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How do collaboration tools support agile teams?

Daniel J. Power
Editor, DSSResources.com

Agile philosophy emphasizes collaboration and communication among team members and with clients and other stakeholders. A wide variety of computer-based software has been developed that is identified as collaboration and communication tools. This umbrella category is used for software and online services that support people who are working together on common projects across time zones, long distances, and at various physical locations. A collaboration tool can be as simple as email and as complex as sophisticated, multiuser project management software applications. Managers must understand the benefits and limitations of collaboration tools and should be familiar with software available to support teams. This discussion is a review and it suggests guidelines for choosing the right tool(s) for a specific team project.

The purpose of a collaboration tool is to help a group of two or more people accomplish a common goal. Bika (2019), Nieuwland (2017) and others review collaboration tools. Bika's (2019) short article provides brief descriptions of 4 communication tools and 10 collaborative project management tools. Some tools are very narrow and specific in their capabilities while others are more general. The four communications tools include 1. Flowdock chat support, 2. GoToMeeting video conferencing, 3. Slack instant messaging, file transfer, and message search, and 4. WebEx personalized video meeting rooms.

Nieuwland (2017) starts with evaluating Workzone and then examines competing products/services. This review emphasizes the broad category of project management collaboration tools. The following six collaboration tools seem especially useful for agile work environments:

Asana (https://asana.com) helps plan, organize, and manage projects for small teams. Users may assign tasks to other members, add followers to projects and monitor deadlines.

Google's collaboration tools include Google Docs and Sheets. These tools allow teams to edit files at the same time and save all the changes automatically.

monday.com (https://monday.com) is a tool that simplifies the way teams work together. Users can manage workload, track projects, move work forward, and communicate with people. Previously known as Dapulse, it "has a great visual design so itís easy to understand and work with".

Redbooth (https://redbooth.com/), formerly Teambox, is a cloud-based project management, collaboration, and communication platform. Its platform allows users to plan and collaborate through many functions from video conferencing to creating Gantt charts.

Trello (https://trello.com) has boards, lists, and cards that enable you to organize and prioritize your projects. It is easy to learn and works well for monitoring projects and assigning tasks. Trello also makes using Agile, Scrum and other project management frameworks easy.

Workzone (https://www.workzone.com) is for project management. Users can view status updates with cross-project dashboards.

Some other project tools that are available include: Blossom (https://blossom.co/), Clarizen (https://www.clarizen.com/), Jira (www.atlassian.com/software/jira), Microsoft Project (products.office.com/en/project/project-management), Podio (podio.com/), ProjectManager.com, Roadmap Planner (www.roadmap-planner.io), scrumblr (http://scrumblr.ca/), SmartSheet (www.smartsheet.com), and Wrike (www.wrike.com/).

Choosing a tool can be challenging because many possibilities are available. Start at product websites. Check the product features and costs. If a free demonstration version is available, try it. Pick a tool that is easy to learn, intuitive to use, and easy to maintain. Small teams need different tools than large distributed teams. Pay for only the features you need. Evaluation criteria should include: 1) User Interface (UI), 2) Ease of Use, 3) Integration capabilities, 4) Value-added, and 5) Features and Functionality. In general, a cloud-based tool will be the best choice.

Based upon 5 case studies of Chinese software vendors, Batra, Xia, & Zhang (2017) asserted "Coordination software can help a vendor manage dependencies and workflows. These software tools allow a project manager to ensure that different parties can identify blockages and address impediments. The tools allow the customer to perform project management tasks such as examining who is working on what task (p. 436)."

Computer-based tools are fast becoming the primary way that people collaborate and communicate. These tools can help teams manage and organize projects. A computer-based tool can centralize daily tasks and provide team members with a means to view the status of tasks.

References

Aston, B., "Quickly Compare The 10 Best Agile Tools For Managing Projects," DPM, 06/12/2019 at URL https://thedigitalprojectmanager.com/agile-tools/

Batra, D., W. Xia, and M. Zhang, "Collaboration in Agile Software Development: Concept and Dimensions," Communications of the Association for Information Systems, Vol. 41, Article 20, 2017 at DOI: 10.17705/1CAIS.04120 Available at: https://aisel.aisnet.org/cais/vol41/iss1/20

Bika, N., "The 14 best collaboration tools for productive teams," Workable, 2019 at URL https://resources.workable.com/tutorial/collaboration-tools.

GSA, "Collaboration Across Agile Teams," GSA Tech Guides at URL https://tech.gsa.gov/guides/Collaboration_Across_Agile_Teams/

Nieuwland, J., "28 Best Collaboration Tools To Improve Teamwork in 2018," Workzone, June 1, 2017 at URL https://www.workzone.com/blog/collaboration-tools/ .

Last update: 2019-09-30 02:54
Author: Daniel Power

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