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11 Dec

Software Development Tool "Must Haves"

When looking for a tool platform to increase the velocity of your Agile software development team, you''ll want to choose a solution that offers a suite of tools that integrate seamlessly and provide the most benefit to your developers. Many of the top software development tools on the market today are industry leading examples of Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) products. Names like Atlassian, Rally, and Rational Team Concert are at the top of the list. For all of these and for any others worth considering, there are several high-level features the tools must have: project management, code development, and team collaboration.

Project Management
Managing Agile products requires a tool that provides the ability to create and manage projects, epics, stories, and tasks. The user interface should allow the representative objects (usually represented as virtual cards) to be created and moved around. Different stakeholders (be they Product Owners, Architects, Coders, or Testers) should be able to add notes as well as estimates in whatever form of resource currency the team uses, for example in Story Points or "Ideal Engineering Days". Having different ways to view the project details like Scrum boards, Kanban boards, and Gantt Charts will increase the usability of the tool. Being able to visualize hierarchical dependencies and create projected schedules will definitively facilitate the team making the wisest decisions about how they will tackle the work.

Code Development
The most important aspect of a tool that supports writing code is tracking items through a customizable work-flow. Once a task is assigned for work, the team members must be able to change its status, modify its priority, and add additional notes & details.  Another key facet is a pluggable integration framework so the team can leverage existing bug trackers, source control repositories, and reporting frameworks. If the suite has a plug-in available for the team''s favorite Integrated Development Environment (IDE), all the better. Having seamless integration to all of these external functions will enhance the development iterations and subsequently improve the overall lifecycle.

Team Collaboration
Last, but certainly not least, the tool must support team collaboration.  Especially in the Agile methodology, the need to have quick, accurate, and thorough team communication can not be underestimated. Geographically dispersed teams must have this to succeed and all teams can work much better this way. Email and even to some degree instant messaging no longer serve this purpose well. A medium more along the lines of a social networking site like Facebook is necessary. Sharing photos & files, real-time group chats, and elements like surveys & polls all help to make the work environment fun and advance the project. The tool must provide an effortless interface to promote this kind of collaboration.

Every team wants a tool that will enable them to work smarter, not just harder. By finding an ALM product that encompasses all of these key features, you will be well on the way to providing a path for success. For more information on choosing the right tool, please contact us.

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