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The most common reason I hear for using agile project management software is because teams are dispersed.
Time is spent every day discussing the software at the expense of actual work or team improvements. People believe the value of an agile board or scrum board is simply to report to management. The software continues to get more complicated for everyone to use, enter information into, and adjust — to the point that you have or will soon have, people dedicated only to managing the data in the software! People keep adding more and more fields to the software, to track more metrics, but no one has asked what the outcomes of tracking that data will be. If you are a new team or organization using agile and most or all of your teams are co-located — ALWAYS start with a physical board. If you make the decision to use a tool, and it is a decision, use something that is simple and use it as simply as possible. Using agile project management software requires you to really break down what you are using the software for and why you actually need it.
Subscribe to receive emails with my new posts and Agile Safari cartoons and Follow me on Twitter or Google +  to stay in touch! Jake Calabrese is a coach, trainer, and coach-consultant working to improve Agile practices, address cultural challenges, and move teams and leaders to go beyond yesterday’s best practices to better practices. About Farshad Farshad is a Tech Blogger from Pakistan who has worked for numerous international Technology Blogs. Some seem to take the extreme position that if you have a dispersed team(s), you are stupid. Signals can be explored before a decision to use agile project management software is made and on an ongoing basis. You learn so much more about what is happening, team relationship improves, they are more interactive, they minimize extra processing, and so much more. Even the big tools have simpler ways to use them, if you look at them from an effectiveness standpoint.
You need to understand and actively observe how the software affects people’s abilities to work together as a team.
Jake created the AgileSafari cartoon series to introduce some laughs into the more challenging issues we have to tackle.
Because of this complexity, large projects – particularly information technology undertakings -- often finish past their due dates, over-budget, and with a lower than predicted return on investment.Business professionals often rely on project management software to help them oversee multiple endeavors. He is a former systems engineer and has been associated with the IT industry for the past 8 years, rendering professional services related to desktop administration, networking, SEO and Blogging.
Jake uses ideas from various areas of thinking such as: Lean, professional coaching, psychology, facilitation, Agile, Scrum, Kanban, and real Agile analysis.
This is why we have compiled a list of some of the very Best Project Management Templates for Excel.Project Budget Template for ExcelOne of the most essential aspects of a project is the budget. What I know is that we do have people who are not working in the physical office, due to child related things, appointments, weather, travel, traffic, or actually not living near the office.
Are they being compared based on team estimates & velocity to see which team is working harder (Please don’t do this!!)?
I recall a very technical product owner who argued that the team did not need a physical board for months. He has unique expertise as an Organization & Relationship Systems Certified Coach (ORSCC) and as a coach for Agile adoptions beyond software development that he brings to each client engagement.
It’s crucial that the software you select makes your projects easier to manage, and doesn’t add unneeded complexity.
However, making a budget and calculating all the relevant information can be quite confusing. There are many ways to dig into this signal and find out that things are not good! However, perhaps the goal is to see how many stories each team picks up each sprint, to see which product people might need help breaking stories down into smaller chunks. He attempted to rely on an agile project management software and it was not working (too much processing and the team never settled into a groove). Jake regularly speaks at conferences including Scrum Gatherings and Agile Alliance conferences (e.g.


