The #2 Agile Project Management Tool

Why would I write a post about the #2 Agile Project Management Tool and not #1? Because we all know that sticky notes, and physical Kan Ban board and team stand ups are obviously #1, right? I mean what tool could improve upon that? But in addition to the physical sticky notes, there are some other advantages that can be realized by using one of the many Agile Project Management tools out there.

Agile Project Management Tool Objectives

The additional value I think that can be realized are:

  1. Provide mechanism to manage a Virtual Kan Ban board and facilitate project and release planning.
  2. Provide a virtual, web-enabled Project Management tool that can be used by remote team members.
  3. Provide automated reports that can be used to report on project status, velocity, burn up, and burn down.
  4. Create a database of project estimates versus actuals that can be used to improve.

My Search

I know when I started looking around I was overwhelmed with the amount of tools out there. My purpose in writing this blog post is to provide the information that I wish I would have been able to find to help me with my choice back then. I have downloaded and installed each and every one of the five tools that I will be discussing. Now some of these tools I downloaded and evaluated a few months ago so the functionality may have changed somewhat. My apologies if certain aspects have changed, but these tools are all changing very quickly and it is almost impossible to keep up with all of them.

The Candidates

The Agile Project Management Tools I evaluated were:

  1. Version One
  2. Rally
  3. Target Process
  4. Mingle
  5. Agile Zen

 The Rating Categories

I rounded the criteria down to 10 rating categories which I graded the candidates in each. I graded the candidates by a number from 0 to 3. The ratings were awarded based on my review at that time of the functionality. The review was what I would term to be an intermediate review. I tried to go into a good amount of depth, but I also did not have an inordinate amount of time to perform the review. As usual when I do review like this I fill out the numbers and let mathematics define the winner.

  • Internet-enabled (Private) – allows for all team members to remotely log in and review status
  • Virtual Kan Ban – provides a virtual Kan Ban board that all team members can view
  • Manage Physical Kan Ban – allows for the management of the physical Kan Ban board by printing cards and splitting stories
  • Iteration Planning – facilitates the planning and managing of Iterations
  • Release Planning – facilitates the planning and managing of Iterations and Releases
  • Project Planning – facilitates the planning and managing of Iterations, Releases, and Projects
  • Self Hosted – Allows for the client to host the tool. (Easily and with little additional effort or cost)
  • Workflow and Customization – provides workflow functionality and allowing for customization
  • Build Project History – allows for the retention of project estimates and actuals to improve
  • Reporting – provides canned reports to help to report on status.
  Version One     Rally Agile Zen Mingle Target Process
Web-enabled

3

3

3

3

3

Virtual Kan Ban

2

2

3

2

2

Manage Physical Kan Ban

3

3

3

3

3

Iteration Planning

3

3

1

1

3

Release Planning

3

3

1

1

3

Project Planning

3

3

1

1

3

Self Hosted

0

0

0

3

3

Workflow & Customizations

1

2

1

1

3

build project history

3

3

1

1

3

Reporting

3

3

1

1

3

           
Total

24

25

15

17

29

Notables

  • For what I needed out of the Agile Project Management Tools, Agile, Version One, and TargetProcess were at the head of the class. This is because they allow me to manage iterations with a Kan Ban board AND facilitate overall project planning as well.
  • AgileZen probably has the best Kan Ban board with a timer on the duration a story has been blocked. Very nice feature.
  • TargetProcess has a great feature to be able to easily split stories.
  • TargetProcess was the only one out of the big three that allowed me to EASILY host the solution. This was a key differentiator
  • TargetProcess had an excellent Workflow system with the ability to add custom fields and rename standard terminology in the system. Very cool.
  • TargetProcess also had a good suite of canned reports and a facility for me to create my own reports

In Summary

For my needs, TargetProcess was the clear winner. Any of these tools are great choices depending on what you need to do. But given that I needed to host my data and plan releases and the entire project, TargetProcess was a clear choice. It was also a huge benefit that I was provided the ability to customize the solution and workflow. I have learned to appreciate the power of the customization and workflow features and have used continued to increase my use of these features.

3 thoughts on “The #2 Agile Project Management Tool

  1. Pingback: Best Agile Tool and Technique awards for 2011 « Protegra

  2. It’s great that you like TargetProcess, and I’ll have to take another look at it. But as a comparison this post is flawed. It’s not clear how you eliminated the others. And I’m not sure your table shows completely..

    • Thanks for the feedback Mark.

      It might be that the impression you arrived at was do to the shortened Blog entry. I would agree that the blog post is shorter than I would do for full product review, but I didn’t want the blog post to be too long. I’m not sure if it is flawed, but it certainly is a personal opinion based on some generic requirements and some requirements specfic to my current project and consulting in general. As always, I would expect individual opinions to differ. 🙂

      As for criteria that excluded solutions, there were really three:

      1) Ability to easily host the solution
      2) Ability to do Release/Project/Program planning
      3) Kan Ban board (But everyone could do this)

      These three did end up reducing the solution to really only TargetProcess for my requirements. Subsequent investigation focused on the other aspects and how well the tool satisfied a certain requirement. It should be stated that all the tools are very close and each have their pros and cons in the other areas.

      In the end though, TargetProcess fit my requirements enough so that we have chosen it as our corporate standard. (It had other unique features for the other requirements that provided added value. Like Workflow)

      Thanks Mark. Please let me know if there are any specific criteria you feel I’ve graded incorrectly and I’ll revise in light of any new information.

      Regards

      Terry

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s