4 Tips to Effectively Evaluate New Agile Software Tools

By Ryan Yackel, Senior Product Specialist, QASymphony

Tools, tools, tools… get your software tools here!  

Everywhere you look, a software development manager seemingly has an infinite number of software tools to pick from.  From the big name legacy software, to the hip new software that is taking the development world by storm. You got options. Probably too many options.  

With every project management and development tool claiming to magically solve your team’s problems, the hard work of evaluating all these solutions can seem like swimming alone in an ocean of possibilities.  However, shopping for software tools remains a necessary task for an effective agile transformation.  You’re changing your team, you’re implementing best practices, and you’re taking steps into the new agile frontier.  But when do you need to look into new software tools that will help accelerate your agile process? It’s certainly not the first thing you do, but it’s not the last thing you do either.  

Here are some tips on how to effectively evaluate new agile software tools.

1) Nail Down Your Process First

I was recently at a product marketing course, The Pragmatic Marketing Framework, and the instructor made some pretty eye opening comments about process and products.  The instructor told us that “If your product doesn’t fit your prospect’s process, you might as well stop engaging them.”  You can’t force a product fit without it aligning with your agile transformation process.  Agile comes in different forms, whether it’s Scrum/Scrum of Scrums, Enterprise Agile, Kanban, SAFE, XP, etc. So make sure your process is nailed down before looking for the right software.  Learn more about setting up a process a proper functional  agile software testing approach in this blog post “Agile Software Testing – A Must Do, Anyone Can Do!” by cPrime’s CTO, Joel Brass.

2) Notice the Patterns

Patterns in your SDLC can tell you where your bottlenecks will develop.  Some of these patterns will be inefficiencies in your current process which are being sorted out with a process change. For example, your team has a terrible habit of checking in and checking out documentation within a project.  This leads to poor collaboration and slow feedback turnaround on new product features.  The solution to your team’s’ problem isn’t a software that can provide a newer, advanced new check in and check out feature.  Rather, it’s a software that fosters real-time communication.  Make sure that the software you choose doesn’t solve the pattern you are hoping to alleviate.  You want the software to fit where you are going in the future, not where you’ve been.

3) Beware of the Biases


As your new agile transformation process starts necessitating new tools, beware of the biases of your team. It’s more than likely that you will have team members with strong preferences towards a particular tool before the formal evaluation even begins.  Also, due to mass majority of product knowledge available on the internet, 60% of their buying process might already be finished.  Maybe they used that tool in a previous job.  Maybe they have read a lot of product reviews or watched a webinar about that tool.  Whatever the reason, their minds might be made up.  That’s why it’s very important to have a clear set of requirements and bring in many different perspectives, from inside and outside your company, to help in the evaluation.  

4) Put Some Burn on Those Tires

Before selecting a new tool, you should do a lot of trials and Proofs of Concepts to make sure you are getting the right product for your process.  Don’t let the “dealer” dictate your software trial experience.  Think about how savvy car buyers approach their purchase experience.  They test drive the car until they can smell the burn on the tires.  If a salesperson suggests that smoothly paved road during the test drive, the savvy car buyer takes it down the awkward streets and up the steep hills.  If the engine sounds funny, either pick a different model or vehicle.  During a trial, make sure your process objectives are clear and you create a trial experience that mimics your day-to-day.  Many of our customers will pilot the tools with their teams and let them vote on the tool they like best.  That’s a great way to ensure high adoption after the tool is purchased.

Going through an agile transformation can bring huge benefits to your company.  It’s not easy. But with the right people, process and tools in place, you will see the results.  

If you are currently going through Agile Transformation or thinking about making the transition to agile I’d like to invite you to download “What you Need to know about Software Testing in the Agile Era”.  In this guide, we bring together two thought leaders in the software development to provide perspective on the future of testing and how successful teams need to evolve to with the changing times.

Looking to make your Agile Testing better? Try out a 14 day free trial of qTest, QASymphony’s powerful and easy-to-use Test Case Management tool.

About the Author

Ryan Yackel is a Senior Product Engineer at QASymphony. He spends most his time demoing customized solutions for the Enterprise but you can catch him periodically on QASs Whiteboard Fridays. Prior to QASymphony, Ryan was an enterprise software tester at Macy’s and worked with automated test software at CGI. He enjoys making and drinking good coffee. Ryan received a BA in Finance from the Covenant College where he played soccer.