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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Smartsheet

Smartsheet is a work execution platform with a familiar spreadsheet-like interface that helps teams plan, track, and manage projects in real-time. The collaborative platform offers a range of project management tools, such as document... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 32 recommendations

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Workfront

Workfront (formerly AtTask) is a cloud-based project management solution that helps teams to prioritize, route, manage and report on their work. It is suitable for businesses of any size and industry including IT, architecture and... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 23 recommendations

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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 assignment... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 18 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: 7 recommendations

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Wrike

Wrike is a cloud-based project management platform for teams of 20+ and is suitable for both enterprise and SMB. It comes with Gantt charts, calendars, workload view for resource management, custom dashboards and real-time updates.... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 4 recommendations

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Kintone

Kintone is a cloud-based platform that lets you store, share, and analyze data with your team from anywhere. Designed for people with complex operations and limited resources, Kintone gives you the ability to personally build and... 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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Targetprocess

Targetprocess is a cloud-based, modular project management solution that allows users to visualize and manage projects using any combination of Kanban, Scrum or the user’s own preset work solution.  The solution features an array... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 1 recommendations

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Taskworld

Taskworld is a project management software designed for companies of all sizes. It offers task management, project planning, collaboration and reporting. The product is available for deployment in the cloud and offers mobile applications... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 1 recommendations

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Sitetracker

Sitetracker is a cloud-based project management solution designed to help enterprises manage high-volume distributed projects. Key features include collaboration, planning and forecasting, performance analysis, reporting and more. Sitetracker... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 1 recommendations

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Hive

Hive is a cloud-based project management solution designed for teams of all sizes who need to share files, chat and automate task management. It includes workflow templates, group messaging, multiple task views and over 100 app integrations. Hive... Read more

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Demand Metric

Demand Metric is a cloud-based agile project management solution designed for marketing professionals, product managers, consultants and marketing tech vendors. The solution caters to various segments such as customer engagement, digital... Read more

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Project Insight

Project Insight is a project and portfolio management solution for project driven organizations. It provides visibility into the workloads of resources, project budget, and status, with real-time reports. Project Insight is a collaborative... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 38 recommendations

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BVDash

BVDash is a cloud-based project management solution designed for various industry verticals. The solution offers a dashboard that can be used by project teams to access various systems and tools. Key features include issue management,... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 8 recommendations

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Trello

Trello is a visual collaboration tool for planning tasks and projects. While commonly used by agile software development teams, the solution is also used in other departments such as marketing, sales, support and HR. The web-based... Read more

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Asana

Asana is a cloud-based project and task management solution that enables companies and ad agencies to manage and organize tasks and projects, communicate and collaborate. It is helpful for teams and companies that handle multiple projects... Read more

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Jira

Jira Software is a software development 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 roadmaps to... Read more

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monday.com

monday.com is a cloud-based project management solution that caters to small to midsize businesses across various industry verticals. The solution helps them manage different projects and facilitate knowledge-sharing among team members. monday.com... Read more

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Hubstaff

Hubstaff is a comprehensive time tracking and work management solution for project teams. In addition to providing web, mobile and desktop timers, Hubstaff lets business owners send invoices, pay team members, view over 13 detailed... Read more

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MeisterTask

MeisterTask is a cloud-based project and task management solution that caters to businesses of all sizes. Key features include file management, time tracking and reporting. MeisterTask offers a dashboard that helps users view current... Read more

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Buyer's guide


Last Updated: March 23, 2019

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).