Managing projects in a rapidly changing and highly competitive market requires a lot of flexibility.
Your project management approach must be responsive, adaptable, and collaborative - or in other words, agile - to deliver value to clients and customers.
You also need quality agile tools and a team that fully understands and embraces this project management methodology to help you succeed and stay competitive. But agile project management has different phases and might look different depending on the industry, so the learning curve might be a little steep.
Luckily, you found this article which will answer the most important questions on agile project management including:
What is agile project management?
Why do you need agile tools?
What should you look for in an agile tool?
What are the best agile project management tools?
Agile project management is a project management method that focuses on working collaboratively with stakeholders and using their feedback to improve products and projects throughout their cycle.
The stakeholders could be either internal (team members or teams within the organization) or external (such as clients, customers, experts, and regulators).
In agile project management, tasks are divided into different phases so that the performance of the product or project can be evaluated at every stage for necessary changes to be made. Involving stakeholders in every phase of the project requires consistent communication and collaboration.
Agile tools are designed with features that help teams easily integrate agile methodology in their project management. They support the adoption of agile methodology in projects in specific ways that reflect their primary use.
For example, Airgram is designed to help teams manage their meetings and make them more productive. As an agile tool, it supports communication and collaboration by helping teams map out their meeting agenda and next steps.
More generally, agile tools help you:
Simplify and move easily between different processes of your project
Monitor stakeholders’ feedback and input and make iterations where necessary
Stay focused on project-related tasks
Visualize project progression
Track team’s performance
Increase overall team productivity
Quickly adapt to and document the changes that occur during the project cycle
So, if you value continuous improvement, flexibility in your work process, and delivering value for your stakeholders, you need agile tools.
Even if you are not keen on agile project management, you need agile tools if you are struggling to stay on top of all your projects, failing to meet deadlines, or having a hard time with communication.
As a rule of thumb, your needs and expectations for your business will determine what you look for in an agile tool. But for the sake of this article, we will focus on two main things - factors relating to your team and a general criteria for quality agile tools.
Your team is a crucial consideration when you want to select the right agile tool because the tools will be used (and likely managed) by them.
The following are key things to consider:
Team Size: Some tools are designed for specific team sizes. Pricing tiers are also sometimes determined by it. So, you want to make sure that you carefully consider this.
If a platform is too small for your team, it will not accommodate all your team members and might make it difficult for you to do your best work. But if a platform is too big, it might cost you more without really delivering additional value relevant to your projects.
What you need is a tool that accommodates your current team size and has the potential to scale at your pace.
Industry: Agile was originally used for IT-related projects until non-IT teams began to realize its potential in helping them improve their project management.
Now, in addition to industry-fluid tools like Wrike, there are some tools that are better suited to specific industries and product classes. For example, a sales team will be better off using Monday.com instead of Jira.
Technical Competence: Your team’s learning curve would usually depend on how tech-savvy they are and how complex the product they are using is.
So, if your team members do not have a technical background or are uncomfortable with complicated interfaces, you might want to consider using tools that are easier to navigate.
Otherwise, you can invest in getting them the training they need to navigate and get the best out of your preferred platform.
Communication Preference: You need to ask questions like, “Does my team prefer emails, calls, or chats?”, “How often do we need to communicate?”, “What are our current communication methods?” and “How effective are they?”
Communication is a huge part of agile project management and most tools incorporate some kind of communication feature or options for integration.
You must determine which communication channel(s) is right for you. It would be best if your selection is both effective and reflective of your team’s preference.
Project Scale: Not all tools are a fit for different project scales. If your team typically executes small-scale projects, you might not need to invest in tools with complicated features and processes.
In addition to the factors relating to your team, you need a definite guide on what makes a quality agile tool.
A quality agile tool must have best-in-class functions of what makes project processes agile - responsiveness, collaboration, and adaptation.
