectives

The additional value I think that can be realized are:

  1. Provide mechanism to manage a Virtual Kan Ban board and facilitate project and release planning.
  2. Provide a virtual, web-enabled Project Management tool that can be used by remote team members.
  3. Provide automated reports that can be used to report on project status, velocity, burn up, and burn down.
  4. Create a database of project estimates versus actuals that can be used to improve.

My Search

I know when I started looking around I was overwhelmed with the amount of tools out there. My purpose in writing this blog post is to provide the information that I wish I would have been able to find to help me with my choice back then. I have downloaded and installed each and every one of the five tools that I will be discussing. Now some of these tools I downloaded and evaluated a few months ago so the functionality may have changed somewhat. My apologies if certain aspects have changed, but these tools are all changing very quickly and it is almost impossible to keep up with all of them. 

The Candidates

The Agile Project Management Tools I evaluated were:

  1. Version One
  2. Rally
  3. Target Process
  4. Mingle
  5. Agile Zen

 The Rating Categories

I rounded the criteria down to 10 rating categories which I graded the candidates in each. I graded the candidates by a number from 0 to 3. The ratings were awarded based on my review at that time of the functionality. The review was what I would term to be an intermediate review. I tried to go into a good amount of depth, but I also did not have an inordinate amount of time to perform the review. As usual when I do review like this I fill out the numbers and let mathematics define the winner.

  • Internet-enabled (Private) – allows for all team members to remotely log in and review status
  • Virtual Kan Ban – provides a virtual Kan Ban board that all team members can view
  • Manage Physical Kan Ban – allows for the management of the physical Kan Ban board by printing cards and splitting stories
  • Iteration Planning – facilitates the planning and managing of Iterations
  • Release Planning – facilitates the planning and managing of Iterations and Releases
  • Project Planning – facilitates the planning and managing of Iterations, Releases, and Projects
  • Self Hosted – Allows for the client to host the tool. (Easily and with little additional effort or cost)
  • Workflow and Customization – provides workflow functionality and allowing for customization
  • Build Project History – allows for the retention of project estimates and actuals to improve
  • Reporting – provides canned reports to help to report on status.
  Version One     Rally Agile Zen Mingle Target Process
Web-enabled

3

3

3

3

3

Virtual Kan Ban

2

2

3

2

2

Manage Physical Kan Ban

3

3

3

3

3

Iteration Planning

3

3

1

1

3

Release Planning

3

3

1

1

3

Project Planning

3

3

1

1

3

Self Hosted

0

0

0

3

3

Workflow & Customizations

1

2

1

1

3

build project history

3

3

1

1

3

Reporting

3

3

1

1

3

           
Total

24

25

15

17

29

 

Notables

  • For what I needed out of the Agile Project Management Tools, Agile, Version One, and TargetProcess were at the head of the class. This is because they allow me to manage iterations with a Kan Ban board AND facilitate overall project planning as well.
  • AgileZen probably has the best Kan Ban board with a timer on the duration a story has been blocked. Very nice feature.
  • TargetProcess has a great feature to be able to easily split stories.
  • TargetProcess was the only one out of the big three that allowed me to EASILY host the solution. This was a key differentiator
  • TargetProcess had an excellent Workflow system with the ability to add custom fields and rename standard terminology in the system. Very cool.
  • TargetProcess also had a good suite of canned reports and a facility for me to create my own reports

In Summary

For my needs, TargetProcess was the clear winner. Any of these tools are great choices depending on what you need to do. But given that I needed to host my data and plan releases and the entire project, TargetProcess was a clear choice. It was also a huge benefit that I was provided the ability to customize the solution and workflow. I have learned to appreciate the power of the customization and workflow features and have used continued to increase my use of these features.

Re-posted from http://bornagainagilist.wordpress.com

About Terry Bunio

Terry Bunio is passionate about his work as the Manager of the Project Management Office at the University of Manitoba. Terry oversees the governance on Information Technology projects to make sure the most important projects are being worked on in a consistent and effective way. Terry also provides leadership on the customized Project Methodology that is followed. The Project Methodology is a equal mix of Prince2, Agile, Traditional, and Business Value. Terry strives to bring Brutal Visibility, Eliminating Information islands, Right Sizing Documentation, Promoting Collaboration and Role-Based Non-Consensus, and short Feedback Loops to Minimize Inventory to the Agile Project Management Office. As a fan of pragmatic Agile, Terry always tries to determine if we can deliver value as soon as possible through iterations. As a practical Project Manager, Terry is known to challenge assumptions and strive to strike the balance between the theoretical and real world approaches for both Traditional and Agile approaches. Terry is a fan of AWE (Agile With Estimates), the Green Bay Packers, Winnipeg Jets, and asking why?

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