Finding software can be overwhelming. Software Advice has helped many teams choose the right agile project management software so they can prepare for and manage change over a project's life cycle.

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Project Insight

Project Insight (PI) is the work management hub helping companies manage projects, allocate personnel and track what work is being done throughout the entire organization. The intuitive software aggregates data from high-productivity... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 23 recommendations

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monday.com

monday.com, an award-winning collaboration and project management platform, helps teams plan together efficiently and execute complex projects to deliver results on time. monday.com team management and task management tool allows for... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 15 recommendations

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KeyedIn Projects

KeyedIn Projects is a cloud-based project management solution for enterprise-level companies offering a suite with features, such as program management, professional services automation and project portfolio management application.... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 13 recommendations

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Easy Projects

Easy Projects is a cloud-based project management platform suitable for midsize organizations and enterprises. Easy Projects provides every contributing team member, project manager, executive, stakeholder or customer with access... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 11 recommendations

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Workfront

Workfront is the leader in enterprise work management. Workfront connects strategy to delivery, integrating people and data across the enterprise, and manages work from start to finish for the delivery of measurable outcomes, all in... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 8 recommendations

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MPOWR Envision

Designed to eliminate rigid departmentalization and streamline strategic execution, MPOWR Envision helps organizations build an execution strategy using open communication and organizational alignment. As a cloud-based execution tool,... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 8 recommendations

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inMotion ignite

inMotion ignite is a creative project management software built specifically for the needs of creative and marketing teams. Combining the most powerful elements of task and workflow management with the collaborative features of online... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 7 recommendations

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Smartsheet

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 tools,... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 6 recommendations

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Polarion ALM

Polarion is a browser-based application lifecycle management (ALM) solution that allows businesses to manage all facets of the product development lifecycle. Designed for complex development environments, Polarion ALM utilizes built-in... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 5 recommendations

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Cora PPM

Cora Systems provide enterprise project and portfolio management solutions to global organizations and government agencies, such as Honeywell, Elanco, PwC, City of London and the UK’s National Health Service. Their solution, Cora... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 4 recommendations

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Sciforma

Sciforma is a cloud-based project and portfolio management solution for enterprises that allows to strategically track and analyze project data and make relevant decisions. It can be sold as a stand-alone portfolio management, project... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 3 recommendations

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Aysling

Aysling is a cloud-based enterprise resource solution that can run an entire business, from leads to sales, through delivery to payments. Aysling is easy to deploy, configure, use, and manage while offering top-level support and... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 3 recommendations

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Mavenlink

Mavenlink offers services and solutions for project management, resource planning, collaboration, and project accounting. Mavenlink combines the robust functionality of a Professional Services Automation solution with intuitive user-friendly... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 2 recommendations

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WorkOtter

WorkOtter is a SaaS project, resource, and portfolio management solution built for teams of 50-200 who demand a simple, sensible, and supportable PPM alternative. Touting over 50 gorgeous, configurable, and full animated dashboards,... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 2 recommendations

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Wrike

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 for... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 1 recommendations

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Workamajig

Workamajig is a cloud-based HTML5 project management solution designed for creative ad agencies and in-house advertising teams of all sizes. Key features include opportunity tracking, project management, time tracking, resource management... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 1 recommendations

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AchieveIt

AchieveIt is a cloud-based solution designed to help medium to large organizations in healthcare, government, utilities, enterprise, education, and more organize and integrate multiple plans, progress updates, and reports in a centralized... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 1 recommendations

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Forecast

Forecast helps midsized Agencies, Consultants, Software teams and Architects kick their spreadsheets to the curb and start delivering profitable projects every time. The platform provides an intuitive interface to manage your projects,... Read more

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Deltek WorkBook

Deltek WorkBook is a cloud-based agency management system that provides a way to manage resources, schedule jobs and record time. With this system, organizations can manage projects, control budget, store documents and more. Deltek... Read more

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Kimble

Kimble focuses exclusively on professional services automation (PSA), innovating a best-in-class SaaS platform that works seamlessly with CRM. Recommended by global leaders in consulting, software and hi-tech, Kimble helps professional... Read more

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Buyers guide


Last Updated: January 1, 2021

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).