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Marc Löffler works as an Agile Coach with Sybit GmbH. Before getting in touch with agile methods and principles in 2006 he was working as a traditional project manager for companies like Volkswagen AG or Siemens AG. His passion is to help teams that are struggling with agile transitions and overcoming dysfunctional behaviour. He loves to generate new insights by approaching common problems from the other side and trying to deliberately make havoc of the process. Marc is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 13 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

5 Steps to Introduce an Agile Tool

08.29.2011
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There are tons of agile tools out there. Just have a look at this looooooong list on Mike Cohn’s site. But what is the best way to introduce such a tool in your team or company? I collected the following steps for you.

1. Start with no tool at all

A fool with a tool is still a fool. