Scrum Tools

As a lightweight process, Scrum can in theory be implemented using nothing more than a spreadsheet application like Excel or OpenOffice. However, in practice it gets tiresome and ineffective after a while, and one prefers to use a centralized, custom application for implementing the process.

A good tool I have come across so far is Scrumworks from Danube Technologies. They have a Pro and a Free edition, and I have found that while the Pro edition is very much on the expensive side (249 USD per user per year), the free edition is good enough for most small companies. It has one of the best user interfaces and reporting I have seen till date.

However I do not use it mainly because it does not integrate well into other tools:
  • It doesn't have an integrated bug-tracking/ticketing system, or the means to integrate into one. This is a showstopper because, while one can track internal bugs as subtasks of high-level features, there is no way to track bug reports from the field.
  • Another similar reason is the lack of an integrated document management system, again a showstopper.
  • The inability to comment on tasks. I believe it is very important to keep track of the historical discussions that took place around tasks; questions that were asked, and their answers, reasons for decisions, etc, and to keep it in a central location that can be accessed at any time (as against email).

The next best tool I have used is Atlassian's JIRA+Confluence. This addresses almost all of the shortfalls of ScrumWorks, but being primarily a ticket tracking system, lacks built-in Scrum tracking abilities. However, JIRA is quite extensible and this lack can be overcome by using a third-party plugin, or developing a plugin in-house.

The third option, which I have only cursorily evaluated but never used in a production environment, is TRAC. This is an open-source application, and is, again, an extensible ticket tracking system which has plugins for Scrum. Prima facie, this seems to have advantages all around. It is a freely available open-source application, hence can be customized as much as required, and at the same time, has an integrated documentation tracking system and comment tracking mechanism. Do have a look at Buildix, a complete system based on Linux, having TRAC, Cruisecontrol and SVN pre-configured to work with each other.

I'll be sure to post an update as soon as I have explored it in greater detail.