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Smartsheet

FrontRunners 2024

Smartsheet is a work execution platform and collaboration tool with a familiar spreadsheet-like interface that helps teams plan, track, and manage projects in real-time. Smartsheet features include a range of project management to...Read more about Smartsheet

4.5 (3262 reviews)

33 recommendations

monday.com

FrontRunners 2024

monday.com is an award-winning work and project management platform that helps teams of all sizes plan, prioritize, manage, and execute their work more effectively. The platform offers solutions for a wide range of use-cases such...Read more about monday.com

4.6 (4663 reviews)

22 recommendations

Ravetree

Ravetree is a cloud-based project management solution with integrated resource planning, customer relationship management and time and expense tracking capabilities. The solution helps users manage project workflows, task assignme...Read more about Ravetree

4.4 (22 reviews)

13 recommendations

Wrike

FrontRunners 2024

Wrike is a cloud-based project management platform for teams of 20+ that is suitable for both large enterprises and SMBs. It supports remote work for various teams. This solution comes with Gantt charts, calendars, workload view f...Read more about Wrike

4.3 (2646 reviews)

11 recommendations

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Quickbase

Quickbase is a no-code collaborative work management platform that empowers citizen developers to improve operations through real-time insights and automations across complex processes and disparate systems. Here's why Quickbase i...Read more about Quickbase

4.4 (302 reviews)

11 recommendations

Nimble Enterprise

Nimble - Collaborative Lean/ Agile Work Management Platform. Nimble comes with a unique combination of features to manage traditional and Agile projects for a wide variety of industries. It combines a Hybrid Agile Program/ Project...Read more about Nimble Enterprise

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3 recommendations

Jira

FrontRunners 2024

Jira Software is a business process management tool used by agile teams to plan, track and release software. Jira Software supports Scrum, Kanban, a hybrid model or another unique workflow. Jira enables users to create project r...Read more about Jira

Asana

FrontRunners 2024

Asana is a comprehensive project management tool that offers a range of technical features to streamline workflows and enhance collaboration within teams. With its user-friendly interface and robust capabilities, Asana provides or...Read more about Asana

GitHub

GitHub is a project management and code sharing platform that allows users to share their codes with others and create/iterate using collective intelligence. The software can be used for different kinds of coding assignments inclu...Read more about GitHub

ClickUp

FrontRunners 2024

ClickUp is a cloud-based collaboration and project management tool suitable for businesses of all sizes and industries. Features include communication and collaboration tools, task assignments and statuses, alerts and a task toolb...Read more about ClickUp

Confluence

Confluence is a project management solution that enables organizations to create, collaborate, organize and review project documents. The system offers both cloud-based and on-premise deployment. Confluence’s editor feature a...Read more about Confluence

Miro

FrontRunners 2024

Miro is a visual workspace for innovation that enables distributed teams of any size to dream, design, and build the future together. Miro enables distributed teams to come together to synthesize information, clarify complex idea...Read more about Miro

MeisterTask

MeisterTask is a web-based task, project, and work management software perfect for teams of any size. Its easy-to-use interface, intuitive functionality, built-in project documentation, and seamless integration with other busine...Read more about MeisterTask

GitLab

GitLab is a cloud-based project management platform that allows software developers to develop and manage codes collaboratively. The platform can be deployed either on-premise or in the cloud. GitLab helps developers manage t...Read more about GitLab

Zoho Projects

Right from 2006, Zoho Projects has been a major contributor to every project management need. Automating workflows, allocating tasks, recording time logs, relaying project updates, effective team collaboration, gathering analytica...Read more about Zoho Projects

Targetprocess

Targetprocess is a cloud-based enterprise visual platform which connects Portfolio, Products and Teams. The tool perfectly reflects the agile methodology and can help any company to adopt and scale agile across the enterprise...Read more about Targetprocess

Aha!

