If you are looking to get started with Agile, you will need the right project management tools. Certain software does lend itself to this methodology, but Agile by nature is not rigid, so features from several PM-products could be used for Agile teams.
Let us look at six essential software features.
1. Progress Visualization
Overlapping with the Kanban methodology, having projects represented visually makes it much easier to see where each member of the team is with their projects. Visual progress tools are common in many project management products and make it easier to identify bottlenecks.
Be sure to vet this feature carefully. It needs to be versatile, so your team is not limited by the structure of the software’s visualization, such as a Gantt chart.
2. Issue Tracking
Working in combination with progress visualization, issue tracking allows the team to easily tell which parts of the project require immediate attention, and which parts have been completed. Issue tracking will be used more by software development teams than by non-IT teams but can help manage any type of revision-related work.
Depending on the nature of your team and project, you will want to look for different types of collaborative tools. Team wikis serve as a great tool for quickly centralizing any documents attached to specific projects on the board. This eliminates the redundancy of email chains and makes it easier to find relevant information.
Strong collaboration tools should be a hallmark of any Agile-specific software. One of the main focuses of the Agile manifesto is putting “individuals and interactions over processes and tools.”
To stay agile (yes, puns), you will need to eliminate barriers to the information your team needs. Employee collaboration is often used in other PM methodologies but is particularly vital in Agile.
To set accurate requirements and control scope creep, project managers need to use estimation tools to calculate how long each iteration (or sprint if you are utilizing Scrum) will take. Gathering accurate estimations helps PMs create a base of historical data from which to forecast future projects.
Estimation tools also help in an immediate sense too. Reacting to change is a central tenet of Agile, so by updating estimates after every release or sprint, PMs can stay on top of deadlines and adjust accordingly.
5. Customer portal
How can development teams receive feedback on their development if customers cannot access the software?
Having a customer development portal allows project managers to conduct software walkthroughs, and helps customers provide more detailed feedback that can be translated directly into actionable tasks.
Instead of waiting to receive feedback after weeks of development, teams can ask for feedback as soon as possible. While Agile is flexible enough to accommodate last-minute requirements changes, it is always better to adjust priorities as soon as possible.
6. Project Portfolio
Agile’s focus on team collaboration and individual contribution means it can be difficult to scale. It can become cumbersome to respond to change quickly as the number of moving parts and interdependent skill sets grows. It can also be hard to prioritize individuals over tools as the very nature of scaling requires organizations to adopt tools that replace individual interactions.
By having quick access to your entire portfolio of projects, PMs will be better able to jump between projects and ensure estimates are still accurate.
Agile seeks to eliminate many of the redundant processes that too often imbed themselves in project workflows. It is not the right solution for every team, or industry, but can result in higher ROI, and faster time-to-market when implemented correctly.