Step up your agile transformation – How the right tools can help you to reach the next level in your agile environment!

The tools are only as good as the people that use them. This is an important message to keep in mind when discussing any sort of tool and methodology assessment.

In searching for the right methodology or tool for your team, it’s vital that you understand the characteristics of the team and how they like to work before choosing a tool or methodology.

We wanted to get all of this out of the way first, before we begin any discussion of tools vs methodology, because at the end of the day, your tools and methodology may fail, but your people will always be there.

Methodology

Is agile better than waterfall? Or is waterfall better than agile? We’re not here to answer that question for you today; it really depends on demand from your customers, the characteristics of your team, and the direction your organization is headed in.

What we can say is that over the last twenty years, agile has gained more and more traction in not only the technology world, but across all business sectors. Now, it is almost a no-brainer for startups and enterprise organizations alike. While startups seem to thrive with agile, larger organizations tend to struggle when attempting to scale the methodology. This is why frameworks such as SAFe® and Spotify have started to gain traction at the enterprise level.

This isn’t to say that agile and waterfall are the only two choices, they’re not. You could choose a combination of the two or you could create your own methodology entirely. Agile and waterfall just happen to be the most popular methodologies used today.

No matter the methodology, generally speaking, there should be a tool to go with it. It is crucial that methodology and tools complement each other, especially when scaling agility comes in place.

Tools

Tools vary a lot these days. They can range anywhere from post-its on a white board to Atlassian tools (Jira, Confluence, Jira Service Management, Bitbucket, etc) with some complexity to set up and manage.

Going back to our opening statement in this blog, the tools are only as good as the team that uses them. You could configure a tool to help your team do agile, but if nobody has trained the team on the specific agile methodology you would like to use the tool for, you won’t get anything out of the tool, and the investment will fail. On the other hand, you could train a team completely in scrum, get them ready to hit all the ceremonies, set them off on their first sprint, but when they access the tool, they find out they only have kanban boards.

The above two examples seem extreme, but they are issues we’ve come across in our consulting experiences. These are examples of how the tools don’t match the team’s characteristics or mindset.

A good tool will allow you to customize it such that it fits the team’s mindset. Let’s cover a few examples from our favorite tools below, the Atlassian Suite.

Jira

Jira is an amazing issue tracker for teams of all methodologies. If you are practicing waterfall, Jira works well for passing work items from ideation to development, to quality assurance, and finally into production.

If agile is more of your jam, Jira comes with out-of-the-box workflows and configurations which suit both scrum and kanban. With open and flexible workflows matched with boards to allow you to visualize your work better, Jira helps agile teams get up and running very quickly.

The integration between Jira and Atlassian’s service management tool, Jira Service Management, allows teams to keep customer requests and development work in line. The integration further with Confluence allows teams to tie their development work in Jira closely together with the requirements which live in Confluence. Jira Service Management completes the Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC), allowing teams to stay in one suite of tools to accomplish all of their day’s work.

Confluence

Confluence is your all-encompassing documentation tool. You can use it for an internal wiki or for externally facing documentation. It links directly to Jira to allow complete transparency between development and documentation.

You can use Confluence to write all your product requirements, then continue your development in Jira. This allows for product requirements to continue to evolve, while keeping the development team informed with those changes. One of the principles of agile is adapting to changing requirements and even welcoming them. Confluence allows teams to thrive on this principle.

The future of tools

Fast forward a few years into the future, and teams will be looking to scale agility even more. How this surfaces on the tool front is yet to be determined. At Seibert Media, we are tackling the challenge of agile at scale with one of our products, Agile Hive. With Agile Hive, an app that integrates perfectly with Jira, teams can begin to scale agile practices with SAFe® nearly instantly.

When you enter the administrator section, you can easily organize your projects into a SAFe® hierarchy and begin linking issues together. On top of this, the best thing is - SAFe® is supported by Agile Hive out-of-the-box.

Agile Hive makes it possible to create team reports, use the SAFe® terminology throughout your Jira, identify value and track the team’s progress, and visualize dependencies between team issues. All of these factors contribute to enabling a simpler PI Planning.

Moving Forward

The landscape for methodologies and tools can look extremely overwhelming. There are many methodologies and tools for you to choose from. All in all, the most important takeaway from this article is that you should ensure that your methodologies, tools, and people align to achieve the greater goal. Keep your methodologies and tools in sync while also keeping in mind the best way the team works and you will realize the greatest benefits.

Of course, it can be challenging to reach those goals - but we are here to help! We unite experts in methodology and tooling and can help you to reach the next level in your agile environment - schedule your free meeting with us here:

https://calendly.com/scaling-as

The best journeys are taken together. Let us accompany you on your SAFe journey, every step of the way.

We know that a SAFe® implementation can seem daunting, but with the right tools and the right partner it doesn't have to be. Whether you're about to take your first steps or you're ready to scale up, we will be there to help you evaluate and guide you through the process. With KEGON - Germany's leading SAFe partner & SAFe first mover in Europe - we will use our expertise in Agile Hive, Jira, and Jira Align to help you find the right methods and tools to fit your needs wherever you are on your SAFe journey.

Get in touch with us today so we can help get you started the best way possible for your organization.


Further Reading