Agile Project Management Software
It’s easy to get caught up in demands to produce more and work longer hours, or to succumb to task-driven drudgery that isn’t personally satisfying or professionally valuable. Change doesn’t have to disrupt your Agile workflow. Having the right Agile project management software and tools makes it easy to balance workloads, adapt to shifting priorities, and collaborate across teams.
Why you need Agile project management software
To be successful with Agile project management, you must have the software and tools to track your workflow, sprint progress, and available project resources. In addition to managing a backlog, having Agile project management software allows you to create a storyboard where you can see all your current user stories and break them down into smaller subtasks that can be assigned to specific members on the team.
As you look at the various Agile software options out there, here are some questions to ask:
- Will the software automate a repetitive task?
- Does the software have a backlog, timed sprints, storyboard, and burndown chart functionality?
- Does the software allow you to clearly see where your team has allocated time?
- Can you pull reports quickly that are accurate and easy to read?
- Does it allow for cross-functionality within the company?
- Will the software integrate with other systems?
- Does it provide good ROI?
Are you reading this and thinking, I’m not sure if we really need Agile project management software? Then you may find the following points to be helpful during your decision-making process:
- Drive greater productivity by automating repetitive manual tasks
- Increase collaboration and transparency through social-style updates and dashboards
- Reduce project failure with real-time views into project progress and resource workloads
- Provide data-driven insights for constant improvement
A key factor to remember: Agile is all about being more transparent and proactive in dealing with situations as they arise. Having project management software with Agile functionality not only allows for this, but provides you with tools and resources to measure and evaluate your progress so you can serve your clients better, update executives and project stakeholders with current information, lead your team with clarity, and ensure work will be completed by the deadline.
Agile software improves processes
While you take steps towards tracking your project management process, now is the time to also look at your own strategy and reflect on what changes you can start implementing—what’s working and what isn’t. As you establish the best course of action for your work, use the Agile software you’ve installed to help you determine how to proceed with your next sprint.
Is there someone on your team who has some extra time to work on a new task, who is taking time off and what tasks need to be completed before they leave, or is someone on your team being assigned too many hours and is headed towards burnout? As a project manager, all of these factors are important to consider while you’re moving forward.
Agile software features
An Agile way of thinking is only one component of managing our professional paths. We also need Agile software and tools that allow us to turn an Agile mindset into a way of getting things done.
Let’s look at four Agile components that your Agile project management software needs to have to fully put the methodology into practice.
- Work in Progress (WIP) limits
- The backlog
- Daily reviews
- Burndown charts
When used on Agile teams, WIP limits help maintain a consistent flow and regular releases, but they’re also extremely valuable for individuals who want to avoid the bane of the modern knowledge worker: multitasking.
By forcing yourself to finish something before moving on to the next task, you can structure your day to avoid context switching. Your WIP limit for your “Doing” column doesn’t have to be one, but it definitely shouldn’t be more than three, and if you can keep it down to two that’s even better.
By setting a strict WIP limit with your Agile software, you force yourself to finish something completely before moving on to the next thing. After all, doing half of something is the same as doing nothing.
Managing the backlog
Consider this disheartening fact about to-do lists: Just half of all to-do list items are completed within a day, and 41 percent are never completed at all.
When we make lists that never get checked off, our motivation suffers, making us even less productive than before. It’s a vicious cycle, but one that we can break by implementing a backlog within your Agile software.
The backlog is an ever-changing list of project requests that lets the Agile team know which projects need to be completed first. Using an Agile software, you can create task requests based on user stories with assigned estimates (i.e. hours, Story Points, etc) and manage priorities accordingly. Regardless of how you manage these backlogs (Agile management software, digital Kanban boards, etc.), you should be able to sort these user stories by priority, such as deadline, ROI, or by client.
On an agile team, the Sprint Review meeting is an opportunity for the team to show off a little bit. Using an Agile software for Sprint reviews, you can display the work the team completed, increasing visibility and providing some psychological momentum for the team as they move into their next iteration.
Burndown charts allow project managers and executives to view the progress of a sprint including the number of stories and tasks included in a given sprint, hours completed, velocity of hours, and an estimate on the completion date. Having an Agile software with real-time Burndown charts can provide calculations of the percentage of work completed during a specific sprint.
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Finding the right Agile project management software
A few Agile project management software solutions do exist that offer the power and feature-rich capabilities of expensive solutions. Look for a solution, like Workfront, that features allows for:
- Automation and customization of processes
- High accessibility
- Real-time collaboration
- Tool integrations
- Repositories for project management documents
Workfront’s work management software supports multiple methodologies, so you can update project status in real-time and give everyone—regardless of methodology— visibility into how work is progressing.
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