Top Five Agile Management Tools

19 February 2015

…individuals and interactions over process and tools…

Agile Manifesto

Do software developers really need Agile management tools to produce quality products which satisfy clients’ requirements

To an outside observer, the development process may seem rather simple; teams receive requirements and funding and then release a working application.

Picture 1. The Ideal Work Process

In reality, this scenario is actually possible when a small team of up to three people releases new versions of the same application at certain intervals. To draw an analogy with a living organism, the release of every stable version can be considered a pulse. If the pulse is stable, that’s a good sign, but when it deviates from the norm, there’s always trouble afoot.

If the project in question is small, finding reasons for deviations is relatively quick and easy. Sadly, the same cannot be said about projects where several teams are concurrently working on the same system.

The effectiveness and quality of development depend on a whole range of factors:

  • The productivity of every separate developer;
  • The stability of a working version of the product on release;
  • The speed of adaptation to changes;
  • The use of remote resources;
  • The communication between the client and the developers.

Doubtlessly, an integral part of releasing a successful product is the competent organization of the working process, and that’s where Agile management tools can really help. The use of Agile management tools allows a client to receive a clear picture of how the team is coping with its assigned tasks and what the perspectives are for seeing a ready product by the end of a sprint/iteration.

Overview

There are currently over a hundred software management solutions on the market. Each one has its own array of functions which may be very helpful in some circumstances.

This article is an overview of the agile management tools, which were rated most popular in a poll held by the DataArt BA Centre of Competence.

The poll was taken by 39 people from 32 projects, their roles were as follows:

Picture 2. Role diagram

The Agile management tools they used in their projects were:

  • Jira
  • TFS
  • Version One
  • Rally
  • Spreadsheet

Feature overview
License Proprietary/Free community licenses for open source and academic projects Proprietary, hosted Proprietary/Free trial Proprietary, Commercial ICU license
Price Multiple price points/Free trial Multiple price points/Free trial Multiple price points/Free trial Multiple price points? Free
Platform Web-Based/Installed Web-Based Web-Based Web-Based/Installed Web-Based
Intended Users Freelancers, Large Enterprises, Mid Size Business, Non Profits, Public Administrations, Small Business Freelancers, Large Enterprises, Mid Size Business, Non Profits, Public Administrations, Small Business Freelancers, Large Enterprises, Mid Size Business, Small Business Large Enterprises, Mid Size Business, Small Business Freelancers, Small Business
Drag-and-drop Backlog Management Full support Full support Full support Full support No
Story points
Task board view Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Iteration burn down chart Yes Yes Yes Yes None
Epics (hierarchy of backlog items) Partial support Full support Partial support Partial support None
Rollups support Partial support Full support Partial support Partial support None
Release and Iteration Planning and Tracking Partial support Full support Full support Full support Partial support
Product Roadmapping (multiple releases) None Full support Full support None Partial support
Multiple products/ projects Full support Full support Full support Full support Partial support
Portfolio planning None Full support Full support Partial support None
Test Management (Acceptance and Regression) Partial support Full support Full support Full support Partial support
Automated Notifications of Changes to System Assets Email Email Email Email No
Impediment tracking None Full support Full support Full support Partial support
Defect Tracking Partial support Full support Full support Full support Partial support
User roles None PO, SM, Team Member, Stakeholder, plus custom roles. SM, PO, Team Member. None No
Integration, API(s), SDK Yes(REST API) SDK.Java, SDK.NET, SDK.Python, SDK.Javascript SDK.Java, SDK.NET, SDK.Ruby, SDK.Nodejs SDK.Java, SDK.NET SDK.Java, SDK.NET
Support Email/Phone Community Website Email/Phone Community Website Email/Phone Community Website Email/Phone Community Website Forums
Service None Training and Certification None Training and Certification None
User docs **** ** ** ** ***
Usability *** ** *** *** ***
Pros Big community, Multi –language support, 600+ plugins and add-on, mobile Free trial for up to 10 users
Supports collaboration for cross-functional teams
Robust planning abilities; tracking Epics, Stories and Projects
Supports collaboration for cross-functional teams
Provides story and feature roll-up for enhanced program and portfolio management Includes integrated defect management
Useful features for managing agile processes Good tool for small teams and small processes
Cons Poor backlog, sprint management tools
Lacks burndown and resource reporting
Complex User Interface
Not mobile ready
Higher learning curve needed to understand all features
Complex User Interface
Requires additional process for linking stories and features to higher-level portfolio items
Lacks configurable out-of-the-box reporting
It is desirable to use other Microsoft tools for development Manual work

