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What are the best agile and scrum tools available for your team?

We take a look at three popular saas agile and Scrum tools.

Here at Download Frenzy, we get thousands of people submitting their free and paid software each month. From time-to-time, we like to surf the inter webs and take a closer look at some of the best. This time, we are going to look at the ever growing in popularity niche related to agile and Scrum. To some, the word "agile" is just a buzz word, but to MANY others, it is a way of life for their organization's development process. Dev teams and companies that have fully transitioned and embraced agile claim to be experiencing an overall higher rate of productivity.

waterfall development For those of you who are not familiar with Scrum in the development and programming context, let's take a look at how the Scrum Alliance defines Scrum; "Scrum is an agile framework for completing complex projects. Scrum originally was formalized for software development projects, but works well for any complex, innovative scope of work. The possibilities are endless. The Scrum framework is deceptively simple." Keep in mind that being "agile" is not easy and exposes weaknesses in almost any team and/or company. The great part is, that you get a chance to fix those problems and then create awesome software (or whatever you make).

OK, now that we got the quick introduction out of the way, let's dive into exploring which agile and scrum tools are the best for dev teams and organizations looking to not only transition into being agile, but also looking to SCALE agile without the wheels falling off. Keep in mind that you don't HAVE to have a tool to be agile, however, for distributed teams, bigger teams, etc, tools can make everyone's life easier (and more efficient) by automating processes and everyday tasks that take away from what truly counts, building awesome software.

1) OnTime Scrum

Screen shots and Highlights for OnTime

main scrum page

This is their main grid view that shows your items in your product backlog. You can group by various things. For example, you can group by user, workflow process, priority, etc. Also, you can see your projects/folders, user and release/sprints in the left pane. Drag-and-drop is available in this view, so you are able to assign certain items to a project, sprint, or user.


scrum planning board page

The agile planning board is really cool. You can easily see a visual representation of all of your items. I like this view the best. You have the ability to drag-and-drop cards from one section to the other.


sprint dashboard reports

OnTime comes with a pretty powerful dashboard that allows for you to make as many dashboards as you need. Create a pie chart with items open, assigned, not assigned, closed. Show your burndown chart etc.


Pricing

OnTime was one of the most affordable agile tools that had a HELL of a lot of features. It is $7 user/month for their scrum and bug tracking package or you can get a 10-user pack for just $10 per month. Crazy cheap. They offer a 30-day free trial to get started.

Learn more about this agile tool at http://www.ontimenow.com/



2) Version One

Screen shots and Highlights for Version One

version one product ranking

This screen shot shows you can rank various features. Feature ranking is part of the their various "Product Planning" options. Other features include backlog planning, themes, customer requests, and ideas management.

version one's dashboard

VersionOne comes with pre-packaged dashboards that offer visibility to agile metrics. Similar to other tools, it has burndown charts, velocity trends, defect trending, and others.

version one's planning board

They also offer a planning board to visually represent your data. They mention that you can "Manage Scrum and Kanban in one tool". I did see that they don't offer the kanban board in their free "community" edition.

Pricing

Interestingly enough, Rally also offers 4 different pricing options [community, express, enterprise, and ultimate], but for their fully featured "Ultimate" edition, it is $49/user/month, which is on the higher end of pricing I saw while looking at various other tools. "Community", their limited featured edition, can be used for free (up to 10 users - one team). They also offer a 30-day free trial. Rally also requires a minimum of an annual commitment when signing up.

Learn more about version one at http://www.versionone.com/



3) Rally

Screen shots and Highlights for Rally

rally's backlog ranking

This screen shot shows you where you can manage your backlog. Add, edit, and delete items in your backlog. Drag and drop the various items into the order you would like.

rallydev's dashboard

Their home tab is their dashboard. You can add panes if you wish. In this example, you can see that they have "my tasks", "blocked work", "iteration burndown, and few other panes in their dashboard.

rally's planning board (kanban)

Their kanban board is only available with their "Ultimate" edition (see pricing below), however, you can see by the screen shot that there is a workflow with "defined, in-progress, completed, and accepted". The cards show the parent item with tasks associated with a counter of tasks needed to complete the parent item. For example, Sara has completed 4 of 6 tasks.

Pricing

Version one has 4 different pricing options [team, catalyst, enterprise, and ultimate], but for their fully featured "Ultimate" edition, it is $39/user/month, which is slightly lower than Rally's pricing. The free "team" edition (max 10 users - one team) has limited features, but you can try it out. They also offer a 30-day free trial for their other editions. One thing to keep in mind is that Version one does require a minimum of an annual commitment when signing up.

Learn more about Rally at http://www.rallydev.com/



Conclusion

So, which of these agile software solutions is the best for your development team? That is a question that only you and your team can decide. Which one do I like the best?

I personally prefer OnTime. Here a few of the reasons why:

  • There is no arguing that OnTime's pricing is better than VersionOne or Rally.
  • What is interesting is that VersionOne and Rally both have a free edition, but because of the limitations, I didn't fully get the most out of the products.
  • I couldn't justify paying $39-49 per user for either of their "Ultimate" editions to get some of the features that OnTime has that Rally and VersionOne make you pay a premium for. (i.e. kanban board)
  • VersionOne and Rally have an OLD look and feel to them, while I enjoy the UI of OnTime more.
  • OnTime seemed faster and easier to get to the things that I needed to without having to go through multiple levels

Comparing what we needed as a team here at Download Frenzy and for the price, we decided to go with OnTime. I suggest you give them all a try and see what works best for your company. Thanks for reading the article and please feel free to send me any questions at feedback[at]downloadfrenzy[dot]com

11-2-2012 : 313 /12122 online, 1154 searches, 329 downloads, 11 new

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