Project Management Tools for Agile Development
The CLINIC IT team is distributed, with people working out of our NYC, Singapore and Manila offices, and sometimes working from home as is allowed by our telecommuting policy. As such, maintaining tight communication loops on multiple projects simultaneously can be challenging.
There are a lot of online tools out there that promise to help fix the problems of collaboration, both remote and local. Still, the effectiveness of any app or tool will depend mostly on how efficiently it is used. Part of keeping our communications tight is using as few apps as possible. Using multiple apps means learning to use them all effectively. It takes too much time, can scatter ideas and discussions, and ultimately it will slow down progress.
Here are two of the most common tools we use on all development projects:
First is Pivotal Tracker, which has been part our daily workflow for a few years now. It has a very intuitive design that should be perfect for any team who are using Scrum or any Agile framework. Given that the product backlog is properly groomed, it allows all project stakeholders to easily see and contribute to sprint planning and also monitor progress. We’ll have another post on backlog maintenance and grooming soon. Pivotal Tracker also helps to drive conversations on features directly into the stories that define them, which makes it far easier for product owners and managers to communicate the finer details of their requests directly to the developers.
Second and more recently is Basecamp. Since we can’t always “walk up to the desk” of the person we want to talk to, and time-zone differences make chat/email not always instantaneous, we decided to implement Basecamp for any ‘big picture’ discussions. We start writing the larger stories or epics here for further refinement before breaking them down more granularly for input into Pivotal Tracker. Basecamp allows us to discuss workflow, post mockups and throw in ideas in an organized and manageable way. As a project develops and moves further towards production, Basecamp acts as a reference for all of the planning and decisions that have been made along the way.