Agile is a way of working that comes from software development. It’s iterative and incremental in its approach, working in short “sprints,” and building on a foundation of trust, flexibility, empowerment and collaboration.
While the roots of incremental development methods of working stem back to the 1950s and into the 1970s, it wasn’t until 2001 that a group of software developers published the Manifesto for Agile Software Development.
Since that time, agile has been a hot topic in project management. Some see it as a magic bullet methodology; others say it’s not a methodology at all. But even as the debate rages on in the PM community, the use of agile has moved out of the software development ghetto and has influenced how projects in many industries are managed.
Agile Tools for Agile Teams
But as teams rally around the agile flag, they find that they need to radically adjust the way they work. Traditional project management is more hierarchical and structured, like a big ship that takes time to turn, while agile is more flexible and built to pivot frequently.
Therefore, teams need to be equipped differently in order to reap the benefits of an agile approach. There are agile project management tools that designed to fit the way agile teams work in projects. The following are four of the most important agile tools that teams can use for project success.
1. Task Lists for Backlogs
The backlog is a task list that is prioritized, with a short description of each task. The better your backlog, the better your sprint. It sets expectations by highlighting for the team the most important tasks that must be accomplished at the top of the list.
If it sounds like a task list that’s because it’s similar, and therefore a task list tool can be a great help to teams as they work through their backlogs. A good task list tool is going to boost productivity. ProjectManager.com helps you manage tasks by allowing teams to filter their lists by due date, owner, project, etc.
Because ProjectManager.com is a cloud-based software, when a team member updates their task list that status is instantly updated for everyone. Also, those status updates can be done anywhere and at any time. Comments, production notes and document handoffs can be attached, keeping the conversation about the task easy to access.
The tasks can be tagged, as well, so they can be found quickly. The backlog can be shared with anyone, whether a team member or not, which fosters collaboration. Emails alerts make sure the team stays on schedule and while team members can look at their individual backlog, they can also stay looped in on what other team members are working on.
2. Kanban Boards for Sprints
Sprints are the lifeblood of agile projects. Sprints are what distinguishes agile from more traditional project management methodologies, such as waterfall. A different working method demands a different tool, which is where kanban comes in.
Kanban project management comes from Toyota, where it was used to streamline efficiencies in manufacturing. Its visual design of boards and cards is a perfect match for the collaboration and transparency needed to have a successful sprint. If you’re tasked with getting iterations done quickly, then you must have a tool that can grease the wheels and move you through the process faster.
Because in agile deliverables are determined by sprints, and kanban works to make continuous progress on delivery of products on an as-needed basis, the two work hand in glove. Agile teams can use kanban to track the progress of their sprints and visualize what has been prioritized. They pull the card with the task that they’re assigned and place it within the column that indicates they’re working on it, so everyone can see.
With ProjectManager.com, the kanban boards can be set up to have swimlanes, which are vertical categories on a board. This helps to manage similar projects on one board and track which tasks are in progress and which tasks might be blocking other team members.
You can also easily reassign tasks on ProjectManager.com, and on the task card add files and images while collaborating with the team. When you use the @ symbol, the mentioned team member will get an email alert.
Kanban on ProjectManager.com maximizes workflow efficiencies. Cards can be dragged and dropped from column to column as the work moves forward, updating progress. Because ProjectManager.com is cloud-based, progress is reported in real-time with no lag.
3. Gantt Charts for the Big Picture
Gantt charts get a bad name. Yes, they can be hard to use. But since the tool has been digitalized, the benefits of a Gantt chart have far outweighed its past deficits. While it’s true that they feel like a relic of the older, more traditional management style of projects, there’s still some new tricks in this old dog.
Gantt chart software can be used for sprint tracking across the life cycle of a project. It can also capture task dependencies in the sprint. If you need to move a task from the sprint or change the date, it’s a simple drag-and-drop on ProjectManager.com. Changes can be tracked and the time it took to complete the task is clear when you’re managing the sprint on a Gantt chart.
In terms of creating an archive with historical project data, you can put old sprints on a Gantt and map news ones. This provides a long-term plan for the project, rather than just focusing myopically on one sprint at a time.
This is a boon when dealing with project stakeholders. Your estimates for scheduling will be more accurate when you have precedent to guide you.
4. Dashboards for Reporting on Progress
Speaking of stakeholders, they’re always going to want status updates on the progress of the project. Project managers will want to have reports tailored for the stakeholders’ needs for presentations. ProjectManager.com has the best project reporting, as they are both simple to understand and dynamic.
With ProjectManager.com’s real-time dashboard, all the project metrics are captured and the numbers are automatically crunched to display in colorful graphs and charts. This data is instantly updated when team members update their status, so it’s very accurate.
The charts and graphs can be filtered to show just the information that the stakeholders want to see. If in the midst of your presentation, you’re asked to go deeper into the data, that can be done with just a click.
The progress of the sprint, whether during or after the action, is now immediately available to the stakeholder. Not only are team members on the same page, but that transparency keeps your stakeholder happy and builds trust to create a more productive working environment.
Agile projects require agile tools for teams. ProjectManager.com is a cloud-based project management software that serves whatever methodology you choose to control your project. Online Gantt charts, Kanban boards, task management features and more keep agile teams in communication and collaborating with ease. See how it can help make your project management more flexible and efficient by taking this free 30-day trial.