Working this weekend on some new SharePoint stuff which you’ll see in a few weeks but thought I would pull together a list of tools to help people with Scrum. These are tools that help you plan iterations, keep track of your updates, and generally make life easier for the ScrumMaster or those working on Scrum projects. Not to say a plain old whiteboard with post-it notes or Microsoft Excel won’t do the trick, but these tools take you a little bit farther and help you keep track of things holistically.

Some are open source, others are not so check them out if you’re looking for something extra to add to your Scrum process. Where noted, I’ve given some suggestions about using these tools where I’ve already taken a look at them for you, but please make up your own mind with your own eval if you’re serious about a product (especially one that costs $$$).

Java server based artifact tracking system, highly customizable. Distributed under a BSD/Apache style license.

Double Chocco Latte
Sounds more like a special at Starbucks but this is a package that provides basic project management capabilties, time tracking on tasks, call tracking, online document storage, statistical reports, and a lot more. PHP based, supports both Apache and IIS, MySQL or SQL Server (and others), web based client. Distributed under the GNU General Public License (GPL).

This is a commercial product that provides program, project, and iteration management and fully embraces the Scrum process through requirements planning, release planning, and iteration planning and tracking. Trial version can be downloaded and run locally. Runs under ASP.NET and IIS with a SQL backend. I’ve given VersionOne a test-drive in the past and it’s complete and a good, solid product. The only thing is that it’s got a LOT of options so if you’re looking for something simple, this isn’t the tool.

GNATS is traditionally a bug tracking tool, but according to Jeff Sutherland it’s Scrum-ready (whatever that means). Licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL).

Select Scope Manager
A commercial web-based package that provides planning capabilties to all aspects of Scrum and XP projects. Evaluation version available to download from site. I’ve worked with some Select products in the past and they’re not bad, but not very customizable.

XP Plan-it
This is a hosted solution so you only need download the client and retrieve data from their servers. Commercial package but doesn’t seem to be anywhere you can download anything or even see the product. I would stay away from this one.

This is an interesting tool and very simple in appearance. It basically provides an electronic version of story cards and does some tracking (like your velocity). It’s simple but maybe too simple and personally I felt the interface seemed like an old VB app that someone threw together. Still, I think it works.

TWiki XP Tracker Plugin
Here’s a bit of a switch and not a stand-alone tool but a plugin for a wiki system (TWiki). It provides custom templates and helps you track information on XP projects. While not really Scrum related, it does let you track stories and releases so you might have to modify it in order to fully use it for Scrum (Scrum != XP). TWiki is released under the GPL and is Perl based (blech) so as long as you can run Perl you can run TWiki.

This is an open source Perl based system built for Linux and Solaris running Apache 1.3 or higher. They claim it will work on other platforms, but YMMV.

Another web based project that’s distributed under the GNU General Public License (GPL). Uses PHP and MySQL so running under Linux, Windows, or Mac should be fine. The demo doesn’t render under IE7 so I couldn’t check it out for you. 

Probably the grand-daddy of the open source projects of this type, XPlanner is distributed under the GNU Library or Lesser General Public License (LGPL) and free. Requires Apace Tomcat to run so expect to spend a little time setting this up on Windows (but it does run as I’ve done it). Lots of options, pretty stable, respects Scrum and XP and how they work, and very simple to use. Actively being worked on and many open source projects use it for their own planning (Hibernate, JUnit, Log4J, Struts, etc.) so updates are pretty frequent.

A professional looking product that touts features to support all aspects of Scrum. Support single or multiple teams working on the same or different projects. Client based but has a Web Client as well for some members of the team (say your PO that doesn’t need to get down and dirty with Sprint Backlog Items). Requires a trial license but you can get a copy for free just by requesting it. Nice piece of software that is backed by support forums, a wiki, and an API for extending it’s capabilities.

An interesting project that offers the ability to cover all aspects of Scrum (and then some). Very customizable down to custom fields you can display and use in reports. Client/Server based but features a plug-in for Eclipse if you have it in your environment. Guest accounts are unlimited and free (so POs and non-core team members can just use it to view the status of a Sprint). Downloadable trial but the full version will set you back some Scrum bucks.

I really like this tool, but maybe because it’s .NET web-based. It’s simple to use and setup and cost-effective for teams. While it doesn’t feature as many screens as other products, what it does supports Scrum and Agile projects with simple inputs and direct reports and charts. Nothing fancy but then neither is Scrum. Free trial avaiable and demo available online and you can download a 1–user pack completely fully featured and free (but with no support) so it’s great if you’re doing little one-man projects and you just want something to keep track of your progress and work. Supports SQL Server and MySQL but requires IIS and ASP.NET so it’s Windows only.

Lots of features for this commercial package, but not a lot of customization available so you can’t completely tailor it to your process. Requires Windows, Linux, or MacOSX platforms to run on (with Java 1.4.2 or higher and Apache Tomcat 4.1 or higher) or you can let them host your projects for you (for a fee of course). Simple interface makes it easy to enter information and covers all the aspects of Scrum planning including test case tracking and typical burndown charts.

Enteprise level hosted project solution. Tons of features and lots of customization available (even for an online hosted system). Met these guys in Calgary during Agile World a couple of years ago and back then the product was impressive, so I can only imagine what they’ve improved on. Free demo online to check out and setup a project to see if it works for you.

Scrum for Team System
Saving my personal fav til last. We’re using this on a few projects now and it rocks. An add-in guidance package for Microsoft Team System, it fully covers Scrum and lets you get work done fast. No customizable available but it works without it. Co-developed with Ken Schwaber so it reflects how Scrum needs to be done. Let’s users create their own views but comes with a dozen or so that are quite sufficient. Supports single team or multiple team projects and is currently being updated to version 2.0 where it’ll have more flexibility. If you have Team System in place and are struggling with the MSF for Agile package then take a look at this, you won’t be disappointed.

Bottom Line
If you’re a one-man shop, I suggest you check out TargetProcess as it can be setup in a few minutes on a server or your own development desktop. If you already have Team System in-place, take a look at Scrum for Team System. If you have nothing but could run say Tomcat, then XPlanner might be the way to go as it’s simple but works well. Give a couple a test drive and see what’s best for you.

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