Agile teams need tools that can support the way they work. They may not thrive in a more structured process that requires advanced planning led by a traditional project manager who likes to manage in a waterfall-type fashion. But not every team in an organization is running agile, and not every project can run in sprints. Many teams need to be able to run both types of projects in their project management software. And you might be surprised to learn how Agile teams can benefit from project management software features that one might assume is only for traditional PM work.
So, what project management tools work well with Agile teams? Here are 5 agile project management tools teams can use to plan their sprints and manage their tasks.
Collaborative Gantt Charts
Whereas many traditional project teams use Gantt charts to plan projects, these can be seen by Agile teams as the “kiss of death” of micro-management. Online Gantt charts, however, can be collaboration platforms in and of themselves. They are a means for the team to plan together, track each other’s progress and collaborate on deliverables right on the task level, with file attachments, comments and notes.
It’s easy to plan in sprints, and the sprint progress can easily be tracked together as a team. Because the Gantt chart is interactive, you can simply drag and drop scheduling changes, such as adjusting start and end dates. Project plans are created, monitored and shared with multiple views, which allow team members to work independently on their tasks and get email updates when their tasks have changed as a result of a delay or product pivot.
Discussions & Chat
Collaboration features are embedded throughout the software. At the task level you can add notes, attach docs, and comment to manage that task’s workflow as a team. There are also discussion threads and activity feeds that allow you to share important data with onsite and remote teams.
The discussion functionality creates person-to-person chat or group chats, depending on who needs to access to the conversation. Remote teams can also chat via the mobile app, as well as collaborate around tasks in their workflow. The team can see task updates, plan updates and lunch updates wherever they’re located.
Agile Resource Management
Agile teams require careful resource planning, to maintain healthy ratios of project work and time for innovation, too. With the workload management feature anyone can see in real-time who is over-assigned. It’s also easy to re-assign tasks by simply clicking on the day and changing the task assignment.
But since Agile teams are constantly changing direction, you need to stay aware of these moves without impeding them.
The color-coded guide makes managing resources even easier. Red indicators tell you at-a-glance if you’ve over-allocated a team member. Yellow reminds you when holidays are coming up, while a green tone lets you know when a team member is on track or available for more work.
While Agile teams require independence, they’re not an island and it’s crucial that you keep them updated. It’s easy to export and share workload updates with your team and even invite comments through the social homepage or emails.
Reporting on Projects & Sprints
Reports can show you a snapshot of your work in progress. Agile teams often work in sprints, and with different teams operating in different sprint cycles, it can be hard to know whether all those teams are delivering work efficiently. Some Agile teams generate project-level reports.
Reporting is a two-way street. It informs sponsors of project progress, but it can also be used as a means of improving a team’s productivity.
Generating a report is easy with ProjectManager.com. The process is as simple as selecting what you want a report on and then clicking, whether it be a status report, task update, timesheet, workload or expense.
By customizing these reports you can filter just the information you want seen to target the data that will be most helpful to your team. And you can deliver them in whatever format you team members prefer: online or offline as a PDF, Excel or csv file.
By having instant access to real-time data that can then be collected into easily sharable reports allows both team leaders and team members to quickly determine where things are working and where they’re not, and increase efficiencies.
Real-time dashboards are views of live data in online project management software. The data updates immediately upon a team member updating their task or timesheet. It allows the team to drill own in real-time to see the details of a specific resource allocation, task assignments or project budgets.
Some project management tools have “dashboards” but they’re really glorified task lists. Agile teams can benefit from vidual reporting and business analytics dashboards in several ways:
- Daily standups – display the dashboard on the big screen during a daily stand view task progress reports. This will guarantee your team will update their task progress.
- Sprint planning – see instantly who’s got bandwidth and who doesn’t when you’re planning your next sprint.
- Stakeholder meetings – Agile teams have to report on progress, just like waterfall teams. Executives love the live data contained in a real-time dashboard, and can easily read these charts.
Like other features of the software, these dashboard charts are fully customizable to view the data in ways that help you tell the story of your team’s success. And if you need some input from the team, dashboards are online, so easily shared by anyone.
Whether you think of Agile as a methodology, a philosophy, or as a manifesto for software development, more and more teams outside of IT are using the practice in new ways as a means of getting work done with improved innovation, more flexibility and with quicker turnaround times. Agile, you could say, has gone mainstream, and it’s now used by many different teams and industries.
Chances are you’re leading an Agile team now or you’re wondering if Agile can work for your team. Many say that Agile’s success is less dependent on the pm tools you use and more on the culture. While there’s some truth to that, it’s a bit misleading. You need project management tools to help manage and control your team’s work, but Agile doesn’t come with a primer on how to use software to achieve the best results with your team.
Consistently rated #1 in project management by Gartner’s GetApp, ProjectManager.com has the planning, collaboration and tracking tools Agile & project management teams need to deliver sprints and projects on time and within budget. Try it out with this free 30-day trial.