Agile Tools for Project Management Awesomeness

• Agile

Agile is a project management methodology that focuses on leveraging small teams of cross-functional experts, breaking off chunks of a bigger project, and working on them with a bigger picture target in mind.

Agile focuses on gradually implementing change so that the project grows incrementally over a long period of time, as opposed to trying to hit big targets all at once and launching features under tight deadlines.

Why do we need agile tools?

In order to do your best work in an agile work environment, you need agile tools.

Agile tools are designed to be agile. Or, more specifically, agile tools are built with agile use cases in mind, and are, therefore, designed to accommodate the unique needs of a team working with the Agile framework.

Agile tools are built with a work environment in mind where projects are split into basic work blocks, which are iteratively carried out by a cross-functional team, in order to keep improving the bigger target’s quality over time.

Agile tools needed to run scrum

For teams working with Scrum, you need tools that are designed for smaller work sprints and iterative project growth. These include:

1. Version management

Just like Ctrl + X undoes your work in Word and Ctrl + Y redoes changes you’d undone, version management is a simple Scrum feature that helps the team take a look at the work from the various stages it went through as features were added and little changes were made.

Benefits of using version management

Version management helps provide a 360-degree view of a sprint so work can be analyzed from various angles to determine what’s work, what’s not, and what can be changed to get better results.

2. Backlog management

Backlog management basically involves collecting user stories, prioritizing them, qualifying them, and then having them issued to the Scrum team to commence working on.

Benefits of using backlog management

Backlog management simplifies Scrum by offering a simple and cohesive avenue for managing the user stories that inspire product features. Efficient backlog management makes it easier for the Scrum team to actually spend more time getting work done vs. trying to determine which issues to work on, and how.

3. Sprint planning

Sprint planning is a backbone feature of Scrum tools since this is the point where work gets planned out and assigned a time window and enough resources to achieve the sprint’s targets.

Benefits of using sprint planning

Sprint planning is the point where the sprint is envisioned and planned for. Here’s where good estimates are needed for optimum resource allocation and ideal tools are chosen to get the work done as fast as possible. Sprint planning is indispensable for planning and executing sprints successfully.

4. Permissions management

Permissions management determines which members of the Scrum team have access to specific parts of a project, information, etc.

Benefits of using permissions management

Permissions management makes it easy to make sure team members have access to all the information and content they need and nothing more. This is most critical in an environment where the Scrum team is working on sensitive information that might need to be executed on a need-to-know basis.

5. Workflows

A workflow indicates a collection of systems and processes the Scrum team has to apply in order to get a specific result. Likewise, workflows are a specific pattern of doing work that’s been tested and trusted by the Scrum team for doing some exact type of work.

Benefits of using workflows

Workflows make it easy for Scrum teams to do their best work at scale since the team now has an easily repeatable process they can tap to always deliver the best results over time. With frequent updates and improvements, workflows eventually help the team keep improving their productivity while using fewer resources.

6. Release hubs

As the name implies, the release hub is a collection or complete or nearly-complete action items that have been successfully worked on and are ready to ship to the end-users. The release hub contains details of finishing touches that these to-dos might need before they finally get out of the door.

Benefits of using release hubs

The release hub offers a simple organization center where the Scrum team can look at their work to ensure that every little detail that’s needed to make their work top-notch is added before it’s shipped. It serves as a quality control section where completed features are brushed up while waiting to launch.

Agile tools needed to run kanban

Kanban places an emphasis on gradual improvement and detailed task management. For teams running a Kanban model, here are some ideal agile tools to leverage:

Agile Tools for Kanban

1. Story cards

A story card provides a snapshot of an action item within the Kanban board, detailing the story’s main point, as well as a few tags that make it easy to determine where exactly the action item falls within the Kanban board.

Story cards can be clicked to expand with more info such as comments, deadline, assignees, workflow stage, project details, etc.

Benefits of using story cards

Story cards make it easy to see at a glance what an action item refers to, why it was created, and possibly, what impact it’s supposed to have. Likewise, a story card offers more in-depth information within a simple, easy-to-view interface so team members are always up-to-date on pertinent details concerning every task on the Kanban board.

2. WIP limits configuration

Work-in-progress limits simply refer to a configuration that limits the number of current action items that can exist within a particular column on a Kanban board

Benefits of using WIP limits

WIP Limits help to reduce clutter when working on several tasks since only a handful of action items can be present in each workflow at every given time, and as a result, it’s easier to focus on ongoing to-dos, get them out of the way, and gradually allow other action items to be processed. This approach makes it both easier and faster to do work without losing focus or clarity.

3. Swimlanes and columns

Swimlanes and columns within a Kanban interface are useful for offering a distinction between where an action item is currently and every other item on the Kanban board. This serves as a reference point for managing tasks based on their journey through the team’s workflow.

Benefits of using Swimlanes

Just like swimlanes help Olympic swimmers stay on their track, as well as making it easy to track winners and losers, swimlanes and columns offer an easy way of tracking project progress within Kanban as well as visualizing all action items that are within a specific stage of the workflow. This helps the team to accurately determine what to prioritize, visualize what’s getting done, and easily track bottlenecks in their execution process or workflow.

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