Agile Project Management Tips:

You can accurately plan in detail only for nearby tasks...Question the use of Gantt charts. ...there seems to be growing evidence that Gantt charts have little value on agile projects (although my experience is that a high-level Gantt chart ...does provide value to help you think through major dependencies, just don't go any further than that). My 2007 Agile Adoption Survey showed that Gantt charts are the least valuable work product on agile projects whereas iteration task lists were one of the most valuable. I like to say that ...The people doing the work must be actively involved in scheduling. They're motivated to get it right, they .. contd

Project Management Software for Agile Development Projects

Agile development is a software development methodology which has attracted growing support in recent years. Originating in some innovative ideas about software projects held by some highly respected computer programmers such as Kent Beck, the incipient movement acquired a high public profile with the signing of the Agile Manifesto in 2001. Challenging the existing methodologies which emphasised big detailed upfront design, Agile instead urged flexibility, completing projects in small incremental steps, testing continuously, seeking client input continuously, and welcoming even last-minute changes in requirements.


Project Management Software

Many agile methods practitioners, after bitter experience, have concluded that trying to manage agile development projects with traditional project management software, such as Microsoft Project, is a mug’s game. Why? They say that Microsoft Project encourages the Waterfall approach to project management, under which the project has clearly defined, non-overlapping phases of planning, developing and testing. Agile development methodology, on the other hand, encourages an iterative approach to development, according to which project progress is made in small mini-cycles of planning, developing and testing. But ah, say Gantt chart defenders, those mini-cycles are just small waterfalls so you could still model them in Microsoft Project. In agile projects, though, retort the sceptics, planning and testing often occur concurrently with the actual software development so no clear separation is possible. And even if you did build little Gannt charts for each project cycle, they would have little value. Agile methodology stresses flexibility. Work is not planned out precisely in advance. Developers work on whatever they feel is best to help achieve that cycle’s goals. And often there will be few or no dependencies between the tasks in each cycle. So Gannt charts lose much of their value.

Some agile practitioners eschew what might be thought of as traditional project management altogether. The whole business of maintaining little charts seems like part of the absurd and unproductive artificiality that Agile methods were intended to rebel against. Some prefer extremely lightweight approaches to planning, such as, for example, having everyone sit round a table and write things on cards. In this vein, some opt for lightweight project management software options too. Trac is piece of open-source software that has become quite popular in agile development circles. Although it is, in essence, a bug-tracking tool, it has taken the place of project managment software in not a few projects. This makes some sense if you think about it. After all, features are at the heart of the Agile approach, and there’s not a whole world of difference between a bug, and an unfulfilled feature. So using a bug-tracking tool to track project progress seems, to many, like a natural fit.

But if you’re looking for something a little larger in scope, what options are there? Recent years have seen a few project management tools emerge which were specifically designed for use in agile environments. One is V1 : Agile Enterprise from Version One. Available either as software you can install locally on the desktop or as a web service, it has a variety of pricing models too. A free version which supports up to 5 users is available but comes with no upgrades or support. Other versions are available on either permanent license or periodic subscription basis.

Agile Enterprise comes with a number of templates designed to support the various agile methodologies which exist, including XP, Scrum and DSDM (Dynamic Systems Development Method). Features are very much the focus of Agile Enterprise’s approach, as they are for iterative development teams generally. In each iteration, some features will be selected for inclusion based on their importance to the customer or their significance as building blocks within the overall software architecture. The core of a programming project in V1 : Agile Enterprise is the feature list. Features can be assigned to developers or teams, their progress tracked, and bugs related to them viewed.

One distinctive feature of V1 : Agile Enterprise is that it aspires to be the central repository around which the entire project revolves rather than, as is so often the case, an external tool which someone must struggle to keep in synchronicity with the actual flow of events. Customer requests, bug reports, task assignments all flow naturally in and out of the tool’s database. A variety of reporting or viewing options are available, including dashboard views for executives, Burndown view, Velocity views and, for those nostalgic for the old ways, even Gannt charts can be generated.

Another popular tool for project management in Agile development circles is Rally from Rally software. Like V1, it thinks big and wants to sit at the heart of almost everything. As well as all the usual features such as Burndown and Velocity charts, add-on modules link the core development tracking up with the sales and support systems (including, optionally,, so that customers who have filed bugs or feature requests can be notified automatically of new iterations of the software which will address them.

Rally is a another of the increasingly popular “on-demand” applications through which users access the application as a web service. A number of price and feature options are available including a basic but still fairly functional version for free which can handle teams of up to 10 members, and other monthly subscription options which can handle a greater number of team members and add more enterprise features such as the ability to handle multiple projects, a role-based permission system for team members and stakeholders and enhanced support facilities.


Few agile practitioners take traditional project management applications seriously, but, as this article makes clear, some innovative software has emerged to take their place and support the implementation of the new methodology.