Scrum methods can help your project run more smoothly and enable you to get things done quickly and effectively. Project management software often includes features that can help you implement them, so we’re looking at Scrum and project management tools. We’ll try to figure out which platforms are best for agile teams to use.
We’ll start by taking a look at what Scrum is and how it works, then look at the features found in project management tools and how you can use them with it. Some, such as Jira, have dedicated Scrum views, some have Scrum templates and many can be useful despite not being explicitly designed for the methodology.
What Is Scrum?
The term “scrum” comes from rugby, but was first applied to development by Hirokata Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka. Many others contributed ideas, and in 2009, The Scrum Guide was published, providing the methodology with an official set of guidelines.
Scrum methodology is typically associated with software development, but it doesn’t have to be. It involves dividing work into sprints, which last from two weeks to a month. Sprints have a goal, which might be to get certain features ready in a software product.
There are regular meetings, called daily scrums, that are limited to 15 minutes and require developers answer three questions: what did they finish yesterday, what will they do today and is there anything preventing them or their team reaching the sprint goal.
There’s also a review and retrospective at the end of each sprint. They allow the team to see what was done and what wasn’t, decide what to do next and figure out process improvements.
Roles in Scrum
Scrum is designed for small teams. There are three roles in Scrum, one of which is the team. The team organizes itself and figures out how it can meet sprint goals.
The product owner is the one who sets the vision. Often a boss or client, they’re the one who decides what the team should create and what the priorities are. They’re on hand to answer questions from the team, but they don’t get involved with the details.
The scrum master is there to remove obstacles getting in the way of the team’s goals. They can work closely with the product owner to help figure out what to prioritize and what suitable goals would be.
You may think the product owner and scrum master sound like your CEO and manager, and you’d kind of be right. In Scrum, though, the roles are formalized and their involvement is limited. The product owner lets people know what they want, the scrum master solves problems for the team and the team gets things done.
That can be key to allowing the development team to do their jobs without being pushed in the wrong direction by people who, despite having good intentions, don’t know much about development.
Scrum is great for developers, who tend to be independent and work best when left to their own devices. It gives just the right amount of guidance, so they know what to do, but leaves them to do what they think is needed to achieve goals.
What Can Scrum Do for You?
Scrum allows for tasks to be set and guidance to be provided to developers, while giving developers the space to solve problems independently. Developers tend to be better at doing those things than their clients and often their managers too, so doing it that way results in a better product that’s delivered faster.
Though Scrum is widely associated with development, it’s becoming more popular elsewhere and can be used in all sorts of industries.
Examples of Scrum Tools
Best Scrum Software
Some of the best project management software has features pitched at developers, and some is designed for use with Scrum.
Full-on Scrum: Jira
Jira is one of the best platforms for developers and has many features designed for them. It’s based around issues rather than tasks.
It has dedicated Scrum boards and kanban boards because it supports both methodologies. It also has “epics” and “stories,” which are its way of categorizing tasks. It describes them as “agile artefacts.”
Jira integrates with HipChat, a popular communication tool for developers, so you can use it for Scrum meetings, too.
We were impressed by its feature set. It’s also good value, especially for large teams or those looking to self-host. Read about it in our Jira review.
We know kanban boards and Scrum boards aren’t the same, but a kanban tool can be a great way to arrange projects internally for your team. It can also be kept private to the team itself.
Trello lets you create as many boards as you like, so you can have one for every sprint. Read more about it in our Trello review and take a look at our Trello beginner’s guide after that.
That said, you can set Trello to work with Scrum, as shown on this page. Trello is a versatile tool that has many “power-ups” to help you get more out of it.
Trello cards can represent tasks, issues or bugs. You can add information and attachments to them. Attachment size is limited, though. If you need more space, checking out cloud storage best suited to your needs is a good starting point.
You’ll find a few more kanban tools in our how to use a kanban board guide.
Role Definition: ProWorkflow
Roles are crucial in Scrum, so it’s important to be able to define them in project management software. In addition to being able to name roles, it’s useful to control what the different types of users can and can’t do.
ProWorkflow is good at role assignment, letting you name roles and control what they can and can’t do. That means, for example, you can prevent the scrum master and product owner from assigning tasks to help prevent micromanagement.
In addition to letting you assign roles, ProWorkflow features a return on investment calculator that shows how the time it saves you translates into cash. It also has time tracking features, so it’s a useful tool if you want to keep an eye on costs.
ProWorkflow also includes an agile board on its app store, which you can use for free. Read our ProWorkflow review to learn more about the platform.
If you love meetings as much as we do, you’ll love Basecamp, which lets you keep all your communications in one place. That allows you to post as needed, without everyone having to present at the same time, which most project management tools offer.
In Scrum, though, regular meetings are needed. Basecamp’s “campfires” allow the team to chat in real time, making them perfect for that. Read more about it in our Basecamp review.
If you’re looking for tools to help you implement Scrum methodology, there are plenty of choices. We’ve compared some of these platforms with others in our face-off articles. Take a look at Trello vs. Jira or Wrike vs. Basecamp to see how they did.
All the tools we’ve mentioned are free or have a free trial, so try them all and see which fits your team best.
If you’ve used any of these tools to help implement Scrum methodology, please share your thoughts in the comments. Thanks for reading.