Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Agile project management tools- present and future

Recently we did a presentation on the present and future of Agile project management tools at the Richmond Agile User group event. We had a great conversation with the participants. Thanks to Tania Broome and Roney Pate for inviting us to speak to the group. Here is a gist from the session:

1. Simple tool- whiteboard/corkboard + cards/stickies + marker is the best tool for a single co-located team and  online spreadsheet (e.g., Google Spreadsheet) with Scrum template for a single distributed team.
2. For long-term sustainable efficient software development, "purpose built" agile project management tool is a necessity.
3. A team new to Agile, should start with the simple tool available, and once have a good feel for what Agile development is all about, should move to a software-based tool.
4. Tools good for Scrum, may not be good for Kanban, since they use different control and tracking mechanisms. ScrumPad supports Scrum. If you are looking for a pure Kanaban tool, we recommend that you look into AgileZen (recently got acquired by Rally Software).
5. Tools are for making things easier and hence making teams more efficient.
6. Tools are not for replacing human interaction and conversation.
7. Tools are not for making poor implementation of Agile better.

Tools conversation has always found passionate voices on the both sides of the aisle in the agile community. Many agile experts like Ron Jeffries have been very vocal about only using "simple tool." Here is a recent debate between Ron and Ryan Martens of Rally Software summarized on InfoQ.

Here are the presentation slides from our session:

 All skepticisms aside, a tool goes a long way if we are aware of what tools are for.

Are you using any PM tool for managing your Agile projects? What tool? What have your experiences been using such a tool?