Best Agile & Other Methods Software in 2018

Fast paced work environments require software solutions that facilitate and enable agile project management. Agile project management applications feature many of the traditional tools used in project management software, like task tracking or time and resource planning. In contrast to normal software, agile management applications incorporate popular approaches like Kanban, Scrum, Agile and Sprint, as well as a range of other Lean Management and Toyota Production System (TPS) methodologies. Visualizing agile workflows through Gantt charts, faster and more flexible adjustment options, better work coordination and issue tracking are some of the more specialized features in agile project management software.  Read the full software guide...


Agile & Other Methods Software Guide

What is Agile & Other Methods Software?

Software products in this category help project management (PM) teams to manage projects in their preferred PM methodology, be it Agile, Waterfall, Scrum, or Kanban.

For instance, agile project management software is designed to support an iterative approach to project management that helps teams respond to issues as and when they arise over the course of a project lifecycle.

Unlike the traditional Waterfall PM methodology where every step of the way is preplanned and must be taken in the sequence as initially planned, the agile method allows teams to work in small sessions and incorporate feedback loops into the workflow. That way, the project team can get feedback after each work session and plan the next session accordingly.

In order to help teams implement this iterative process, agile project management software usually comes with strong collaboration, progress visualization, issue tracking, and estimation capabilities. For instance, most products centralize project information and allow team members to view a project’s progress, identify bottlenecks, and review estimates through the timeline view.


Types of Agile & Other Methods Software

There are mainly two frameworks for implementing the agile project management methodology – scrum and kanban. Some agile software products are specially designed to support one particular framework, while products that support both scrum and kanban frameworks are also available. Here are the major types of agile and other methods software.

Scrum

Software designed to support the scrum framework helps agile teams work in small sessions known as sprints. A sprint session typically spans between two and four weeks.

The software uses scrum boards to help teams view a project’s progress. Most products also allow you to use labels and filters for workflow mapping, which helps team members understand where a task came from and what the next steps should be. More advanced products allow you to view reports on the team’s performance in the form of burndown charts and velocity charts.

Burn down charts provide a graphical representation of the work left versus the time left to complete that work, which helps you predict when the work will be completed. On the other hand, velocity charts show how closely the team has performed against the initial plan, which gives you a fair understanding of how much work the team can handle at a given timeframe and plan your future sprints accordingly.

Other key features of scrum software include @mentions, story-point estimation, and the ability to send status updates to team members.

Kanban

This type of software is designed to support the kanban framework, which is more flexible than the scrum framework. Originally developed by Toyota in the 1940s, kanban is a visual approach to project management where teams would show cards when they are ready to take on more work.

The software helps implement the kanban framework using the highly visual kanban boards. A kanban board represents either a project or a team. For instance, one board may show a project’s all tasks across departments, while another board may show a team’s all tasks across projects.

Each board contains lists or columns that represent workflows, and each list/column contains cards that represent individual tasks. Also, each card shows details of the task, including deadline, description, and time estimates. You can organize and assign cards (tasks) to team members according to your needs and drag and drop them between lists as they move through the workflow.

Columns or lists are typically categorized into three workflow stages, namely, “work in queue”, “work in progress”, and “recently completed”. Most products allow you to set work-in-progress (WIP) limits, which help teams avoid juggling between too many tasks and work in a continuous flow on a few open tasks until they complete them.

The software also calculates lead and cycle time to help you know how long your team took to complete a particular task.

Scrumban

As the term suggests, scrumban software helps agile teams implement either scrum or kanban on an as-needed basis or a hybrid of both frameworks. The software allows you to create your own unique process combining features from scrum and kanban. Most products come with a full range of agile features, including sprints, burn down and velocity charts, kanban boards, story cards, WIP limits, cumulative flow diagrams, and control charts.


