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I attended a monthly Agile Professional Development chapter meeting last evening in Dayton, Ohio. It was the second such meeting to occur (hats off to Sam O’Brien who organized it). It was attended by developers, business analysts, scrum masters and newly minted professionals (newly minted is defined as my company is doing agile and I’m it)! A topic of conversation was this, which project portfolio management (PPM) tool does your company use? Several in the room said they are using Microsoft TFS, Microsoft Excel, IBM Rational Team Concert, others are listed here. I was struck not by the use of the tool, but by the diversity. If you talk to professional project managers in software development and ask them which tool they use you’d get one of two responses, Microsoft Excel or Microsoft Project. Not to go down the track of comparison and contrast; but, more importantly, the conversation shifted to when to introduce a tool. Several in the meeting suggested not to use a software tool but use an information radiator (more on that later). I shared a story of introducing a tool tool soon to a scrum team I was coaching and the team revolted! The tool was ‘forced’ on the team without their request (a no, no) and after training (1 day), they were off and running. Performing their work on the iteration while learning a new tool was not an easy thing to do. Obviously they had problems using the tool, which impacted productivity, and these problems were discussed passionately during the retrospective. My lesson learned, make sure before the team uses a software PPM tool they are proficient in using more traditional agile tracking tools (information radiator, burn down and velocity charts, product/iteration backlog, buildup charts, etc.) and events (daily scrums, sprint planning, sprint reviews, etc.). And most importantly, make sure the team asks for a software PPM tool to use. This will alert you to the team’s growing self-sufficiency, maturity, and willingness to be transparent. This will also save you a ton of headaches and I told you so! Your thoughts?

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