Team Collaboration ToolsMuhammad Zeeshan Ali, PMP, PMI-ACP
Agile methodologies focus on team empowerment through collaboration and for that meetings and teams being co-located are the elements which are more stressed upon. With teams now mostly working in distributed model, with resources scarred at different locations and time-zones, it is somewhat contradicting with the values of Agile Manifesto.
Fortunately, multiple collaboration as well as Project Management tools have made it much more feasible and practical for the distributed teams to work effectively while practicing Agile Methodologies. The technology has provided us with the much needed flexibility to collaborate the planning, execution as well as control of any project.
The software solutions provider companies are coming up with many new ideas and useful tools to provide users with a wide range of products and functionalities to enhance the professional collaboration. The tools exist as stand-alone tool for a specific activity as well as a suite with all-in-one features to plan, manage, collaborate and integrate during the whole project life-cycle.
The concept of Information Radiators and team Co-location has totally changed to a single visual world. Teams are now actively using these tools to write User Stories and form Product Backlogs. Then the same tool is helping the teams in Sprint Planning and form Sprint Backlogs. The estimation process is facilitated by useful online tools especially the ones based on the concept of “Planning Poker”.
Alternatively, the Project Managers also have the option to use the tools based on the traditional project management methodologies not only to plan but also for the other project management activities.
One of the most famous such tools is the “Kanban Board” based on the Kanban methodology. It allows the teams and all other stakeholders to keep an eye on the progress and also set expectations accordingly. Teams also actively use these tools to log their efforts and also to report the completed work. Such information is very useful in multiple reports.
The repository for checking in the code, different types of documentation and use cases/test cases etc. are also very commonly and effectively used. The new trend is now all about sharing the documents online, from shared locations, rather than sending large documents through email to multiple recipients. These tools have also effectively enhanced the communication flow and now all relevant artifacts can be organized and linked together through a single tool. The discussion boards and blogs have also provided a change for people to interact and share knowledge and discuss different concepts.
Conducting online meetings and use of managing tools, is the new norm for the teams now. The introduction of mobile versions of applications and tools provisioning further flexibility and resources can now virtually work from anywhere and on the go.