The following are the criteria reflect them:
Options for integration with your work tools
Support for communication and collaboration within teams and with stakeholders
Both pre-built and custom workflow automations
Decent file storage capacity
Nimbleness and responsiveness
If you are looking to do your best work using agile methodology, here following are some of the best tools you can use:
Best for meeting management
Starting and maintaining steady communication and information throughout a project cycle often requires meetings. Granted, many project management tools incorporate a messaging or chat function to make communication easy. But this often does not present the level of depth and clarity that meetings do.
However, meetings could also be a waste of time if they lack structure, have undefined goals, or end without a plan on how to move forward with their resolutions.
Airgram not only prevents this but ensures that your meetings are agile.
The first way Airgram does this is by helping you plan your meetings. You can use any of Airgram’s templates to structure agile meetings so that you do not deviate from the main goal of your meeting.
Airgram also has a range of features that makes it easy for you to keep track of ideas, feedback, and resolutions during meetings, including time-stamped notes, AI extraction of key information, and action items.
You can also collaborate within your team or with stakeholders on your notes, sharing highlights in clips, or editing transcripts.
And since you can record and live-transcribe your meetings, you can all go back to watch it again or read transcriptions to get clarification on any resolution or task you are unsure of.
Airgram has an intuitive interface that is very beginner friendly. So, it does not matter if you are tech savvy or not, you will find Airgram easy to use.
Agile meeting templates
Clip creation and sharing
Speaker detection and identification
All Airgram’s features are currently available for free.
Airgram is perfect for both individuals and teams of every size looking for an effective tool to make their project meetings agile and more productive.
Best for collaboration within and between teams
Wrike is a highly-customizable project management tool that helps teams plan, monitor, and collaborate on tasks.
A huge part of its offering is the 360° view of tasks and projects it gives teams in an organization. You can also add progress bars to your tasks using Wrike's customizable features to visually monitor the progress of individual tasks and their pace.
Wrike also supports unified communication and internal and external collaboration so that your team, organization’s departments, clients, and other stakeholders can stay aligned and up-to-speed.
Teams can stay agile using Wrike by planning and executing their sprints faster and more effectively with its various features, including the sprint planning templates that break projects into smaller tasks, Scrum boards for easy organization and management, and the Gantt chart for better time and resource management.
In addition to all these, Wrike has custom integrations with over 400 applications supported, including sales, business intelligence, file storage, and messaging. This ultimately makes its functions more robust and adaptable to individual team needs and project types.
But all these come at a cost. Wrike is quite pricey and you can only access its best features when you opt for its more expensive plans.
It can be a little difficult for new users to navigate.
Progress bars on tasks
Centralized approvals, feedback, and asset reviews location
Live activity stream on project and task levels for team members and stakeholders to see updates and participate in conversations in real-time
Free to custom pricing are available.
If you are looking for a tool that combines great stakeholder collaboration and project management functions for more mid to large-sized projects, Wrike is a great fit.
Best for sales teams and customer relations management
Monday.com functions as both a project and customer relationship management tool. It has in-built CRM functions that make it easy to manage and monitor customer information, campaigns, customer support queries, leads, and sales funnels.
As an agile project management tool, Monday.com keeps you and your team on track and supports continuous iterations by making project tracking and collaboration easier with its chat, file-sharing, and activity log functions.
Its Kanban feature helps you manage and stay on top of your workflow by giving you insight into your projects and tracking iterations and backlogs. You can also create custom dashboards to get a visual of processes, timelines, priorities, and progress against the resources and time you have left.
Monday.com supports over 50 apps including Slack, Microsoft Teams, Jira, Zoom, Dropbox, Mailchimp, and Calendar, to make information sharing and workflow automation across the platforms easier.
Monday.com is compatible with Android and iOS.
Work performance insight
Analytics and reporting
Project data visualizations & dashboards
Free to custom pricing are available.
Monday.com’s intuitive design and diverse offerings make it a good fit for teams with different levels of technical expertise and sizes.
It is also great for teams that want to centralize their sales and project management.
Best for individual and team productivity
Nifty is a workspace and project management tool that is designed specifically to help remote teams successfully execute projects and stay productive. Its primary approach for achieving this is structuring projects around milestones, which are the team’s main objectives.
