VersionOne is one of most well-known tools to manage agile projects on the market. With a great amount of functionalities VersionOne can be used with many agile flavors, Scrum included. With some many features, as you can imagine, VersionOne will require a significant financial investment to use it, so is recommended that you try the 30-day evaluation available on their website until you decide to purchase it. At first we may be overwhelmed by the amount of features and configuration possibilities, so it’s a good idea to watch some video training also available on VersionOne website. For the propose of this review we will be using the Enterprise edition.
A good way to start using VersionOne is on the Admin section. Here you can create projects, members, sprint schedules and a long list of possible configurations. You can define custom fields for your objects, define the possible values for backlog item status, type, etc. After being comfortable with your customizations and created your project, it’s time do build your backlog. On the Product Planning tab you may notice some different information in addition to the normal backlog feature. On VersionOne you can register things like Customer Requests, Strategic Goal, Epics, Themes,Issues, etc. So you can do a lot of work on it even before you start building your real backlog. Luckily all things thing isn’t mandatory, so use them as your needs require.
There are different levels of planning on VersionOne, Product, Release and Sprint. As we said earlier, the product planning is where we can maintain our backlog. There’s a lot a information that you can define to a backlog item, like Complexity, Requested by, the Theme that the item is related to, etc. but you don’t have to worry about all that, there’s a in-line add feature where you can provide only basic information like priority and estimate and quickly create a lot of items.
Let’s talk more about priority and estimate as usual. You are very free to estimate your items on VersionOne, that’s not a defined unit of measure and no defined scale. So if you work with Planning Poker or a different technique, you need to enforce a scale outside the tool. On the priority feature there’s a interesting thing, you can define a value to the priority property (High, Medium and Low) but you also can drag and drop to do a finer prioritization, the problem is that you can put a Low priority item on top of a High priority item, which can be a little confusing. To me the drag-and -drop makes the priority field a bit obsolete and should be the primary mechanism to prioritize. On the Release Planning, you can create you releases as child projects form your main project, define a date range and drag the item you choose to be part of it. The Sprint planning is similar to Release planning, create a sprint and drag the chosen items to it, and now you can create tasks to our items at this moment, you could have created them before, but we assume that the sprint planning should the appropriate moment to do that, and again VersionOne has the common bad habit to enforces task estimates in order to have a working burndown chart. To track the work during the sprint, there’s a nicely done taskboard feature. You can also create special tasks to test, where you can define tests details.
Tracking and Reports
On the reports tab you can see a big list of reports where you can track more statistics about your team than a baseball scout. There’s burndown charts to sprints, releases, project, parking lot charts, velocity charts, retrospective reports and a lot more. It’s a very rich set of reports, so rich that I seriously doubt that a team can use it all for real, but of course even if not use it all, you can find some good things in there.
There’s many more good things and bad things about VersionOne to fit in this review, but there’s no doubt that VersionOne is one of the most complete tools on the market, but even with all the additional features it brings, there’s not a breakthrough feature, something that really sets the tool apart from the various competitors and you always expects something more from the big players. Although VersionOne has a great number of features it’s not the most expensive tool on the market, so if your company are willing to invest on a tool that brings many features, integrates with other tools, and a good support structure, VersionOne could be a choice.