Aha! is the world's #1 product development software. We help more than 1 million product builders bring their strategy to life. Our suite of tools includes Aha! Roadmaps, Aha! Ideas, Aha! Whiteboards, Aha! Knowledge, and Aha! Deve...Read more about Aha!

Nifty

FrontRunners 2024

Nifty is a new-wave project management tool that reduces project development cycles and improves team productivity by combining all of the important features of project management into one software. The end result is milestone-dri...Read more about Nifty

Favro

Favro is a project management and collaboration tool with which developers, marketers and executives can plan, track and evolve ideas. Designed to suit the size and needs of any project, Favro allows users to add features and inte...Read more about Favro

Lucidspark

Lucidspark is a cloud-based software designed to help businesses of all sizes record and share ideas, discuss projects and organize information on a virtual white-board. The platform enables organizations to capture suggestions an...Read more about Lucidspark

Buyers Guide

Last Updated: March 16, 2023

Agile project management refers to an incremental approach to managing projects that helps teams address and respond to change and uncertainty over the course of a project life cycle.

Agile project management software supports this iterative process and facilitates the transparency and collaboration required by agile teams to successfully deliver value.

This guide will help you understand agile project management and how it differs from traditional project management. We’ll also explain the role of agile project management tools within the larger project management space, so you can choose the right software to fit your workflows.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

Agile vs. Waterfall Project Management

What Is Agile Project Management Software?

Common Capabilities of Agile Project Management Software

What Type of Buyer Are You?

Market Trends to Understand

Agile vs. Waterfall Project Management

Agile and “waterfall,” i.e., traditional project management (PM), are different approaches, or methodologies, for managing projects.

Waterfall PM is sequential and change averse. Requirements are agreed upon at the start of a project and benchmarks set for scope, budget and timeline. Then, work flows from one phase to the next until completion, and project success is measured by how closely the project delivers against the initial plan.

Agile PM is iterative and designed to help teams embrace change. By completing work in incremental phases and incorporating feedback loops into their workflows, agile teams can address uncertainty and better adapt to changing needs over the course of a project life cycle.

Agile project success is measured by the ultimate value delivered to the end user/customer via “continuous improvement” throughout the project, rather than “breakthrough improvement” all at once at the close of a project.

Agile works well for projects (and industries) where requirements are uncertain at the start of a project, or are likely to change over the course of a project life cycle. For that reason, it's especially popular with IT teams and software developers.

Conversely, waterfall PM is best for projects (and industries) that require in-depth planning to iron out the scope, budget and timeline before work can begin, e.g., within construction.

What Is Agile Project Management Software?

The core principles of agile PM are largely based on the Agile Manifesto (initially developed for software development), and emphasize:

  • The importance of collaboration in fostering innovation

  • The significance of feedback loops and iterative workflows in facilitating inspection and continuous improvement

  • The value in embracing and responding to change over following a plan

According to Andrew Hunt, one of the 17 founders of the Agile Manifesto, the fundamental premise of agile is to inspect and adapt—to do something, get feedback, change what you’re doing and be responsive.

“Agile” is more of a mindset held by teams and/or organizations rather than a set of specific tools. However, there are specialized project management systems used by agile teams that help them accomplish their goals. For the purpose of this guide, we are referring to these specialized tools as “agile project management software.”

Agile project management software supports the above processes in several ways, including:

Creating a centralized workspace. The tool acts as a single repository and searchable database housing all project documentation and communication. This promotes transparency and creates a shared understanding of project (or product) goals, team workflows and KPIs for measuring success.

Facilitating collaboration. Users can view their individual tasks and team responsibilities on shared boards, participate in wikis and discussion forums and invite other users to share their ideas and input. Additionally, features such as file sharing, @mentions, activity feeds and shared boards allow teams to communicate with each other and stay up-to-date.

Tracking progress and measuring performance. The “single view” provided by the tool helps teams monitor the progression of work items, as well as give and receive feedback. Dashboards and reports track user performance, providing valuable data on user and team productivity, efficiency and output.

