What to Look For in an Agile Project Management Tool

Managing projects is a tough job.

There seem to be a million moving parts, reams of data to review, dozens of people to keep up-to-date, not to mention personnel and all the potential hazards lurking in those waters.

The software you use to help you handle this job should make it easier, not harder. To help you make the best decision, consider looking for these nine attributes in the Agile project management tool you’re considering.

A repository for stories and defects


This is a basic. Your Agile PM tool should offer a simple, intuitive means of viewing and organizing all the ongoing stories and defects that are currently in process, as well as a backlog and archive for reference purposes. Your task breakdowns come from this repository. Everyone in the organization should be able to access this information quickly and easily.

Sprint definitions


Each sprint involves certain stories and/or defects that are going to be handled within a given time frame (usually two weeks, although that can change).

Your software should allow each sprint to be defined effectively, including start and end dates. As noted below, this will directly impact the value of your tool’s reporting features.

Task, story, sprint, and release status tracking


As each sprint – and, really, each complete project – progresses, the entire process is highly dynamic. Tasks and stories are going to be at various levels of completion throughout a sprint, and each release is going to contain multiple sprints.

Your Agile PM tool needs to be able to maintain all of this data in real-time, preferably with simple and intuitive charting functions to make it easier to understand your current status at a glance. Burnup and Burndown charts are especially important to the successful management of Agile projects, and should be an automatic function.

Scalability


It wouldn’t make sense to begin using a tool that works well at the team level, but begins to fall short at the program level (for instance, mapping sprints to releases), and does nothing for the portfolio level at all (failing to offer epic decomposition, for example).

The best tool for helping you manage Agile projects will be fully scalable across the organization, providing necessary data to decision-makers at all levels. It should also be able to seamlessly grow with the organization as project volume and complexity changes over the life of the business.

Standard and custom queries


While standard queries – such as those that result in a sprint burndown chart – will likely exist in any Agile project management tool, custom queries are equally important. Basically, you want to be able to get the information you want when you want it without being constricted by the limited library of standard queries the software manufacturer thought you would need.

While the next four items aren’t absolute “must-haves”, you’ll definitely appreciate them if you can get them.

Test-case support


It’s definitely helpful if your tool supports the documenting and tracking of test cases and their results, both for automated tests and higher-level manual testing scenarios. This information can and should feed into future tasks, stories, and defects, so it makes sense to keep it housed in the same environment.

Workflow features


If the software you choose offers robust workflow features, it will make your project management duties far easier. A solid workflow can provide guidance for the next logical step in the process based on the data already input, and it can automate e-mail notifications to everyone involved so that everyone stays on the same page throughout the project.

This facilitates good decision-making and efficiency.

Integration with other applications


No single software tool is going to include every function your organization uses in creating, monitoring, and releasing projects. So, the next best thing is an application that seamlessly integrates with whatever other tools you’re currently using.

Imagine how powerful it would be to have appropriate customer concerns or feedback filter back from a CMS like Saleforce to your Agile project management tool to be incorporated into upcoming defects and tasks for future sprints.

Elimination of redundant tools


At the same time, a solid PM tool should be able to replace one or more less robust options that you may currently be using. If that’s the case, all the better. By eliminating these redundancies and maintaining as much as possible in one system, your job just got easier!

If you’re looking for an Agile project management tool that offers all of the above and more, you’ve come to the right place. Let us show you what’s available.