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What Agile Tool Should Be Used?

posted May 18, 2015, 3:46 PM by Anjuan Simmons   [ updated Jul 21, 2016, 6:38 PM ]
A member of an Agile group I follow on Linkedin asked about what Agile tool should be used to manage and report the work of the Development Team. The person who asked the question felt that Post-it notes and index cards on a whiteboard were best, but he has seen several Agile Practitioners advocate online tools like Jira, PivotalTracker, Trello, etc. Here is the answer I posted:

As some have said, I think that the tool you use is considerably lesser in importance than how the team uses the tool. Even post-it notes or index cards that move on a physical board between lanes can be ineffective if the team does not use them well. Regardless of tool, I recommend that the following practices are in place:
  • Everyone knows where the tool is and has access to it. This is a requirement for the members of the development team but is also suggested for the entire organization.
  • Everyone understands how updates are made to the tool and who can make each type of update.
  • Everyone rigorously keeps the data in the tool fresh. This usually requires daily updates.
  • The tools should be the single source of truth for the work done by the team. Any other sources of information (Slack, FlowDock, memory, etc.) should be deprecated in favor of the tool.
  • Any information those outside of the Agile team request beyond working software is provided in the minimum acceptable format. Efforts should be made to discard the reporting and replace with working software as soon as possible. This is often done through frequent demos of working software at the end of the sprint, but preference should be given to conducting a demo whenever a user story is done.
Put these practices in place and you'll increase the value of whatever tool you select and implement.