“Simplifying the Agile project management”. That’s the Agile Buddy catch phrase. As you can see Agile Buddy is a tool to manage agile project. It runs on the web and was developed by Brightspark. It has a good look and feeling, with the main features organized in tabs. There is a free trial available if you want to take a look at it before you buy it.
To start using Agile Buddy we need to create a Product register, then you can start creating your backlog. There is no need to create releases or iterations upfront. You are free to create as many stories as you like with minimum data and fill that when it is more appropriate. It´s possible to define a great amount of information like source, business value or risk. These properties do not have much impact on the story progression into the project being just informative properties, but when it comes to the real deal (size, priority) Agile Buddy does have some little problems that are so common in most of the tools. Speaking first about the prioritization process, Agile Buddy brings us a range of 5 possible values to define a story priority, from blocker to minor. This will lead us to the well known problem of having different stories with the same priority, which can be OK if we talk about the bottom of a big backlog, but it’s definitively a problem to the stories on the top of the backlog, as I said in previous reviews a simple ordination will prevent this kind of problems. On the estimation feature, I enjoy the fact that the use of the word size defines the story estimate. Agile Buddy comes with an estimation screen that is useful on estimation meetings providing a quick way to estimate a great amount of stories. Another good point is the use of the Fibonacci-like scale, the most popular scale on agile projects, but unfortunately this feature isn’t problem free. The major problem is that you can only work on unestimated stories, so you can not alter the size of a story through this screen. If you need to do that you have to edit a story and then set a new size. The funny thing is on the story edit screen you can set nay value to the size, not limited by the Fibonacci scale, this is a bit confusing and should be fixed on future releases of the product.
On the planning part, Agile Buddy gives us two features, Release Planning and Iteration Planning. To be able to do your iteration planning you are obligated to do your release planning first. The release iteration is basically an assignment screen, where you can say which stories will be on the next release. There’s no much more of it, maybe the feature would get a real boost if you could access some information about the development teams capacity or the application could provide some sort of projections about how many iterations it’s going to take until the release is ready and how the decisions of putting in a story or not will affect the schedule. The iteration planning works the same way,you just need to choose which stories will be part of your iteration. The difference is that only stories that were previously assigned to be part of the release will be available this time. After assigning the stories it’s a good moment to create your tasks for each one of them. Unfortunately you have the leave the planning screen to do that and access the Task option on the Create menu and again you see another common problem. You have to estimate your task in hours. So if you don’t want to do that, you can use the idea of one-hour-to-everything, so you can have a burndown chart to show. At least you can create several tasks without having to access the Create menu again, this speeds up things a little, but it would be even better if you could do this in the story context.
Running a Sprint
There is no specific feature to use to update the tasks and stories status on a daily basis like a task board. The Track screen is the most close to this. There’s a track screen for the whole project, for the release and the iteration. On the release track, you can see release backlog with the status of the stories and a Story burnup chart, where you can see how many story points are completed during the release. On the iteration track you can see the selected product backlog (stories) with the sprint backlog (tasks) and a burndown chart to the task hours. You can also update the status of the end and the stories as well.
Although Agile Buddy is an easy to use and learning tool, it suffers from the same problems many tools do. Agile Buddy covers only basic features and doesn’t bring any innovation and maybe these features are not enough to justify their price, maybe on the next version.