7 tools tuned for agile development success

Dev shops versed in agile development can choose from a wealth of rapidly improving project management tools to hone their processes.

7 tools tuned for agile development success
Credit: Alexandr Mitiuc
7 tools tuned for agile development success

Agile development remains an increasingly popular way for development teams to get work done. The iterative alternative to fully mapped-out waterfall processes has become widely accepted in recent years, bringing with it software tools designed to help agile practitioners hone their processes, collaborate efficiently, and monitor progress.

Companies like Atlassian, Axosoft, Microsoft, and others have been filling the niche for agile project management. Since we first rounded up agile project management tools in 2013, these tools have seen noteworthy improvements.

Here's another look at the more effective agile-oriented project management tools and what's been improved in them in the past year.

Atlassian Jira
Atlassian Jira

Atlassian's Jira is a popular tool for tracking product development, enabling teams to organize issues, assign work, and follow team activity. Its Jira Agile add-on facilitates key agile strategies, including the development of user stories, building of sprint backlogs, and visualization of team activities.

Jira has seen three point releases in the past year. Version 6.1 added an HTML5-based workflow editor and issue branch workflow capabilities to enable development teams to manage code in smaller branches. Version 6.2, introduced in March, brought development artifacts into one place so that each issue becomes a dashboard. Version 6.3, unveiled in August, improved Jira’s best-practices implementation and project tracking capabilities. Atlassian’s Jira Portfolio, released in September, provides a single view of work across projects and teams.

Axosoft
Axosoft

Previously known as Axosoft OnTime Scrum, the Axosoft scrum software suite features four modules: Scrum, Bug Tracker, Help Desk, and Wiki. This HTML5-based offering helps development teams manage backlog, releases, and sprints, featuring burndown charts and a management dashboard for tracking time spent coding features and fixing bugs.

Axosoft has been updated to improve team management and include SMS notification capabilities, and the daily Scrum capability offers a quick snapshot of a team’s progress. Other improvements include cut-and-paste and drag-and-drop capabilities, dashboard enhancements, and redesigned audit trails.

LeanKit
LeanKit

LeanKit uses a cloud-based whiteboard metaphor for mapping out organization processes. Cards represent work items, and status updates are provided. Teams that use LeanKit can see workload distribution and export historical data.

Recently, LeanKit was upgraded to include single sign-on capabilities and additional reporting functions for surfacing more fine-grained details about data. LeanKit has also been integrated with enterprise project portfolio management tools like Microsoft Project Server and Oracle Primavera, as well as Microsoft’s Team Foundation Server for ALM.

Future plans include adding the ability for users to build customized reports via the Tableau reporting engine. LeanKit offers mobile versions for Android and iOS and plans to improve its mobile apps to bring feature parity with what can be done in the browser-based version of the service.

Microsoft Visual Studio Team Foundation Server
Microsoft Visual Studio Team Foundation Server

TFS (Team Foundation Server) is Microsoft's application lifecycle management server for collaborative development under Visual Studio. Its recent upgrades include work item performance enhancements, improvements to its rich text editor, and improved hyperlink experience in the rich text editor. TFS’s Kanban board has also been improved, increasing the number of items that can be entered and tracked, and the server now features a “stakeholder” license for regulating specific access to the server.

Stakeholders get capabilities such as full read/write/create access to all work items but no access to code, build, or test hubs. These changes to TFS are featured in the second Community Technology Preview of TFS 20123 Update 4, which was released in September.

Planbox
Planbox

The Planbox agile management tool tracks progress via burndown charts, integrates customer feedback, and is aimed at a wide range of personnel. It has recently seen updates to both the front and back ends of the application, with more powerful reporting and a new dashboard to improve project velocity. A time-tracking feature and tools to allow users to get any set of data they have within Planbox are expected to be added soon.

Rally Agile Platform
Rally Agile Platform

This cloud-based agile lifecycle management platform scales to an unlimited number of teams and features custom pages and dashboards to automate various development processes.

Foundational capabilities have been added to Rally as of late to support business agility, including integration with the Flowdock Enterprise team collaboration app for mobile, desktop, and the Web. The platform also features Rally Insights, which provides benchmarking data diagnostic analysis and expert advice.

Additional capabilities currently in beta are aimed at providing faster access to information, improving planning capabilities, and improving navigation. Rally has also announced software and services offerings to improve performance and business agility, including Rally Program Launch, which offers software, coaching, and training to launch agile programs.

Telerik TeamPulse
Telerik TeamPulse

Telerik TeamPulse helps manage requirements and bugs, offering bidirectional synchronization with Microsoft's Team Foundation Service (the cloud-based version of TFS) and supporting Kanban and Scrum.

Updates to TeamPulse range from release management improves to Git and GitHub repository integration, a REST API, and Favorite Views, which marks frequently used TeamPulse views for easy access. TeamPulse’s REST API enables easier integration with other tools, while its release management improvements enable users to assign features to releases, break down features into stories, assign stories to iterations, and monitor progress. Users can now clone work items so that they do not have to create similar work items from scratch. Work items can also now be converted from one type to another, such as Bug to Story or Feedback to Bug.