Each milestone is further divided into smaller, more actionable tasks for team members to execute.
You can also easily automate your workflows and have your data in one place with its native integration function that supports integration with other project management and communication tools. This will save you and your team a ton of time that you might have otherwise spent switching across different apps and exporting data.
In addition to its direct messaging that allows team members to communicate and collaborate on tasks, Nifty also has a discussion thread that accompanies each project. This helps ensure that communication is project-specific and instant.
Nifty’s interface is intuitive and tidy, so you won’t feel overwhelmed as a beginner navigating it for the first time. You can easily order, manage, and monitor your tasks without much training or support from their customer service representatives.
Overall, it does a good job helping teams map out and execute both large and small details of their project.
A major drawback, however, is that compared to similar products, Nifty is expensive. But it combines the function of different work tools you would no longer need to pay for, so the trade off might be valid, depending on what your team’s needs are.
Visual progress reporting
Time tracking & reporting
Built-in discussion board
Workloads that show what different team members are working on
Personal to-do lists
Free - $4,788 annually
Nifty is great for teams looking for a single, easy-to-use platform for their small and mid-sized projects.
Best value for money
Asana is primarily a task management software. You can use it to assign tasks to team members, set and change due dates, and create task dependencies.
But it has several features that help teams simplify the execution process for sprint plans and agile projects.
For example, Asana has Kanban boards that can help you visualize and prioritize tasks, monitor the progress of your projects, and spot problems. You can also use its timelines for mapping out project plans, sharing, and modifying them as the project progresses.
Asana is highly customizable. You can use the graphical workflow builder to create custom automations for your workflows and repetitive take by pre-setting your triggers.
Its built-in tools for collaborations allow teams to make announcements, ask questions, and share updates and feedback on plans, mock-ups, and projects, so that iterations can be efficiently made and tracked.
Time tracking with integrations
Forms branching & customization
Custom rules builder
Free to custom pricing.
Asana is a fit for teams and projects of different sizes.
Best for client collaboration
Teamwork was created to make client collaboration on projects more efficient.
It is built majorly for complex project management that involves different stakeholders and processes, including creating tasks, sub-tasks, and dependencies, defining priority levels, assigning roles, budgeting project time, monitoring, reporting, invoicing, and more.
You can carry your clients along throughout the entire process. They can monitor the project health status, view updates, make comments, ask questions, and provide feedback.
This way, teams can spend their time receiving feedback and making necessary iterations, while clients are assured that their vision will be brought to life.
However, navigating Teamwork could be hectic for some - especially for new users. You are presented with a lot of functions that could make using it overwhelming.
Despite this, Teamwork has both native and Zapier-supported integrations for increased functionality and automations. This means that you can rely on it solely for both your workflows and project management.
Integrated team chat
Collaborative document editor
Workload and resource management
Project time budget
Free to custom pricing are available.
Teamwork is a great and affordable option for service-based organizations willing to apply the time and patience necessary to learn how to navigate and get the best out of it.
Trello is well-known for its agile project management approach.
It uses Kanban for project visualization and management. So, you simply create a board to start a project. You can then include checklists, files, team members, and automations relevant to the project.
From your board, you can track the progress of your project, organize tasks, and collaborate with team members.
Trello is very easy-to-use. Its simplicity can be attributed to its limited options, especially when compared with other powerhouse project management tools. But it makes up for this by having an impressive integration range.
Trello supports more than 100 integrations, including Jira and Slack. So you can connect it to your other work tools to get more out of it.
Analytics & reporting
Assignee and due dates
Custom backgrounds & stickers
Free - $210 annually
Trello is perfect for simple, small and medium-sized projects and for teams whose projects typically do not require a lot of processes.
Best agile tool for developers
Jira is a software developer’s dream. It has agile project management and issue tracking solutions for software developers and IT teams.
Its main functions guide and assist IT teams throughout their project cycle, making it easy for them to focus on making iterations and delivering value.
