We are all familiar with the word “agile” and in this article we will be discussing four agile management tools to consider. When talking about agile tools, basically, this involves different project and work management tools that can be used by a team or an organization to support their use of practices, especially back-log management. Though not entirely one of the best agile tools definitions, still it gives a wider perspective on different tools that can be used to making the entire agile thing not only swift, but also effective.
Categorization of Agile Tools
Evidently, this is where many people often get lost. It is to be noted that putting agile tools in different categories is not that easy of a task. Generally, there are three categories agile tools and include:
1. Tangible tools
2. Software-based agile tools
3. Non-agile software tools but in line with agile context
In addition, these tools can be categorized further into more categories when emphasis is put on their features. When using features to categorize agile tools, the following criteria are to be used:
- Daily Work Support- this involves features that can be used by a team to organize their everyday development work. They tools here include: task boards, separate collaboration tools and such.
- Agile Planning and Management Support- these includes features that are used by a team to organize their work process (agile work process). They include; backlog management support, and burn down charts to mention but a few.
- Traditional management Support- this includes all tools that originate from traditional project management that are more aimed at team administration. Under this feature, tool include; detailed reports, scheduling, forecast and resource management.
Classification of Agile Process
For us to determine exactly 4 agile management tools that are profoundly used, we first need to divide the agile process into three sub processes. In our discussion, we will be focusing on agile tools that are used in these three sub processes of agile development:
1. Release Planning and Tracking- basically, requirements, User stories and ultimately product Backlog.
2. Iteration Planning and Tracking- everything to do with iteration work items, assignments, tasks, dependencies and such.
3. Traceability to tests and defects- finally, tools that are for mapping acceptance tests are discussed
4 Agile management Tools to Consider
Tool 1: Product Vision Box and Elevator Test Statement
These are two separate tools that are used by a team to create a product vision. This tool literally dictates that projects produce products. This exercise requires that the entire team including the customers be grouped in groups of four to six people. What is to be discussed by this group should primarily deal with things like the product name, detailed product description and operating requirements. The group is supposed to come up with like 15 or 20 best features of the product, and then down them to only 4 or 5 that can compel someone to purchase the product. This should really be intense, discussions are supposed to revolve around all possible actions and wordings that can get a customer think about buying that product.
Now under elevator test statement, the team is expected to discuss features that will improve customers’ relationship. Here, strong words like “unlike other products + benefits of your products” need to be discussed. This product vision model is supposed to help the members pass the elevator test in like two minutes (the ability of a team member to discuss the project to anyone in two minutes). This should be paraphrased in the following context.
- For: mention the target customer
- Who: state why it’s a need
- The: (mention the product name) is a: (mention the product category)
- Mention the key benefit
- Provide the primary competitive alternative
- And finalize with a statement of primary differentiation.
Tool 2: Stakeholder Identification
This should be a project management’s task. For example, when selecting stakeholders, the following categorization should be used:
- Customers- you should target a group of people who are going to use the system and may assuming the system is a commercial product be a purchaser.
- Sponsors- these are key people who are champions of the product and are involved in key decisions concerning the product.
- Project manager- this is the person who lead the team and can be entrusted to deliver results.
- Project team- these are individuals both full and part time who are tasked with delivering results.
It is to be noted that, the more complex the stake holder group may seem to be, means that more time is to be invested in it. The project manager should first be keen to identify all people in the team before appointing stake holders.
Tool 3: Customer project team Interface
Basically, this tool is designed to help management in predicting customer relation. Customers are involved here in the making of day to day decisions about a particular product. These customers are relied upon on issues such as what need to be modified, their general product experience and the like. It is to be noted that one customer may not have all the answers but when different customers are put together, ultimately, something more concrete will emerge out of it. Both onsite and offsite customers are to be involved. Alternatively, social sites can be used to carry out a survey on onsite customers. To get fair answers from customers, consider engaging both loyal customers and even new ones.
Tool 4: Exploration Factor
This is so important for any team to move forward. It involves coming up with ideas and suggestions that revolves around things that can deter the whole team from progressing. In a nut shell, this tool is sometimes referred to as problem domain tool. Things to be considered when coming up with possible problems include; instability of products’ requirements, individuals stability in terms of working environment among many other things.
Experimentation is also expected to be explored when using this tool. The team should be in a better position to make projections based on updated current records. Things like “Erratic and Routine” are to be discussed. Knowing all likely possible problems puts you in position a better position to come up with strategies that will ensure every process runs swiftly and successfully.
Other Tools include; Product Architecture, Teamwork Communication and Resolution Making Plan, Guiding Principles, Features Card among many others. Actually, there are a myriad agile management tools. When choosing which tool to use, be sure to extensively expound on it for better results. Finally, in all decision making, unless otherwise, it is prudent that all stake holders are involved.