As companies shift from small projects and teams engaged in Agile to more complex projects and potentially distributed teams, there is a need to shift from paper and spreadsheets to tools that provide workflow, persistence, and traceability.

Essentially, you can’t do Enterprise Agile well unless you have modern technology to support it – crystallizing processes, offloading huge quantities of manual tasks, and facilitating deep business-IT collaboration.

The technology to support Agile development has evolved substantially over the last few years, yet many organizations are unaware of the powerful capabilities best-of-breed Agile planning tools provide, including visualization, collaboration, automation, management analytics, reuse – and the list goes on. These solutions also have the ability to integrate with other tools business and development teams use every day, enabling the collaboration and business-IT alignment organizations need to deliver high-quality software.

Features of Effective Agile Planning Tools:

Bloor analysts Philip Howard and Daniel Howard recently published a Bloor InDetail Report describing the top capabilities companies should look for in a solution:

Cross-company Collaboration

Collaborative Agile planning tools are “obligatory” to keep Business and IT stakeholders in sync and improve requirements quality, particularly in large, complex environments. Bloor’s analysts write that capturing feedback from reviews can get “very fiddly,” and it becomes completely impossible to keep track of not only whether a user story was approved (or not), but why it was approved (or not) without the right tools. If you’ve ever sat in a room filled with business stakeholders asking “Why did we decide that?” you know what they mean.

Collaborators should be able to view information in context and provide input in an easily accessible way. Also, the history of that collaboration is valuable corporate knowledge that should be preserved in a centralized repository.

Traceability and Change Management

Given the complexity and the need for speed, detailed traceability from business objectives to requirements, along with tests and the test results, is mandatory to analyze and manage the impact of changes. According to Bloor, “a small change in one requirement could break something, say, seven layers removed from it.” If your company operates in a highly-regulated environment, this is an important consideration for achieving, maintaining, and proving compliance.

Process Automation

Requirements are the information-rich documentation of business needs and constraints that directly inform the downstream work of the development, testing, and operations teams.

Tools that offer business stakeholders the ability to use an intuitive, drag-and-drop interface to define requirements using the familiar construct of process models dramatically improve both productivity and quality. This is because they then draw on these visually-defined process models to accurately auto-generate downstream work items – like user stories, test cases, or end-user documentation. They also build traceability and impact analysis into the Agile and DevOps lifecycle – something governance, risk and compliance specialists depend on.

Integrations with other Agile ALM and DevOps Tools

To be effective with Enterprise Agile development, each team should be able to work and collaborate with other teams from within the tools they use every day. However, most organizations cannot afford to create those integrations manually. Information needs to flow freely in both directions across the toolchain to gain speed without losing quality. To enable this, teams need a solution that easily and flexibly integrates with the breadth of productivity and SDLC solutions on the market today.

Benefits of Agile Planning and Project Management Solutions:

As a result of implementing Agile Planning tools, large organizations reported that they expect to achieve efficiency early on, continuous value to the business, and visibility across the DevOps toolchain.

  • Efficiency gains in the earliest definition and analysis stages
  • Efficiency in managing product backlog, development tasks, sprints, burndown rates and releases
  • Value delivered to the business through the value stream
  • Visibility into all components of the DevOps toolchain
  • An improved understanding of the costs and budget burn rate
  • Visibility into a user outcome of implemented features
  • And finally, visibility into the automated governance and control points of the pipeline

Blueprint’s leading Agile planning solution, Storyteller, synchronizes with downstream ALM and test management tools to enable enterprise-scale Agile by automating and orchestrating business-driven goals and measures directly into the DevOps lifecycle.

Blueprint customers reported that by using Storyteller they have been able to:

  • Deliver successful products to market more than 40% faster
  • Decrease their number of defects and amount of rework by more than 30%
  • Deliver at least 80% of their releases according to their planned timeline, scope and budget

By adding Storyteller to their toolchain, customers are delivering better products faster, enhancing customer satisfaction, and realizing measurable returns on their investment.

To learn which features have the biggest impact on driving customer success and see the full survey results, click here

“Blueprint’s Storyteller is an innovative product that is geared for Agile teams facing common enterprise challenges such as distributed stakeholders, a complex domain, or regulatory concerns,” says Scott Ambler, Founder of Disciplined Agile. As Agile teams adopt Blueprint products into their toolchain, they experience dramatic improvements in automation, alignment, speed, defect rate, and most importantly, business value delivery.”

You can’t be Agile all the way through if your back-end systems’ functionality and deployment pace are limiting front-end customer experience agility. Agile infrastructure and technology will energize existing Agile initiatives and push the greater use of Agile at scale.