How to choose the best project management tool today? The project management practices are changing and adapting thanks to complexity, need to focus on customers, the speed of a business and, of course, thanks to Agile. Preparation of detailed plans for the next year doesn’t make sense at all. The complexity of markets, products, technologies, legislation, and teams dependencies.

All of that establish fundaments to the change of project management practices. Project management tools should not add additional complexity. Agile practices are ‘new normal’ even this normal is not new for the last 10 years.

Project managers search for tools visualizing complex portfolios, teams want simple, efficient tools with a small level of bureaucracy. Microsoft Excel is maybe widely used, but not helpful. Neither big project management solutions.

Agile changes the way we collaborate. Not just team members, but project managers as well. The project is not managed by the project management in Agile. The whole Scrum team manages its project on daily basis. They plan, track, evaluate, measure, change it. The Agile project is an artifact of everybody, not just managers.

Agile teams needs collaboration, not just an evidence or tracking.

With the introduction of The Agile Manifesto in 2001, new types of project management tools emerged. I remember when I found Scrum highly valuable to our team and thanks to that, we build the ScrumDesk tool. At that time it was the fifth tool on the market.

Agile project management tools that already existed were, unfortunately, build on the same premises as project management tools following waterfall. Bring all data, all the evidence. Dependencies, multi-assignments, and gannt charts with huge reports. 

Agile project management tool

If you search for the project management tool, these days Agile project tools are what you are looking for. Either you work in an agile way or not. Agile project management tools are based on empirical approaches. They imitate physical boards. They are easy to learn and use. Even waterfall practices can be evidenced in such tools without huge effort. They are as such versatile.

Features needed

  1. Team view on features and tasks, activities, placed on Kanban board. Easy to access, visualizing priorities, status, impediments, or assignments.
  2. Fast to understand the status of work and project activities with help of interactive reports and dashboards.
  3. The possibility to collaborate with help of comments and mentions, Be notified when needed not with any small change. Supporting asynchronous communication and collaboration.
  4. Track changes. You will not remember details. Changes should be understandable when needed,
  5. Supporting fundamental agile practices, i.e. prioritization, iterations, planning poker, story points, sprint reports.
  6. It is great if such a tool can unite the business with research & development teams. Objectives and key results might be such tool.
  7. Retrospectives with the combination of tasks directly planned to sprints.
  8. Assets that are easy to understand by stakeholders. Once the information is current, as the team updates them continuously, why have so many meetings if the project management tool can easily access important information?
  9. Tracking of impediments, blockers. Visually distinguish which task is blocked or risky thanks to the blocker.
  10. Complex environment, technologies, dependencies. A lot of reasons for blockers. But only a few root causes block the system. Root cause analysis integrated into the project management tool puts an important puzzle piece in the whole picture.
  11. Even you work in Scrum, you still need a roadmap. It gives the scrum team in an agile organization a mid-term outlook of where to aim.
  12. Have you heard of user stories and epics? While they are fundamental for products delivered in an agile way, they are not enough. The complexity of requirements, the pressure to deliver minimum viable/marketable products as fast as possible require the possibility to manage a hierarchy of requirements.
  13. It is always great if the tool help write proper user stories and acceptance criteria. If it is already preconfigured for Agile development without any other configuration. Why spend resources for that?
  14. Integration with other tools is welcome. Especially to DevOps tools.

Discussion on Project Management Tools

In collaboration with Nexteria, we prepared the discussion on the Project management tools and needs of Agile and non-Agile teams.







The discussion was moderated Dusan Kocurek, co-founder of ScrumDesk and the product manager of the ScrumDesk project management tool for agile teams.


Discussed topics

  • Why is project management still needed today?
  • Which project management methods are applied today. Which of them are practical in a real-life?
  • Why do we need tools for project management?
  • What should great project management tools offer to their users?
  • Management needs metrics and reporting. How can project management tools help management, clients, or even teams with metrics?
  • Is there something revolutionary we should expect from project management tools in a near future?
  • How to choose the project management tool? What should we consider?

Learning points

Great project management tools offer full transparency from objectives to activities supported by the fast updates of data and a low level of bureaucracy.

Tools improve communication within the team. Also towards stakeholders, customers, users of products whose development is managed in project management tools.

Data must be actually in real-life, not just in selected time periods, i.e. once per day. The project management tool should keep people informed on project changes and the status of the project.

The best communication is in a form of asynchronous communication is so much needed for focus in the pandemic world full of interruptions. Requirements are needed to be tracked in the hierarchy.

A great agile project management tool should support epics, features, user stories, and subtasks as well.

The tool should support data categorization with help of colors, labels, tags, or custom fields. The complexity of today’s business requires project management tools to provide predictions, forecasts, help with budget tracking and budget consumption. Either in terms of money or story points.

Our thanks

On behalf of ScrumDesk, I want to thank Nexteria community for organizing this discussion. Of course, we want to thank our speakers for their insight into the topic of the project management tools and their way of using them or even building them.

A great project management tool doesn’t have many features or a huge possibility of customization. It is even the opposite. Simple, easy to learn, and use tool integrated to the whole value stream. With correct and continuously updated data helping manage complex projects.