Planning-room-in-VersionOne

Planning room in VersionOne

Common Capabilities of Agile Project Management Software

Two of the most popular frameworks for implementing agile are scrum and kanban. Although both scrum and kanban systems have unique and defining features (click through to those category pages for a breakdown), there are several agile capabilities that each of these frameworks have in common.

These common capabilities are what you should look for as you evaluate agile solutions:

Visual project management

Increasing project visibility is crucial for agile teams. This transparency is achieved using boards, e.g., scrum or kanban boards. Boards can represent teams or projects. So for example, one board may encase a single team’s responsibilities across all projects, or it may include all cross-departmental tasks for just one project. Each board is broken down by columns that depict different stages in the team’s (or project’s) workflow. Tasks are represented by cards that users move across the board as the work item progresses through the workflow.

Reporting

While both scrum and kanban teams track and report on success metrics, the individual KPIs will differ across disciplines. Scrum teams look at the rate at which teams complete work items and their pace of work (burndown and velocity charts). Kanban teams set guards to regulate the flow of tasks and track the throughput of tasks and the team’s pace of work (work-in-progress limits and lead and cycle time).

Task management

As work items are placed on the board, assign tasks to users and schedule start and end dates. Users can set up automatic notifications to alert them of new assignments, impending due dates and status updates. Managers and users can track the progression of tasks as they move across the board.

Time tracking

Time tracking is critical to both agile disciplines. This metric is used in calculating scrum team velocity as well as kanban team lead time and cycle time. It is an important KPI in judging individual user productivity and team efficiency and can help leadership make informed decisions when taking on new jobs as to the time required to finish the project.

Workflow mapping

Another key aspect of agile transparency is a shared understanding of workflows. Workflows are visually depicted on the board, which helps users see at a glance where a work item came from and where it needs to go next. Teams can define workflows using labels and filters, which helps to standardize the process, meaning that any new person or fresh eyes on the project will share the same understanding as those deeply involved in the day-to-day project activities.

What Type of Buyer Are You?

According to VersionOne’s 11th annual State of Agile report, the top industries practicing agile project management include:

  • Software

  • Financial services

  • Professional services

Additionally, the vast majority of organizations (80 percent) say their agile maturity is at or below “still maturing.”

This is likely indicative of the spread of agile into other industries besides software development (where it was initially pioneered), and shows that businesses and teams are still trying to learn, understand and fully adopt agile practices.

With so many organizations new to agile, it can be hard to know where to start when choosing agile PM software. It’s imperative for teams to establish basic agile workflow processes before implementing software, otherwise they risk a GIGO scenario (garbage in, garbage out), or may adapt their workflows to the tool and wind up “doing scrum” without being agile, for example.

We’ve outlined several tips for choosing the right agile project management system in our free e-book. These include:

  1. Start off simple

  2. Analyze your team’s workflows

  3. Know which method (kanban or scrum) is best for which type of team

  4. Assess purchase drivers

  5. Evaluate integration requirements

  6. Identify tools and vet products

(Click on the link above to download your free copy and learn which agile tool is right for you.)

Market Trends to Understand

The implementation of agile continues to expand outside the software development sphere. In Gartner’s 2016 Hype Cycle for Project and Portfolio Management, agile plays a much more extensive role as a relevant technology, methodology and discipline than it has in years past. For this report (and likely upcoming Hype Cycles as well) Gartner looks at the prevalence of agile past its typical application in the software development space and examines its use and expected impact on improving business agility. (The full report is available to Gartner clients.)

Although agile has become increasingly popular, it has not replaced waterfall. In a recent survey of current project management software user's, disciplines were split, nearly 50/50 among respondents. It’s important to remember that not every project is conducive for agile, just as every project is not conducive to waterfall. And of course, you’re likely to find more agile teams within certain fields than in others. However, at the end of the day bear in mind that while agile is becoming increasingly popular, it has not replaced waterfall (yet).