VersionOne

URL: http://www.versionone.com/

Key Features of VersionOne

  • Agile Portfolio Management
  • Reporting & Analytics
  • Product Planning
  • Product Roadmapping
  • Release Planning
  • Idea Management
  • Sprint Planning
  • Test Management
  • Tracking
  • Collaboration
  • Review
  • Open Integration Platform

Overview of VersionOne

An all-in-one agile management tool for projects and teams of any size.

VersionOne helped pioneer the agile management tool in 2002 – way before it was the cool thing to do in the software development market. Today they remain the only enterprise software company that has been 100% dedicated to agile life cycle management since day one.

VersionOne Pricing

http://www.versionone.com/pricing_and_editions/

Team Catalyst Enterprise Ultimate
10 user pack free 20 user pack($175/month) $29 user/month $39 user/month

Pricing model: Freemium

Free trial provided for any premium subscription.

Benefits

Leverage a single system for planning and tracking all of your epics, stories, themes, defects, tasks, tests and issues. VersionOne gives you unparalleled visibility across multiple teams, projects and agile portfolios, providing a centralized environment where all your stakeholders – executives, managers, product owners, developers, and testers – can easily work together regardless of location.

Screenshots

JIRA

Key Features of JIRA

  • Project Tracking
  • Agile, Scrum, Kanban
  • Project Planning
  • Issue Tracking,
  • Code Integration
  • Service Desk
  • Mobile
  • Custom Workflow
  • OpenSocial Gadgets
  • Reporting
  • Connection to LDAP and Active Directory
  • Bug Tracking
  • Git Integration
  • 1000’s of Add-ons
  • On Demand or Hosted
  • Free for Open source projects
  • eMail Notifications

Overview of JIRA

JIRA is the tracker of choice for teams planning and building great products. Thousands of teams choose JIRA to capture and organize issues, assign work, and follow team activities. At the desk or on the go with the new mobile interface, JIRA helps your team get the job done.

Bug tracking: Simple and flexible defect tracking integrated with your source code and development environment to fit the way you work.

Project tracking: Manage all of your projects in one place to focus on the task at hand without ever losing sight of the big picture.

Software development: After version control, JIRA is the single most important application at the centre of your development team.

Agile: Over 6,300 JIRA customers have gone agile with JIRA Agile. Make your agile adoption successful with presets for scrum and Kanban, and turbocharge JIRA to improve visibility.

With JIRA, there’s no shortage of ways to stay in the loop. Whether you prefer to receive updates via email, chat, or by checking in on your mobile device, JIRA has you covered.

Issues are everywhere: Tasks, ideas, and requests are hiding in documents, people’s heads, and deep in your inbox. Use JIRA to capture and organize your team’s issues, prioritize and take action on what’s important, and stay up to date with what’s going on around you. JIRA makes all of this easy, so your team can spend less time managing the work and more time building great software.

Work the way you want: Your process is at the heart of everything you do. Don’t shoehorn your team’s work into the default workflow defined by your project tracker. JIRA has workflows to match your existing processes, which you can easily adapt as your team evolves. Use the tool that fits your team, don’t change your team to fit the tool.

Productive, powerful planning: Teams that need to be effective and efficient choose JIRA to help them capture, assign, and prioritize their work. Ensure that everyone on your team knows exactly what needs to be done and when, then watch the job get done flawlessly. And when you add the power of agile to JIRA – with the JIRA Agile add-on – you can even plan agile sprints!

