Working with outsourced software development teams can be tough. Having them work with agile software development tools can be even tougher. That doesnâ€™t mean that it canâ€™t be done well if you have the right tools.
When you work with remote software development teams it is important to make sure everybody is on the same page when it comes to what needs to be done and when. If you are using agile methodology the requirement for project management and communication becomes key.
Here are a few project management tools we found to be great for communication and collaboration for non-project managers managing remote development teams.
1. Google Sheets
Google Sheets is just one of the tools in the Google Suite of cloud-based software that you have free access to when you sign up for a Google account.
Even if you donâ€™t use Google as your primary email provider, you probably already have a Google account, as one is required to do things like saving your watching preferences on YouTube.
If you have somehow managed to not make a Google account in the past, itâ€™s worth it for access to the Google Suite. However, a document created in Google Sheets can be shared with people who donâ€™t have Google accounts.
This means that, while having a Google account makes it easier to use Google Sheets, theoretically only the person who makes the document needs to have a Google account to share it with everyone else who needs access.
Google Sheets is really just a basic spreadsheet software, but you can use it to make all kinds of useful aids for team management, like contact lists and Gantt Charts. Once again, itâ€™s cloud-based so it can be updated in real-time, you can see who made what edits, itâ€™s always securely backed up, and itâ€™s super easy to share with everyone who needs access.
There are even sharing settings that limit the access that different team members have, in case you donâ€™t want everyone to have edit power but you want everyone to be able to see it.
If you have an Outlook (or Hotmail, for older users), you get access to an online version of Microsoft Excell. This tool is similar to Google Sheets in a lot of ways but has its own ups and downs. For one thing, it has a built-in tool for making Gantt Charts, which can really come in handy.
The downside is that it isnâ€™t integrated with other apps in the suite as well as Google Sheets is, so itâ€™s a little bit clunkier to use. Thatâ€™s why we recommend Google Sheets instead. But hey, if you like Microsoft over Google, thatâ€™s your thing.
Basecamp started out as being a web design company in the late nineties before becoming a project management company. In fact, the company designed its own project management company to solve its own problems before making them available to everyone else.
Basically, Basecamp is a suite of tools that aims to replace all of the different apps that most groups use for their agile software development tools. Email, chatrooms, document sharing, calendars, and other efficiency tools are all condensed to one viewing screen.
Basecamp can really simplify your life but it comes at a cost. We talked above that you donâ€™t need a Gmail to use Google Sheets or how if you donâ€™t care for the Google Suite you can use Microsoftâ€™s instead but all of that freedom is gone.
If you use Basecamp, you use Basecamp. Also, youâ€™ve got to pay for convenience. You could use a half-dozen free tools or you could pay to use Basecamp. Since Basecamp is a local Chicago company, we are big fans.
MondayÂ is a website that lets you create all kinds of charts. From custom calendars to Gantt Charts to delivery trackers.
The delivery tracker tool is really the only one that you couldnâ€™t do with free software discussed in this article, so if you donâ€™t really need that, you might not need Monday. Of course, their pricing structure is based on size, so if youâ€™re a smaller outfit it might be worth the $25/mo.
Jira is the first product that weâ€™ve discussed so far that is specifically meant to be used as an agile software development tool. As a result, its basic features are a lot like the basic features of a lot of the other tools discussed here (for the most part, itâ€™s a lot like Trello, which weâ€™ll get to in a bit).
So what special tools does Jira bring to the table? Integration with other developer tools, compatibility with loads of other apps, and custom filters and automation are just a start.
Jira starts at $10/mo for ten or fewer users but after that, itâ€™s $7/user/mo. It can get pricy for larger teams but itâ€™s one of the most powerful tools discussed in this article.
WorkBook is a lot like Jira in that itâ€™s a lot like everyone else but with a few extra tricks up their sleeve.
WorkBook allows you to make charts so that everyone knows what they should be working on. Thatâ€™s not all that it does. It also incorporates communication so that it can help you to consolidate some of your necessary tasks without locking you into a single platform for everything the way that BaseCamp does.
What really makes WorkBook stand out, however, is that it also helps tools to help you track yo
ur finances. Working with an outsourced development team can have a cost that gets away from you, so having built-in tools to help you track and manage your expenses is definitely a significant bonus. The website also has a helpful blog that can help you to come up with more ideas to make your agile software development tools work for you.
6. Zoho Projects
Zoho projects are another tool that primarily uses team management tools like charts and tables. However, it does also incorporate some other interesting tools, including chatrooms and a forum feature.
It also allows you to take the information that it collects or that you input and use that information to generate reports. These can help you to identify problem areas or to show the rest of your team how things are going with your outsourced workers.
The Zoho app also sends notifications of significant changes, and deadlines to usersâ€™ email accounts so that they donâ€™t need to constantly have the app open to get everything that they need.
The stand-out benefit for using Zoho is that it also allows you to track hours and write timesheets and invoices. If you hired your outsourced team through an outsourcing company or platform, these issues are already taken care of.
However, if you found and pay your outsourced team yourself, itâ€™s very handy that Zoho provides that feature. Most of the features that weâ€™ve discussed are available starting at $20 or $40/mo regardless of the size of your team but there are additional features available if you are willing to pay more.
Trello is a simple but powerful tool. It allows you to make Kanban boards, and thatâ€™s about it. What the tool lacks in complexity it makes up for in usability. The app is incredibly user-friendly, making it super easy to do things like set deadlines, name collaborators, move jobs, name categories, and more.
The tool also allows you to send links, so if you use one of the cloud-based file-sharing tools described earlier in this article along with Trello, you might have all that you need. Thatâ€™s especially true if your outsourced team is working and being paid through an agency or platform.
In essence, Trello is a great, minimalistic, free platform for groups that donâ€™t need the world, they just need a way to keep in touch with their team.
LeanKit is a lot like Trello in that itâ€™s based primarily around Kanban boards. Itâ€™s a little bit easier to use things like attached documents and files in LeanKit than it is in Trello. Other than that, the two are pretty similar besides the fact that Trello is free and LeanKit costs money.
SmartSheet is kind of like an app suite like the Google Suite or the Microsoft Office Suite except itâ€™s gone mad in the best way. It specifically incorporates project management tools, it allows you to make your own task panes, itâ€™s hugely integrative and thereâ€™s an impressive degree of automation, and there are tools to make your own forms.Â SmartSheets isnâ€™t free, but you have to contact the company to let them know your size and needs for them to make a package and price set for your situation.
When you are managing an outsourced team, it can feel like there is more than one manager. Sometimes this causes the issue of conflicting management styles. Perhaps one of you prefers Gantt charts and one of you prefers Kanban boards. Airtable allows you to seamlessly switch between board styles so that everyone can see the projects in their preferred view.
Thatâ€™s not all, however. Airtable is also great at managing multiple boards and even multiple groups. This is ideal for people who have multiple projects going with the same team or even people who use multiple outsourced teams. To be clear, Trello can have multiple boards too, but switching views between boards is much easier in Airtable.
We hope that this list of 10 of our favorite agile software development tools will help you to get started on getting along better with your outsourced development team. Unfortunately, we canâ€™t tell you which one of these tools is right for you. Each one has its own unique strengths and weaknesses. The right tool or combination of tools depends on your unique project and situation.
If you are looking for a great software development team for your web or mobile project, we would love to talk to you.