How to Choose Agile & Other Methods Software

The first thing to do is identify what workflow pattern works best for your team and the type of projects they handle. Most construction projects, for instance, needs to have a set budget and timeline before the work starts. This type of project is change-adverse and their success depends on how well the team delivers against the initial plan. You can use any traditional project management tools to manage this type of project.

However, if the scope, budget, and requirements of your project are not set in stone, consider using agile project management software. For instance, software development teams often need to work in short cycles, so that they can incorporate feedback from the client or other team members over the life of a project.

Agile project management software supports this process of continuous improvement in many ways. For instance, the software centralizes all tasks, communications, and files of the project, helps teams view a project’s progress via scrum and kanban boards, and generates reports on the team’s productivity and performance.

Once you’ve decided to use the agile methodology for project management, the next step is to choose your preferred framework for implementing agile. As discussed above, you’ve mainly three options. Choose a software type accordingly.

Whether you should choose scrum or kanban software depends on your workflow patterns. Scrum is ideal for teams that prefer following a time-bound action plan. Scrum teams break down a project into small sessions and set a deadline for each session. For instance, once they plan how much work they want to complete in a two-week work cycle, they will stick to that plan for at least two weeks.

On the other hand, kanban software is perfect for teams that prefer working in a continuous flow. Instead of setting a deadline for each work item, they first complete a task and then calculate how much time it took to complete the task. Kanban teams can regulate their workflows using work-in-progress limits.

If your business operates within an industry where changes occur too often to let you stick to a plan for even two weeks, you should choose kanban software. For instance, marketing companies need to re-prioritize their goals almost every week, if not earlier.

If you are open for both scrum and kanban, or want to use a combination of the two methods, consider choosing scrumban software. You’ll also find products focused on just one area of agile project management. For instance, some products are specially designed to help scrum teams conduct asynchronous stand-up meetings.

Other key considerations when choosing PM software for agile teams include ease of use, task management, estimation, issue tracking, and integration capabilities.


Benefits of Agile & Other Methods Software

Products in this category benefit agile teams and their organizations in many ways, such as:

  • Resolve issues as they arise – Agile project management software helps agile teams view a project’s progress, identify areas that require immediate attention, and respond to issues as they arise.
  • Improve customer satisfaction – Most products allow you to share files with clients and customers and receive detailed feedback from them. Keeping customers engaged throughout the project lifecycle helps improve customer satisfaction.
  • Foster collaboration – The software helps improve collaboration by allowing teams to share files, view progress on shared boards, tag other members via @mentions, and set up alerts or notifications about deadlines or task re-prioritization.
  • Improve product quality – Agile project management software helps project teams incorporate regular testing into the product development process. This process of continuous testing and quality assurance helps to develop high-quality products.

Overall, agile and other methods software is beneficial for businesses looking to improve on their iterative approach to project management.


Common Features of Agile & Other Methods

API Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are programmatic intersections with external products or platforms that allow for custom integrations with your own solutions or other solutions you are using.
Calendar Management Manage and update calendars for scheduling or consolidation of events across teams, departments or business functions.
Dashboard Dashboards are digital interfaces commonly used to visualise data or give quick access to important features and functions of online platforms. They often serve as an overview gateway in software applications.
Data Export Exporting functionality can be used to streamline the migration of data sets and information across systems, platforms or applications.
Data Import Importing functionality allows you to use data sets from other systems or platforms to cut down on data entry requirements or to more easily migrate records from similar applications you have used in the past.
Data Visualization Data visualization features render a visual interpretation of data sets through the use of charts, infographics and other visual cues generally in form of a reporting dashboard.
External Integrations Integrations with other software products or platforms to improve efficiency and compatibility across systems.
Multi-User Supports more than just one user account and generally allows for collaboration with colleagues.
Notifications Includes notification support and sends you alerts with information on important events and other time sensitive instances. For example through push notifications on mobile phones or email notifications.
Scheduling Schedule tasks, resources, appointments, payments, communications, etc.

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