Collaborate easily: On any team, it’s important that people can easily share information and reach out for help when they need it. JIRA’s simple, intuitive interface allows you to collaborate with teammates and get the job done more efficiently. If you think that’s awesome, you’ll love it even more when you combine JIRA’s @mentions and assignment features with the power of Confluence and HipChat.

Visibility at the speed of light: Watch the issues that are most important to you, monitor activity streams, and share information with powerful dashboards, wallboards, and more. With JIRA, you’ll always know what’s going on.

Collect, service, and report: With JIRA Service Desk, the JIRA platform becomes a modern, flexible service desk experience that streamlines customer requests and boosts your IT team’s efficiency.

Agile project management: These days, just keeping track of your work isn’t enough – you’ve got to be agile. JIRA Agile adds agile project management to the power of JIRA.

Specifications

Intended Users Large Enterprises, Mid-size Business, Non Profit Organizations, Public Administrations, Small Business
Supported Countries Asia, Australia, Canada, China, Europe, India, Latin America, Middle-East and Africa, United Kingdom, United States
Supported Languages Chinese (Traditional), Czech, Danish, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish
Support Options FAQs, Forum, Knowledge Base, Online Support, Phone Support, Video Tutorials
Categories Project Management SoftwareProject Collaboration SoftwareIssue Tracking SoftwareAgile Project Management SoftwareStartup solutions SoftwareBug Tracking Software

JIRA Pricing

https://www.atlassian.com/software/jira/agile

Cloud

10 users 15 users 25 users 50 users 100 users 500 users 2,000 users
$10/mo $25/mo $50/mo $100/mo $150/mo $250/mo $500/mo

Server

10 users 25 users 50 users 100 users 101+ users
$10 Starter $600 $1,100 $2,000 $4,000

Pricing model: Subscription

Free Trial: Available (No Credit Card required)

Benefits

Agile at Scale

Scrum and Kanban improve project success and deliver value iteratively. JIRA and JIRA Agile scale Agile across your organization. JIRA also integrates with GitHub to link issues to commits.

Industry Leading Workflow Engine

Don’t let your issue tracking software dictate your process. With JIRA’s workflow engine you can easily build the process that fits your team.

Polished User Experience

Create, update, and work through issues using a fast and intuitive web interface with lightning-quick keyboard shortcuts.

Flexible Dashboards

Create a personalized view of JIRA. Share dashboards to track project status, create custom reports, and monitor team wallboards.

Powerful Searching and Reporting

Use JIRA’s Query Language (JQL) with simple autocomplete to build advanced queries. Create a personalized view of JIRA and share dashboards to track project status, create custom reports, and monitor team progress with wallboards.

Deployment Options

Simple Windows and Linux installers are available for an OnPremise solution, or you can get started hassle-free with JIRA OnDemand. Easily switch between OnPremise or OnDemand as your organization evolves.

Integrate with Everything

Get more from JIRA with flexible REST and Java APIs – plus over 600 plugins and add-ons in the Atlassian Marketplace– to connect with the applications and tools you use every day.

Screenshots

Rally Software

Key Features of Rally Software

  • Unlimited Edition
  • Enterprise Edition
  • Community Edition
  • Rally Apps

Overview of Rally Software

Rally Software is a Project Management tool that uses agile and lean methods to assist businesses through the software development process. With a dedicated focus on agile techniques, Rally helps software businesses of all sizes incrementally take up practices that shorten their development cycles and collaborate across distributed teams and silos.