This free Excel template makes it possible to perform the most complex project budget tasks easy. This might not be a bad idea, although could be done without agile project management software.
Let’s examine the three major pillars of project management, and the commonly available tools on the market. The situation does exist — although any person might decide they do not want to work with an organization that has dispersed people.
This is one of the reasons why agile coaching is more than just telling people the answer, which a lot of organizations want.
Any organization that chooses to have dispersed teams will have a cost associated with that choice. Agile coaches need to explore, with the people in the organization, what is really happening — at least if you want to move beyond fogging the agile mirror.
PlanningPlanning a project first involves finding the team members with the necessary skills, and estimating how much resources a project will need. That cost will vary, depending on the people and organization, and they decide they are okay with the cost. Additionally, it’s of great benefit to both managers and their businesses if they can use historical data from past projects to forecast a completion date, estimate return on investment, and calculate the necessary resources.SchedulingScheduling completion dates for all of the moving parts in a major project helps managers construct a more accurate timeline. While there is much more to be said on dispersed teams, that is not the central topic in this article, so I’ll move on. Most of this software includes automatic alerts when due dates are approaching, or when a task is not completed on schedule. More robust interfaces include automatic reports that detail how close a project is to completion, based on the number of sub-tasks and goals that have been accomplished.Timeline visualization is becoming an increasingly popular feature in less technical industries, with the Kanban approach being a prominent example.
Kanban project tracking software is derived from a Japanese supply chain methodology called 'lean production.'  Kanban lets you visualize tasks or projects via cards on a straight line or vertical funnel, which represents the production line. This lets users see their work, and move their tasks around, as if they were on a bulletin board or whiteboard. The screenshot below is an example of a Kanban interface, from PM software LeanKit.ForecastingForecasting usually involves extrapolating based off data from previous projects, and can be essential in calculating the ROI of a project before it major resources have been invested.
Forecasting takes into account the time spent on each task as well as the resources required to complete each task relative to the organization’s budget constraints and revenue goals. These types of tools can also help you predict potential risks and limitations.Resource AllocationSimilar to forecasting, resource allocation tools help project managers visualize where their business is investing time, energy, and materials. Being able to quickly view the resources dedicated to a project and change them on the fly is an invaluable tool for both planning projects and pivoting during the lifetime of the project. Although it can be time-consuming to enter and set-up a detailed inventory of company (and human) resources, it allows for project managers to anticipate bottlenecks and proactively allocate resources.2. Tracking and ManagementEven the best laid plans will be disrupted over the lifecycle of the project.
The best project management software provides the proper amount of granularity and monitoring to keep projects efficient and on track.Time TrackingAs the name implies, time tracking software tracks the amount of time each project contributor spends on their assigned tasks. Besides simply measuring productivity, time tracking software also builds an archive of valuable data that can help businesses forecast completion dates for similar tasks or projects in the future. The image below shows the time tracking interface of Wrike.Task ManagementTask management refers to the assignment of different responsibilities to various members of the project team. Being able to quickly determine who’s contributed to what part of the project lets managers better identify bottlenecks and stay on top of the project’s progress.While the concept of task management is simple, the software can actually be fairly robust.
In the case of large, complex projects that span different departments, tasks are very often interconnected or dependent. Certain software platforms geared towards these types of undertakings will feature the ability to assign dependencies to tasks, which helps managers determine where a breakdown in productivity is occurring and assign the necessary resources to fix the problem. Task dependencies are often represented through gantt charts, such as the one below:Other common features of task management include notes and tags.
Adding notes to a task helps keep track of specific changes to the project or provide references for the strategy associated with each task.
Adding tags to tasks makes them easier to filter and find through the PM software’s native search functionality.Permission SettingsPermission settings allow a PM to decide who can view, edit, or change tasks or sections of the software.


A key part of managing a project effectively lies in vetting the access of each user on the platform. Judiciously metering out permissions also helps project managers avoid having to track down the sources of unauthorized changes to tasks or entire phases of the project.Budgeting and Expense TrackingAlthough software that budgets for projects, and businesses in general, comes in standalone versions, certain project management platforms include budgeting functions as well as expense tracking. While budgeting software is somewhat self-explanatory, expense and project tracking software can provide PMs with the added benefit of knowing how team members accrue expenses throughout the lifespan of the project. Similar to time tracking, expense tracking provides valuable data that can be used to forecast future project costs.Analysis and ReportsAnalysis and reporting functions let project managers view data in a form other than gantt charts.
A robust analysis tool can present metrics around productivity in a visual fashion that makes the information easier to digest. If a particular task needs additional resources or a specific department is moving slower than others, in-depth analysis features will help PMs rectify or leverage the situation.3.
CollaborationOnce projects are underway, keeping the moving parts connected can be the biggest challenge.
Collaboration tools help connect different departments, and make it easier to include distributed teams.
Extensive collaboration features are more common among cloud-based software than on-premise solutions.Document sharingTypically, email is the most popular way to share documents between teams. Unfortunately, this often results in redundant communication as multiple messages are sent about the same issue. The basic structure of email also makes it difficult to find documents.Software that lets team members share documents can improve productivity and increase efficiency. Many software platforms allow users to upload documents to specific projects or tasks, making it easy to locate resources.The depth of such functionality varies from the simplicity of a system such as Google Drive, to full-fledged wikis that house all of a project’s relevant materials. Audit trails let project managers view task progress and investigate challenges that team members may be experiencing.Internal MessagingNative messaging and meeting functions strengthen communications between team members.
These features come in stand-alone versions, but can also be found in comprehensive or all-in-one project management platforms.Considerations When Selecting a Product1. Desktop versus CloudBusinesses today need to choose between project management software that’s installed on a specific company computers (on premise), versus software that’s hosted online by the vendors (cloud). Desktop software generally transfers large files faster and represents a single, fixed-cost license. Cloud-based solutions allow companies to connect teams with remote workers and different schedules. Cloud products also allow mobile employees to access the project management platform regardless of their location.2. Best of Breed versus All-In-OneProject requirements often vary as a project expands and matures. Industries such as software development and architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) require highly specific functionality to fit their unique workflows. It’s always best to select software that intuitively lines up with the needs of your organization, and industry.Use free demonstrations (most PM companies offer one) for a project management software comparison, and consider how each of the product’s features will translate to your particular projects. Simply because a platform offers a suite of features doesn’t mean it’s the best project management software for your business. Usability and IntegrationWhen comparing project management software, don’t just consider the particular features of each solution.
Even products with lots of useful features can cause confusion if their interface is difficult to use, or can’t be easily understood.
You’ll be interacting with this program every day - make sure it won’t be a source of frustration.Further, it’s important to consider the integration capacity of each project management software. Your legacy systems already hold all of your most important documents, so selecting a product that integrates with your email client will avoid a complicated migration down the road.



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