Ensuring your project gets delivered on time and on the budget can make or break your company. Projects that overrun don’t just affect the bottom line. Delayed projects can impact morale, productivity and in some cases cause employees to leave due to stress!
This is where project management tools come into play. Project management tools can help give you visibility of the current state of play on your project, they can also help you identify who’s overworked, who has the capacity for more work and how long your project will take to complete. From a technical perspective, they can also help you track bugs and further refine your software development process.
In this blog post, we look at tools that can help you better manage your projects, specifically, we look at the 10 best Agile Project Management tools in 2018. Specifically, we look at the following:
- Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS)
- Active Collab
What is Agile Development
Before we look at the 10 best Agile Project Management Tools, first a quick reminder of what the Agile methodology is.
As a term “Agile Development” is an umbrella description for a collection of iterative and incremental software development methodologies, some of which include, but are not limited to:
- Extreme Programming (XP)
- Behaviour Driven Development (BDD)
- Feature-Driven Development (FDD)
Whilst each of these agile methodologies has its own specific approach, they all share a common vision and set of values (read the Agile Manifesto for more details on that). Ultimately, at the heart of each methodology is the concept of iterations and continuous feedback.
All of which helps businesses refine and improve their processes and, at the same time, making it easier to adapt to situations as they arise.
This often involves continuous planning, continuous testing, continuous integration, and other forms of continuous evolution of both the project and the software. The concepts in Agile are very lightweight, especially when compared to traditional waterfall-style processes and as such, Agile is very adaptable.
Now, onto the 10 best Agile Project Management Tools in 2018!
The whole point of using a project management tool is to help you successfully manage and deliver your project on time and on (or even under!) budget. Trello is one of the simplest tools out there that can help you achieve this.
It’s based around the concept of Cards and Lists (you can think of these as categories), you start off with 3 default Lists (To Do, Doing and Done) which you can easily remove or may even decide to create new ones.
After you’ve created your lists, you can then add Cards which document the functionality or changes that you need to make in your project. When in the Card detail, Trello lets you assign the Card to the relevant resource, assign estimates or completion dates and much more!
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Social Media giant Twitter even use Trello to let the user community know which features are currently in their product Backlog!
You can even get started with a FREE account which will help you get to grips with this simple tool, why not check out Trello today!
Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS)
If you’re heavily invested in the Microsoft Stack, Visual Studio Team Services (or VSTS) is an excellent project management tool. I use it on daily basis, its integration with Visual Studio is fantastic, some of the features include, but are not limited to:
- TFS and Git Support
- Customizable dashboards and Kanban boards
- Full software lifecycle management through Backlogs
- Continuous integration
- Total traceability from initial requirements through to build, test and release using Work Items, Tasks, and Bugs
- Code management (branching, merging code etc.)
As a project management tool, it gives you the functionality you need to help manage your software project effectively, it’s easy to use and free for up to 5 users. From a developers perspective, it makes your life simpler by giving you full traceability of code changes. You can find out more about VSTS here.
JIRA has been around for a while now is a tool that’s ideal for agile enthusiasts, in fact, the original team of developers behind JIRA gave serious thought to designing the perfect tracking tool for businesses that employ agile management!
From ideation and requirements to build and support, through its intuitive interface, JIRA has your business covered and with its high levels of customization, you can rest assured the JIRA can accommodate even the most distinctive Agile workflows.
With companies such as Leidos and Macmillan Learning using JIRA, it’s a product that can not only just be used by SMEs but also by larger companies in the enterprise. JIRA is also a globally used product being used by thousands of companies in the USA, UK, and Canada to name a few.
Ever needed to close out or maintain a sprint in your Agile workflow but the person is on PTO or off sick? Your options can be limited but don’t worry, the team at JIRA know that the best agile teams are cross-functional and as such, lets you assign teams permissions as opposed to project admins.
Find out more about JIRA here.
Another great contender in the Agile Project Management software world is Axosoft. As well as being able to track bugs, Axosfot also lets software development teams that are keen on the SCRUM framework better plan their projects. It has a vast array of tools that developers need to empower them to help build and ship features that are bug-free, on budget and on schedule.
Axosoft makes it easy to plot each step of your agile workflow and at the same time, the collaboration between agile team’s members is made seamless. Like some of the other tools that we’ve mentioned, everything is centralized and transparent thereby ensuring that everyone in the team is on the same page which helps keep your agile team running smoothly.
Axosoft lets your team schedule releases, define steps and manage sprints to completion and with the “Daily Scrum Mode” feature, project managers, Scrum Masters and other team members can see who is assigned to what tasks and how much progress has been made.