For example, you can use a sandbox to test out and experiment with your new product to get a fair idea of how it works and how well it performs so that you can tell if changes are necessary. Its bug tracking and issue management function can also help you locate, resolve and report on bugs.
Roadmaps are also a big part of Jira’s offerings. It has both basic and advanced roadmaps for teams. The basic roadmap is designed to empower you to build a roadmap for your team while the advanced roadmaps are designed to help you build plans across multiple teams.
But Jira is not easy to navigate for beginners and non-tech savvy users. Its feature volume and complex functions make its learning curve steep.
Bug tracking and issue management
Analytics and reporting
Free to custom pricing are available.
It is a great product for tech-savvy project teams with projects of different sizes.
Best project management spreadsheet
Smartsheet is a spreadsheet-based project management platform.
It has a broad use case and can be adapted to manage different kinds of projects for different industries.
Smartsheet’s resource management functions and Gantt chart helps teams to plan, execute, and report projects. It also has detailed work insights that give you a view of your work trends, activities, and challenges.
It offers a number of basic options for communication such as message boards and forms. In addition to these, you can also leave comments on a sheet or rows.
Like many of the other tools reviewed, Smartsheet allows you to create automations to make your workflow seamless and more efficient. You can set the action and conditions that trigger the automation. You can even set alternative actions - all without writing a code.
But like Jira, Smartsheet has a steep learning curve - especially for people who are not very familiar with spreadsheets.
Private sheets and reports
Forms with conditional logic
Pre-built automation rules
Report grouping and summary
Free trial to custom pricing are available
Smartsheet can be used by individuals and teams for projects of any size.
And because it is spreadsheet-based, people who like using spreadsheets might find it more enjoyable to work with.
Best all-purpose project management tool
ClickUp has a robust function-set that provides you with the tools you need in every stage of your project cycle - from the idea stage to when the project is concluded.
Whiteboards, for example, are a great way for your team to collaborate on brainstorming ideas. They can also use the Mind Map to break down ideas into actionable steps for execution.
You can also plan and organize your tasks using ClickUp tasks with weekly meetings to daily reminders to stay on track.
ClickUp also excels in communication and team collaborations. It has real-time chat channels where team members can discuss projects and share updates. You can mention specific team members and assign comments to them.
Another feature worthy of note is the ClickUp Automations. You can use it to build your own automations of tasks and workflows. This is in addition to the several other pre-built automations that make work and project processes easier.
Pre-built and custom automations
Free to custom pricing are available.
ClickUp’s feature range and pricing tiers make it a good fit for teams of different sizes and project scales.
Best for product backlog management and sprint planning
After stakeholders give feedback on a product during the development phase, developers are expected to make the changes and improvements as and when due. But to ensure that they properly prioritize their deliverables and remain on schedule, they need tools like Zoho Sprints.
Zoho Sprints is a best-in-class tool that helps you organize your product backlog and simplify your sprint planning. This way, you get a full view of all your backlog items in their order of priority and avoid missing important feedback. The effect? Continuous and timely iterations throughout the project cycle.
And this is exactly what you need to deliver a quality product at the end of the project cycle.
Your stakeholders can also see your backlog. This ensures that they are up to speed on the progress of your project and can provide timely feedback.
Zoho Sprints also has a collaborative project feed where team members can drop comments, post updates, or share information and ideas on projects.
Zoho Sprints’ major problems are its interface and cost. It is not intuitive and may be challenging to navigate for new users. It is also quite expensive.
Project feed and activity stream
Project and sprint dashboard
Client and vendor portal
Custom layouts and fields
Free to custom pricing are available.
Zoho Sprints is better suited for IT with mid to large-scale projects.
There you have it! These are some of the best tools you can use to elevate how your team works and manages projects.
We must, however, underscore the importance of having agile meetings at the beginning of and throughout your project cycle. And there are four main agile meeting types that teams can adopt at different project stages:
If you are unsure about how to structure your next meeting using agile methodology, check out Airgram’s agile meeting templates.
Michael started his career as a product manager and then developed a passion for writing. He has been writing on technology, remote working, productivity, etc., hoping to share his thoughts with more people.