Nowadays scrum tools are widely used by a great variety of businesses thanks to their countless advantages, such as the optimization of both workflow and collaboration, complete traceability and overall performance improvement. Scrum tools and software are key to bring efficiency to your teams and organization’s agile project management: learn more about what top scrum tools consist of and their main advantages.
The main advantages of agile scrum tools
Agile scrum has proven its efficiency and is now one of the most popular agile project management methods used by organizations. Why? Because it represents a workflow framework aiming at fostering team productivity and collaboration while continuously optimizing processes and product value through short iterations (or sprints), thanks to customers’ feedback.
For instance, according to the latest annual state of agile report, agile methods are being widely adopted by an increasing number of enterprises and, more precisely, the agile scrum method is the most popular one, accounting for at least 72% of the software professionals in different businesses.
Hence, the benefits of scrum tools and processes to ensure and optimize software development can be summed-up in three key points, as follows:
- Customer satisfaction enhancement: since customers’ needs are at the very heart of this agile method, scrum tools enable teams to better collaborate with their clients and consequently to satisfy them, by quickly delivering a product that meets both their requirements and expectations.
- Production costs reduction: agile scrum tools make it possible to optimize budget and better allocate resources to priority tasks and feature development that really provide value to the end customer. Actually, since the needs of this latter can change over time, agile scrum tools make it possible to modify any aspect of the product along the development process, without having to wait for it to be over. It ultimately means avoiding spending even more time and money for the product release.
- Teamwork optimization: using agile scrum software tools has a positive impact on overall collaboration among teams. In fact, these tools facilitate communication on a daily basis by providing team members with complete visibility and traceability on tasks, and more broadly on project’s progress, which ends up increasing teamwork productivity.
Top scrum tools must-have features
Each and every organization has specific needs and requirements to deal with, which means that the tools and methods to implement may considerably vary. However, when the time comes to opt for the best agile scrum tools for you, there’s a set of common criteria to evaluate. More precisely, it is important to make sure that your agile project management tool encompasses the following capabilities and features:
Product backlog management
A good scrum tool must provide agile teams with a centralized product backlog to easily create, manage, rank and plan tasks as well as to assign them to any team member or user involved in the project.
Release and milestone planning
Scrum tools help you better organize and run sprints by adjusting the prioritized project backlog to the upcoming events (i.e. sprint, release), breaking down epics and stories into smaller tasks to be accomplished. Moreover, agile scrum tools should evaluate both capacity – depending on team velocity at each sprint – and estimated effort to perform tasks.
Scrum graphical representations
The three most common scrum graphs used to track progress and teams performance are the burn-down chart, the burn-up chart and the velocity chart. Here’s a few more details:
- Burn-down chart: it represents a comparison between the planned work and the team progression over time. It is a scrum must-have tool to keep track of the remaining work to be completed and, at the same time, to make sure the team is running on schedule according to its capacity.
- Burn-up chart: this graph sums up pretty much the same information as the previous one, with the difference that it puts forward the increase in scope and total work. In other words, it is easier to monitor when new work is added throughout the product or software development process since the chart shows all the accomplished work to date.
- Velocity chart: the purpose of this graph is to show the amount of work that has been delivered during a sprint, in terms of the number of completed work units against the expected commitment. This ultimately displays the velocity of work flow.
The best scrum tools also include task boards to enhance agile project management and boost team efficiency. In fact, they enable teams to gain a clear insight into the project progress, thanks to a shared visual interface that displays all the planned, on going, blocked and even accomplished tasks and activities among users.
These cardwalls are easy to create and update: all you need to do is to drag and drop cards (each one of them corresponding to a specific task of a project, like a “post-it”) from one column to another until you finally get to the finish line. In short, this is a simple-to-use (but powerful!) tool that adapts to different organization’s needs, making it possible to point out any potential bottlenecks, while improving communication and collaboration among teams.
Reports and notifications
Make sure your agile scrum tool allows you to create both personal and project dashboards to share among users as to monitor all the metrics and items you choose (i.e. bug reports and updates, task boards, document reviews…), generating ad hoc reports and customized visual representations to track project status and data at a glance. Moreover, the best scrum tools provide automatic and real-time updates and notifications related to specific items of a project.
More than scrum tools to ensure efficiency
However, even the best scrum tool can do no magic all alone: in order to turn your agile project management into a real asset and competitive advantage, scrum tools should be used as part of a more comprehensive organizational process and mindset.
Actually, the best scrum tools support other agile practices and DevOps approaches by providing features for various third party application integrations to ensure high-quality collaboration and software releases.
For sure, a good enterprise agile planning tool (EAP) provides an all-in-one collaborative environment that brings together different teams and centralizes all the necessary tools, making it possible to effectively enhance software development management while keeping the focus on customers’ needs to create value.
As a result, DevOps flows can be easier implemented to put into effect an end-to-end continuos delivery pipeline (see below), through which development teams are able to reliably build, view and manage code, stocking relevant information about its development while also creating links to the corresponding stories, documents, tests or any other task of the project backlog.
As a consequence, fast and effective remote code review among teams is facilitated and teams can easily track and generate all the needed reports, even automatically, for continuous software development. At this point, it is also of paramount importance to consider test management features as to ensure continuous integration via the implementation of a sharp testing strategy.
Last but not the least, before choosing your scrum tool, make sure to take into account the efficiency of its issue tracking system. The ideal solution has to grant a unique end-to-end traceability throughout the whole product or software development lifecycle by connecting all the project’s items, both upstream and downstream.
This will inevitably have multiple positive impacts: more efficiency, increased value creation, transparency, high-level quality assurance and increased requirements compliance, just to name a few.