Influenced by Agile and Lean principles, Rally presents the first Agile Portfolio Management solution. Agile portfolio management lets you continuously:

  • Keep in touch and collaborate with your stakeholders to refine ideas that drive innovation
  • Rally lets you prioritize work according to its value and support of the strategic vision
  • Reduce the time to respond to market feedback and alter funding strategies
  • Reallocate development resources to maximize portfolio growth
  • Improve fact-based governance for sound trade-off decisions

Screenshots

Rally Software Pricing

Pricing model: Freemium, Subscription

Community Enterprise Unlimited
10 user, 5 projects $35 user/month $49 user/month

FREE for up to 10 users

Benefits

  • Value-driven prioritization
  • Development aligned with portfolio investment plans
  • Business view of Agile development status
  • Realistic roadmaps
  • Fact-based governance

TFS

Key Features

  • Version Control
  • Agile Planning & Collaboration
  • Build
  • Test Case Management
  • Reporting

Manage your repositories, build processes, testing infrastructure, and lab deployment all while easily collaborating and reporting status. Team Foundation Server supports your team so you can connect, collaborate, and deliver on time. Created to get more out of development teams, Team Foundation Server (TFS) 2013 is the application lifecycle management hub for Visual Studio. It enables all stakeholders to participate in the development process using a single solution. Use it to manage heterogeneous projects and teams as well. Create your software faster with Team Foundation Server 2013.

Version Control

Check-in, check-out, manage versions, or use diff/merge to collaborate and maintain control of your team’s projects. Support for centralized (Team Foundation Version Control) or distributed (Git) version control in Team Foundation Server gives your team the flexibility to use the version control technology that works for them.

Agile Planning & Collaboration

Adopt agile practices at your own pace using templates for Scrum, Agile, or CMMI®. You can also download third party process templates or create your own. Collaborate with all project stakeholders throughout the development process with work items, Kanban boards, and feedback requests so that everyone involved with a project can be integrated into the workflow.

Build

Catch bugs and other quality issues earlier in development. Set up continuous integration using builds to validate code on clean configurations and integrate tests for extra assurance. Stay up-to-date on the latest build health from your project home page or within Visual Studio.

Web-based Test Case Management

Continue to drive quality wherever you are through web access for Test Case Management. Author and execute test cases remotely, making it easier for all members of your team to participate in test case reviews. You can also profile your unit tests to create better code by tracking the end to end flow of your code, including the unit test itself.

Reporting

Track work items using reporting in Team Foundation Server 2013 to generate reports based on the current state of work. Query or create Work Item favorites to quickly get the information you need.

TFS Pricing

Buy Upgrade
$499 $399

Pricing model: Subscription, free 90 –days trial

Screenshots

Google Docs

Features

  • Product backlog, burndown and sizing
  • Sprint backlog and burndown
  • Impediments backlog
  • Burndown chart, team velocity

We created this template for teams to jump-start their Scrum projects. Simplicity. It is the main advantage of this management tool. A big variety of free templates help teams to jump-start their Scrum projects quicker. As no installation of hardware or software is required, Google Docs are excellent for distributed teams, letting them work in real time on the same backlog file.

Screenshots

Google Docs Pricing

Pricing model: Free (1GB of disk space)

Conclusion

Choosing an agile tool suitable for managing your particular processes is no easy task. When you begin to approach it, it is imperative that you have a clear understanding of the following:

  • How big the team is going to be (how many people are going to use the product)?
  • Are any developers working remotely?
  • How well does the product scale if the number of users is increased?
  • How flexible is the company’s pricing policy?
  • How do you implement the chosen tool and what level of technical support can be expected?
  • Will the decision be independent? If not, what infrastructure is needed to reach it?

All of the products we looked at above (apart from Google Docs) provide a free trial period. In that time, a team can try out the tool, check how it functions in a real project, see how well its functions match the project’s needs, and how they help the development and planning processes.

To sum up, VersionOne and Rally provide the widest array of instruments for managing Agile projects. These instruments help clients keep track of your progress and monitor what obstacles the team needs to overcome by providing important reporting mechanisms. Nowadays, developers in many teams work remotely and these tools also help make working in such teams as comfortable as possible. Microsoft’s TFS isn’t too far behind its competitors and its benefits are best seen when using other products from Microsoft.

Atlassian Jira is fit for project management and bug tracking and the availability of a large amount of plugins and add-ons lets users customize and optimize the management process to fit their exact needs.

Google Docs is an effective tool for small teams with relatively simple processes. Its main advantage is ease of use and handling.

We hope that this review will help you make the best choice to suit your needs.


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