The Current State of Agile Project Management Tools

People > Tool

Let’s forget we have tools at all.

We’re just people trying to work together on projects.

But first, how do we ‘do’ projects?

What are the essential parts of completing a project?

  • Defining, prioritizing and tracking requirements
  • Developers developing
  • Knowing when something important happens
  • Having the context of who is doing what and when
  • Focusing on the most important task

Looking at this list, it becomes evident that there is one important aspect that binds these elements together:

Timely communication

What’s important is that we need to know specific information, when we need it.

In the product world, people work on their tasks, see what their team is doing, let their team know what they’re doing and use this context to decide what to do next.

“Nothing is less productive than to make more efficient what should not be done at all.” ― Peter Drucker

Making communication easy

Let’s look at an ideal workflow:

  • Product manager adds a feature card to the Kanban board (push status message to chat tool)
  • Developer pulls feature card and develops code (push source code message to chat tool)
  • Feature card on the Kanban board automatically moves with a developer’s smart commit message (push status message to chat tool)
  • Team member comments/blocks/readies feature card (push status message to chat tool)

The actions of the team gets communicated to the team as they happen.

It’s an amazingly simple concept — it’s natural communication.

  • Product managers don’t have to bug developers to see what they’re doing. It gets pushed into a chat tool.
  • Developers don’t have to bug product managers to look at their questions. It gets pushed into a chat tool.

The team can refer to the Kanban board and feature cards on a “needs” basis. No more page refreshes or pinned tabs.

Be in a project management tool when you need to be, but no longer.

Just because you’re in your project management tool for less doesn’t mean the tool is failing you. It usually means that you’re communicating better, and that’s what you want to be doing.

My personal project management stack is:

  • Blossom — agile project management
  • Slack — instant messaging
  • Github — source code management

The tools talk to each other. Aim for a similar set-up.

Keep it simple

Stay lean, focus on communication and don’t over engineer.

Remember, the key to successful projects is timely communication, not complicated tools and process.

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