As teams continue to adopt and scale agile development within their organizations, the challenges of coordinating and managing multiple groups, locations and projects continue to increase. Project complexity is further amplified because agile environments embrace changing plans and priorities in real time. Agile tools provide ways to manage this complexity within the context of a single, consistent framework to maximize the value and success of your agile development activities.
In order to maximize value from an agile deployment, six key criteria should be considered when selecting an agile tool for enterprise management:
Iterative, Feature-driven Development
Although it may seem obvious, many teams getting started with agile attempt to use a series of traditional tools that do not facilitate agile planning and tracking by release or iteration, do not enable easy changes to plans and priorities and do not use features (e.g., user stories, product backlog or requirements) as the primary planning asset.
Integrated Life Cycle Management within One Agile Tool
As opposed to different tools for different phases, agile development employs a tightly integrated process that coordinates high-level feature planning, detailed task and test planning, defect and test management and overall project tracking. Storing project information in multiple tools inhibits accurate, real-time visibility.
True support for cross-functional agile teams means consolidating and facilitating the project planning and tracking needs of customers, product management, project management, programmers, testers and other stakeholders in a single environment for improved collaboration and consistency.
Flexible Configuration of Agile Tools
No two organizations operate in the exact same manner when it comes to organizational structure, terminology, product planning, project scheduling and tracking and reporting. Any scalable agile management tool should accommodate much of this flexibility and allow organizations to define, organize and plan according to their unique organizational needs.
While complex needs may arise, the necessity to provide team members a simple, straightforward planning, tracking and reporting system is critical for broad deployment. Like agile development, the more simple the agile tool the better. Most importantly, tools should never replace the benefits achieved from daily planning, personal communication, product reviews and retrospectives. An agile life cycle management tool is only as good as the process it facilitates and the people that use it.
Agile tools for deployment within an enterprise must be able to handle a sophisticated project structure, thousands of features and defects, and potentially tens of thousands of tasks and tests. There are many team-based tools that include “cool” features, but in larger deployments, key concerns include both ease-of-use and support for thousands of items flowing through an agile life cycle with minimal overhead.
With these criteria in mind, this Agile Tools Evaluator Guide outlines a set of capabilities all enterprise agile management tools should enable. This guide focuses on best practice support for scaling agile planning, tracking and reporting across your environment. This guide is also helpful in highlighting functionality desired as you begin to implement an agile management tool and addressing what you will be able to achieve with respect to overall project and reporting structures, program management and integration as your agile process matures.