Remember Titanic? Who doesn't! Beside telling one of the greatest love stories of our time, the movie reminds us of an extremely important metaphor -- the one of an iceberg. You have most probably heard that only 10% of its volume is visible and the rest lies below the water. It works the same way in life, doesn't it? Not everything that you see is what you get and that is exactly why you may sometimes need some help, that is also why software development teams working with the agile methodology may need some tools. Why? Time to find out below!
No need to wonder why the agile methodology has been on the verge of popularity for quite a while now, considering the fact that only 1% of organisations reported an agile failure in a survey run by VersionOne. In software application development, the agile methodology helps development teams to keep things (and especially codes) simple, become more flexible and, what is the most important, deliver exactly what the client needs as soon as possible. It is based on continuous planning and feedback, so you do not have to panic when your client changes their vision yet another time.
Why the tools
The very first core value of the Agile Manifesto is to value individuals and interactions over processes and tools. Why, you ask, am I writing about agile software development tools then? The answer is simple -- despite what many people think, developing software solutions is often very complex and the tools recommended below may turn out to be essential when dealing with the issues related to not just coding, but business in general.
How to choose one
Not every tool may be appropriate for both your team and the specific project you're currently working on, but there are several metrics that seem to be universal and to which you should pay close attention when choosing the right tool, and these are:
1. Communication - the most important thing in developing software solutions while using the agile methodology, is for your team to collaborate in the most effective way. You will need features that would enable you and your team members to communicate easily by both giving and receiving feedback, as individuals and interactions are the most vital things.
2. Identification - another core value of the Agile Manifesto is to value responding to change over following a plan. The agile methodology allows development teams to become more flexible than ever, but in order to do that you need to make sure everything is clear and everyone knows what to do and what you're doing.
3. Reporting - being flexible is very demanding and that is why a feature allowing you and your team members to report any change should be your top priority when choosing the appropriate tool. Time tracking and progress reporting will most definitely improve the flow of your work.
4. Analytics - developing software solutions is a long process and you never stop learning. Analyzing one project, how much time it took to deliver it, what obstacles you have had to deal with, may be beneficial when you and your team start working on another product.
As you can see, all three metrics are very similar and they complement each other, however, using them does not equal succeeding. You can find lots of other features including sprint review or multi-project support that some development teams will find relevant and helpful, while others won't.
The best thing to do before choosing the right tool is to gather your team and think about what you actually expect the tool to support you with, whether your organisation is experienced in working with the Agile methodology or not ready to use some advanced features. Many companies offer free trial versions, but that does not mean you should try them all, as it could do more harm than good.