Asana is one of the best task management products out there, it allows your team to share, plan and track the progress of tasks that members of your team are working on. Its free for up to 30 users per team which is great to get started with and its simple interface makes it easy to get up to speed quickly.
Like other products we’ve discussed, the main use case for Asana is to let your business manage projects and tasks. One thing that’s a little different with Asana is that you don’t even need an email address to use it!
You use Asana by creating a Workplace, in your workplace, you can then add projects with multiple tasks. Within each task, you can add notes, comments, attachments and labels/tags. Whether you’re running a start-up or established business, Asana has you covered.
Originally a CRM tool, ZOHO now ships with a set of agile projects management tools under the brand Zoho Sprints! Zoho Sprints contains the following features:
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- Live Feed
The product allows you to create sprints and respective backlog items through its drag-and-drop planning center. You can further break down the nuances of each user story through epics, add estimation points, define priorities and assign tasks to your team.
Zoho Sprint helps smoothen release management by letting you set reminders and durations for each sprint. Timesheet function lets your team log billable and non-billable hours for every work item, further helping you stick to your budget!
For a quick overview of your projects, the Dashboard feature lets you view work item completion status, see the top five users for both closed and open work items, and get a comprehensive sprint activity chart, among other things.
Another one to make our top 10 best agile project management tools is Wrike. Businesses such as Hootsuite, Fitbit and Loreal, and Procurify are using Wrike to enhance team transparency and collaboration!
Wrike has all the functionality you’d expect from an agile project management tool such as Gantt Charts, Dashboards, and configurable workflows. It lets you plan your projects with ease, one thing that sets Wrike apart, however, are just how many integrations are available.
Quite often in a project, information gets swapped over email, shared documents or images which can mean valuable requirements or discussions are saved in multiple locations. By using its integrations module, Wrike can put information from disparate sources at your fingertips! It can forward emails, access files in the cloud, process data and even integrate with applications such as Salesforce, JIRA, and Zapier. It can help you have all your valuable project information in one place, thereby removing the likelihood of “brain drain” in a project.
VersionOne has LOADS of features, you could argue too many. No doubt it will appeal to IT professionals that love technology. Over 1,000 companies, including 33 of the Fortune 100 use VersionOne to help keep their Agile ALM and DevOps on track.
Its built for agile and scales right out of the box, with its powerful reporting features and rich dashboards, Version one makes it effortless to view and track your teams KPIs from “on the ground” to the executive level, thereby helping your team make better-informed decisions.
VersionOne can be used on-premise or even through a SaaS deployment which gives you some flexibility in terms of cost and unlike some other products we’ve discussed such as JIRA, VersionOne has built-in support for the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe).
With up to 5 different editions of the product, the free version can be somewhat limited (1 project and one team) but is enough to give you a taster of the product and at $29 per month (per user) it won’t break the bank if you need to add additional teams or projects.
Another addition to our list is Active Collab. This agile project management tool contains all the task management features and similar dashboards that you’d expect. That said, Active Collab doesn’t have a spring planning option which is key for agile projects.
It can be adapted to your agile process needs and is more economical that VersionOne coming in at $25 a month for a team of 5. Alternatively, you can install it on your own server which gives you unlimited team members.
Its intuitive interface makes it quick and easy to use!
With Active Collab, you can track every minute of your work and bill clients accordingly as well as easily issue invoices off the back off completed work which is a great feature!
Finally, we get to SpiraTeam. SpiraTeam is an end to end agile project management product for software development teams. It lets you manage your projects requirements, releases, iterations, tasks, bugs, and issues. Its specifically designed to support agile methodologies such as Scrum, XP, DSDM and lets your team manage all project specific information in one place.
From just one dashboard, you can see of KPIs for your team’s project such as – the status of requirements, test cases or bugs. You can also drill down further into the detail of these if you wish with ease.
Like some of the other products we’ve discussed, you can either use SpiraTeam in the cloud or download the tool and run it on-premise.
Whether you’re a Project Manager, Developer, QA Analysts or Product Manager, SpiraTeam has you covered. The product ships with too many features to mention! Some include, but are not limited to:
- Planning board
- Sprint planning
- Source code integration
- Task Management
So, there you have it, the 10 Best Agile Project Management Tools in 2018. We’ve covered quite a lot in this article. Most of these tools offer similar features and dashboards to help you better manage your agile projects. At the end of the day, if you’re practicing agile, you don’t want to process your team to death!
Pick a product that has the right balance of process, gives you a level of customization that your team(s) need and one that doesn’t “get in the way” of you building and shipping product!
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