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.

The Ideal Work Process Agile Tools
The Ideal Work Process Agile Tools

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:

Role diagram Agile Tools
Role diagram Agile Tools

Picture 2. Role diagram

The Agile management tools they used in their projects were:

  • Jira
  • TFS
  • Version One
  • Rally
  • Spreadsheet

Feature overview

  • Spreadsheet
  • Feature overview Atlassian Jira Agile Tools Atlassian Jira Agile Tools Rally software agile tools Visual Studio Agile Tools Google Docs Agile Tools
    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

    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/

    TeamCatalystEnterpriseUltimate10 user pack free20 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 VersionOne for Agile Tools

    VersionOne for Agile Tools screenshots
    VersionOne for Agile Tools screenshots

    VersionOne for Agile Tools screenshots
    VersionOne for Agile Tools 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 UsersLarge Enterprises, Mid-size Business, Non Profit Organizations, Public Administrations, Small BusinessSupported CountriesAsia, Australia, Canada, China, Europe, India, Latin America, Middle-East and Africa, United Kingdom, United StatesSupported LanguagesChinese (Traditional), Czech, Danish, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, SpanishSupport OptionsFAQs, Forum, Knowledge Base, Online Support, Phone Support, Video TutorialsCategoriesProject Management SoftwareProject Collaboration SoftwareIssue Tracking SoftwareAgile Project Management SoftwareStartup solutions SoftwareBug Tracking Software

    JIRA Pricing

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

    Cloud

    10 users15 users25 users50 users100 users500 users2,000 users$10/mo$25/mo$50/mo$100/mo$150/mo$250/mo$500/mo

    Server

    10 users25 users50 users100 users101+ users$10 Starter$600$1,100$2,000$4,000

    Pricing model: Subscription

    Free Trial: Available (No Credit Card required)

    Jira 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.

    Jira Atlassian for Agile Tools screenshots

    Jira Atlassian for Agile Tools screenshots
    Jira Atlassian for Agile Tools screenshots
    Jira Atlassian for Agile Tools screenshots
    Jira Atlassian for Agile Tools 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 for Agile Tools screenshots
    Rally Software for Agile Tools screenshots

    Rally Software Pricing

    Pricing model: Freemium, Subscription

    Community, Enterprise, Unlimited

    $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 $499

    Upgrade $399

    Pricing model:  Subscription, free 90 –days trial

    Screenshots

    TFS Software for Agile Tools screenshots
    TFS Software for Agile Tools screenshots

    TFS Software for Agile Tools screenshots
    TFS Software for Agile Tools 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 Agile Tools examples
    Google Docs Agile Tools examples
    Google Docs Agile Tools examples
    Google Docs Agile Tools examples

    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.