The Dashboard screen shows a change history of your project and some other personal information and it’s the entry point to start using the tool. Clicking in the backlog tab you are presented with your backlog with many different views. You can see all stories, just assigned ones, the most important and so on. This is possible using a simple tag mechanism. Creating new user stories a easy task, not much required information, but if you need a more complete story, you have a way to do it. It’s possible to define the story card color to appear in the taskboard, it’s possible to write a small text about the story, and define tags to use as filters in the backlog feature. A very interesting feature is the possibility to easily split stories, this is something that should happen quite often in a project but few tools resolve this in a good way as tinyPM does.
The two most important information about a Story, besides it’s content of course, are resolved in different ways by tinyPM, Estimation and Prioritization. The estimate a story tinyPM offers to you the fibonacci-based scale, that normally appears in planning poker decks, and to be even better they use the word “Effort” to this values, putting away completely, the idea of time estimates, very good. If the estimation is solved in very good way, the same can not be said about prioritization. tinyPM uses the MoSCoW Method (Must, Should, Could and Won’t have), this can give a good idea about the importance of a feature, but will create a lot of stories with the same priority, a simple ordination, with drag-and-drop will do it better.
Iterations and Taskboard
It’s possible to create as many iterations as you like upfront, doing this is the closer of a release plan that you can get. To name your iterations you’re only allowed to use number, so you will have iteration 1, iteration 2, iteration 3 and so on. You just have to define a start date and the duration in days, and you are ready to go. To assign stories to any iteration, just drag the story from the backlog and drop in the iteration box, very easy and fast, wish the prioritization was solved the same way. Now it’s a good time to create your tasks, but you can create them any time you like, another interesting thins is that you don’t have task estimates, this is really rare on project management tools, and shows how tinyPM discourages time estimates. If you have to create a great amount of tasks it can be a little painful, you can only create one task at a time.
The taksboard is very well done, drag and drop the tasks to update the status, very close to a live taskboard on the wall, maybe a little bit confusing if you have too many stories and tasks, because of the many icons in the screen. The good point is that you can accesse a lot o features from the taskboard directily, like split stories, create new tasks, etc. speeding up this operations. Unfortunately tinyPM doesn’t come with burndown charts for task or stories points. A progress bar tries to show some similar information, but not with the same richness.
Although tinyPM was made with only Scrum in mind it’s more compliant to scrum ideas than many tools in the market. The lack of Release Plan and burndown features and the prioritization mechanism are the biggest problems of tinyPM, but the good points compensates the bad ones. If looking for a simple tool that covers the basic, tinyPM is a good candidate.
You can find some tips to make tinyPM run on a Tomcat 6.X server here.
More Scrum Tool reviews