Essential software for your agile delivery

06.01.20 05:59 PM By Matt Koopmans

All you need to deliver an Agile project is sticky notes, and a place to stick them... So far, this has been true - sort of. The daily stand-up is a great way to provide updates and ask for help - but agile has morphed beyond the small team that is co-located. Products are divided into multiple smaller products, a sprint can focus on multiple streams (or "epics") - and even multiple sprints can be run at the same time. Add to this the complexity of distributed teams, where members are in different offices, cities, or even continents. A board with sticky notes will not suffice, and a daily stand-up simply does not work as an effective communication tool.

Zoho Sprints - the practical way to manage your Agile delivery

Sprints by Zoho is a fully functional Agile delivery application - for small teams, to distributed larger programs of work with multiple sprints. There are other agile delivery systems available, and usually the choice is a trade-off between usability and robust features. Zoho Sprints combines these two elements - the main planning board is analogous to the traditional sticky notes - but the features in Zoho Sprints allow it to be scaled from the very small to the very complex Agile delivery works. Central to each sprint is the board - the digital equivalent of the board with the sticky notes - except, these notes don't fall off, and the board is available to everyone, regardless of location.

Comprehensive user story and feature management

User stories are the back-bone of Agile delivery - a Triple A user story (Actor, Action, Achievement) is entered into the backlog, and where appropriate, associated with an "epic". The user story can be dissected into various tasks, the actual delivery work required to deliver the story. The team estimates via the Fibonacci sequence, or via another points estimation. It is also possible to estimate the duration for well known repeatable tasks. 

As the tasks roll up to the story - the estimation points can roll up too. The sprint loading is simplified, even if the story (a feature) consists of multiple tasks that need to be executed. You can even create dependencies between tasks, so you do not have to estimate things twice, and you can bring sequence to the plan.

Communicate, communicate, communicate!

Communication is key to a successful delivery team. Daily stand-ups may not be as useful - especially with distributed teams, or multi-sprint deliveries. Zoho Sprints adds two key features to encourage and facilitate team communication. First, there is the "feed"; it is like a feed on a social media platform, providing status updates, and people can have conversations that are accessible on the feed. No discussion or decision is lost to the team. 

Second, you can schedule meetings directly from Sprints - these can be rhythm meetings (i.e. stand-up, planning, review, refinement) or they can be specific (task or story based meetings) - at location, or via online conference.

Dashboards and reports

Without measuring, you'll never master it. Zoho Sprints offers dashboards and reports to manage the sprints and the overall progress. Burn down/up, flow, latency reports, as well as budget versus actual - all designed to manage the active sprint and take the learning to improve future sprints. 

Dashboards provide quick insights into sprint velocity, user task loading, and bottlenecks or obstacles that need be addressed.

Finally, a time sheet is available to provide input to what time actually was spent on a task (feeding the budget versus actual report). This is essential for the learning organisation, improving the accuracy of the estimation. Agile is a fail fast, adjust often method - only when you measure do you know what to adjust.

Zoho Sprints is part of Zoho One

Zoho One is the "all-you-can-eat-buffet" of business applications. For $50 (Australian) per employee per month, you get access to a full suite of applications to operate your business. Zoho Sprints is part of the Zoho One suite - and as such a great tool to use Agile to implement the vast feature set delivered by Zoho One through the organisation. Try Zoho One for free for 30 days - link below. 

Matt Koopmans