Agile dog jumping over a hurdleWhen you have multiple people working on one or more projects all at the same time, good communication is positively critical. Using the right agile project management (APM) tools for the job can mean the difference between monumental success and utter frustration, but perhaps we should discuss idea of APM in the first place.

The conceptual framework was introduced in 2001 in the Agile Manifesto. This described what they called “agile software development,” and the idea was to uncover “better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it.” There’s a focus on having “working software” and maintaining proper interactions between the individuals involved. It welcomes changing requirements, even late in development, if it means that a better product is ultimately produced.

Some of the other principles include self-organizing teams, rapid delivery, daily co-operation between business people and developers, simplicity, and perhaps most importantly, regular adaptation to changing circumstances. Think about it. You want a tool that allows the individual contributors to naturally organize into appropriate teams. You want these teams to be cross-functional with the ability to cross-communicate easily with one another. You want the tool to adapt to your needs quickly, offering great flexibility as your priorities and even your organizational structure change.

While this framework was first envisioned in the context of software development, the same principles can be applied to the management of all sorts of projects. And so, a growing variety of agile project management tools were born, many of which are available as cloud-based services that require no local installations. Most of these allow for great task management, including grouping and changing their level of “completeness.”

Let’s have a look at some of them.

Free Agile Project Management Tools

If you have the smallest possible budget — zero dollars — then these tools are among your only agile options for project management.

Trello – Trello boards are collections of lists, which are in turn collections of cards. These can be thought of as the different tasks. Trello works with smartphones and tablets, as well as desktop PCs, and is free for now. “Value-added” features may be added later on.

Redmine – This web application was written using the Ruby on Rails framework, so it is open source (released under GPL) and is cross-platform compatible. It supports multiple projects and offers flexible role-based access control.

Timebox

Timebox Online

Timebox – Designed to be simple, Timebox is one of the more intuitive APM tools on the web. It supports backlog imports from Excel and will be free until it provides “lots of value to lots of people.”

Free and Premium Agile Project Management Tools

The following APM tools have free versions, typically for smaller teams and with more limited functionality. You can then upgrade to paid versions for larger teams and more robust features.

Scrumy – Loosely based on Scrum, this utility lets you create stories (groupings of tasks) and then drag the tasks between columns. A new “story” can be instantly created and is publicly accessible. A $7 per month upgraded version is also available.

TargetProcess – Embracing both the Scrum and Kanban approaches, TargetProcess is used by such organizations as Sony, Intel, and Microsoft. The paid version starts at $25 per user per month.

AgileWrap – This cloud-based tool offers lean project management, real-time visibility, and easy collaboration in distributed teams. The free version allows for up to five users with the paid version starting at $10/month.

Yodiz – There are specialized screens based on the different roles of the users, as well as cloud-based hosting backed up every 10 minutes. Have up to five users free, after which it is $3 per month per user up to 15 users.

Waypoint

Waypoint Agile PM

Waypoint – Work can be split into themes, user stories, and tasks in Waypoint. Notable features include the burndown of available time and budget, a smart project splitting function, and a budgeting feature. It’s free for up to five users, then it’s 10 to 15 Euro per user per month.

Rally – Rally’s Agile Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) platform strives for shorter delivery cycles and greater customer satisfaction. The community version allows for up to 10 users for free. The Enterprise edition and Unlimited edition are $35/month and $49/month, respectively, on a per-user basis.

Version One – Progress can be tracked using the interactive Storyboard, Taskboard, Testboard, and Burndown charts. Management is centralized in a single, easy-to-use environment. The “team” version of this APM tool is free for up to 10 users with pricing starting at $175 per year for up to 20 users with the Catalyst Edition.

AgileZen – If you like APM ools that are very visual in nature, this might be a good fit. Visualize your work and see the big picture. The free version allows just one project and one collaborator, though, so you’ll need at least the $9 a month “personal” plan.

Paid Agile Project Management Tools

They say that you get what you pay for, so the assumption is that these paid APM tools should be more powerful and more approachable. Of course, your mileage will vary, so take advantage of those free trials where available!

Assembla – A single activity stream is displayed to your whole team, including code repositories and bug tracking features. The starter plan is $9 per month, going all the way up to the $99/month professional plan.

Pivotal Tracker

Pivotal Tracker

Pivotal Tracker – Like Assembla, Pivotal Tracker also offers one view for all users. This facilitates real-time collaboration, including through a Campfire chat and the available iOS app. Prices start at $7 per month.

ScrumDo – As its name clearly implies, this tool was designed from the ground-up for Scrum. You can assign points to tasks and organize stories by rank. Plans start at $5.95 per month.

Agilo Software – There are two versions of this software. Agile for Scrum is focused on user stories and sprint planning, whereas Agilo for trac is a flexible Scrum tool plug-in for trac. Licenses start at 9 Euro per month.

Basecamp – As far as APM tools go, Basecamp is one of the best known and most widely used. You may already be familiar with Basecamp Next and its drag and drop features, for example. Prices start at $20 a month.

Gemini

Gemini

Gemini – Focused mostly on issue tracking and bug tracking, Gemini integrates with Quickbooks and offers powerful help desk functionality. The on-demand version starts from $49 per month, while the local installation starts at $399.

Mingle – Key features include real-time visibility, inter-team collaboration, search, and release date forecasting. Be prepared to pay at least $400 per user per year.

ScrumWorks Pro – Considering that this was created by one of the founding pioneers of Scrum, it has to be pretty good. Enjoy Kanban management, custom data reporting, TeamForge integration, and iteration management. Available as hosted or on-site, ScrumWorks Pro starts at $276 per user per year with a minimum of five users.

Atlassian – This is a family of products for teams, starting with the JIRA project tracker for issues, tasks, features, and bugs. Add GreenHopper for Agile project management. The Kaizen Project provides insight into the best performing agile teams. Prices start at $10 per month.

ProjectManager.com – What you get here is comprehensive project management software that allows you to manage your teams online and track daily progress. It comes with intelligent reporting, result tracking, time tracking, expense tracking, online storage, and the ability to import Microsoft Project plans. Pricing starts at $15 per user per month with unlimited projects and a 30-day free trial.

Image credit: scatto / Fotolia

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