Friday, April 25, 2014

Timetracking and Cool Tool Alert: SonicAgile Project Management

Sometimes a blog post talks about a tool and it sounds like an ad. Othertimes, it provides good information and then it mentions a tool. Such was the case when I read this post from Stephen Walther.

The explanation of time-tracking (second paragraph) really hits home when trying to promote why it should be used. I've been working with Microsoft's TFS for the past few years and one of the challenges has always been getting people to track time. If they don't see a real benefit to it, it's often perceived as a negative performance measurement tool. They have to get over that mindset.

As the post says "the Product Owner needs to know when the work on a story has gone over the original time estimated for the story. The Product Owner is concerned with Return On Investment... a legitimate reason to halt work on the story and reconsider the story’s business value."
"if your team is spending 75% of their time doing testing then you might need to bring in more testers. Or, if 10% of your team’s time is expended performing a software build at the end of each iteration then it is time to consider better ways of automating the build process."
The post then mentions SonicAgile, which I had never heard of. SonicAgile is a new online Agile Project Management and it is really really great. I've run through the gamut of online project management tools- from Basecamp, Kanban Kit, Trello, TFS, among others. All of them are great tools and depending on the client, I still use them.  KanBan and Trello use the card-style interface and it's such a great way of forcing users to stay focused, even Microsoft turned to using a similar approach in TFS 2013.

SonicAgile uses a similar interface - but focuses on making project management super easy. After going through challenges with introducing agile processes, the fact that you can turn concepts (like iterations or epics) on or off can make this very useful for experienced or new teams!
 If you're tracking multiple projects and/or different teams, you can turn on features just for specific projects.

Just getting started? Keep only the basic idea of using Cards to track features, change requests and bugs from To Do, In Progress and Done, just like Trello.

Need Iterations? Turn on the feature and now you can group your cards into time-sensitive Iterations.

Need Epics? Just turn them on.

Another cool feature - Roadmaps. You can create a public roadmap (much like Lianja did during its beta cycles) and use it for planning your iterations.

 Oh yeah, on the road but without browser access? Just email your user stories to a special email address and it will create the cards for you.

 It's a new tool - so I'm excited to see where it goes (it needs a mobile client) - but right out of the gate, SonicAgile got a number of features (including scheduled reporting) that are right there when you need them.