In this recent survey results it’s very interesting to see that “tangible tools” i.e. physical wall and paper are used by agile teams very often (25% of respondents).
At Agile Partner we use various tools depending on the project constraints.
Our online Agile Project Management tool of choice is ScrumWorks because of its simplicity (in particular the Basic version, which is perfect for Scrum beginners). Its recent acquisition by CollabNet confirms that this is a viable solution in the long term, with growing integration capabilities.
Although a lot of our projects use physical wall and paper. I believe the main reason is that it allows much higher visibility for the team itself. Indeed visibility is a good thing for the customer and the rest of the world, those chickens who are interested in the project. But visibility is even more important for the team itself: visibility on the backlog and the work in progress.
For a specific project we even use a combination of both physical and electronic tool:
- The complete backlog and all tasks are managed in the electronic tool, which builds the reports automatically and allows global overview of the project progress and visibility for remote stakeholders. It also facilitates team collaboration at the task level.
- The user stories of the current sprint are posted on the wall and moved through a kanban-style board. Selected indicators are also posted visibly on the wall. This creates a highly visible sprint dashboard for the team itself.
I have seen teams for which the scarce wall space is the main barrier to using tangible tools. But maybe some managers don’t realize the power of visual management and believe that they have better control of the project when all data are in a PM tool…