Acunote is an Agile project management tool. Created by Pluron Inc., a startup company from Sillicon Valley, Acunote is a web application based on Scrum process and works as a service, you don’t have to install nothing, just sign up for a account and start using it. Acunote have a clean interface and all features are organized into tabs.
Creating your backlog is very easy, few information are needed, and prioritizing it is really simple, just drag the item to the desired position in the list, it can take a little to time refresh the items list, but it works fine. The prioritization is well resolved but there’s something that bothers me a lot on the backlog feature. There is not a real difference between a backlog item and a task, everything is called task, the only way to create a master-detail (item-task) relationship is using indentation, but this not solve the problem. The real issue resides on the estimation. You are obligated to use hour estimations for everything on the backlog and if you create task for an item, the item hour estimate must be the sum of tasks hour estimates. This makes this feature almost impossible to use properly if you work with story points and if you ignore the estimations completely you will not see the burndown charts working. When creating the backlog you don’t have to worry about that, but once you are creating the spring backlog, this problems will make your life harder.
To create a sprint just define a name, start date and end date and copy the desired items (tasks) from the backlog to the sprint. Prefer the copy button, if you use the move button too much, you have the risk to spread the items over the sprints and loose a unified vision of your backlog. But using the copy function doesn’t create a full syncronization between the item in the backlog and the item in the sprint, beware with that.
With your selected product backlog in place you can start creating the tasks, remember, Acunote calls everything task, backlog items and tasks, so pay attention to indentation to create your sprint backlog properly. Now you can estimate your tasks and finally have estimations for the items. This time nor even the one-hour-for-everything trick can help us.
Charts and More
Acunote comes with many burndown charts, but they are all the same, just diferent views of the same relation between work-hours remaining and days of the sprint. You can see the classic burndown, a burndown just of your tasks, and another one with a line to each member of the team. This 3 burndonws comes also in 3 diferent kinds of presentations. This could be good, but we miss other kinds of charts like, Story Points X Sprint Days, or a Velocity chart, etc. Acunote also comes with other kinds of support features like Import/Export tasks with csv files and a Timeline tab where you can see every change made in the project.
Acunote is a simple, easy-to-learn, easy-to-use tool, but the lack of features like release planning and a taskboard and some choices they made on the backlog and estimates can keep a lot of teams away from it. My major concern is that the thining behind Acunate is definitely wrong. Acunote sticks still to the idea that someone might be interested in tracking tasks. That is unfortunately still part of the business world, but Scrum-Teams who were able to work with StoryPoint burn-downs show progress based on Stories complete. They do not fall back into an old way of thinking behind project management. Besides Acunote have been based on Scrum process, some of the most common things a scrum team does is not there, like Story Points estimations and a real separation between backlog items and tasks. If they correct this problems on new versions Acunote can become a strong tool, but for now you have to look somewhere else. As long as they do not have solved this issues. We can not recommend this tool for the usage in a Scrum environment.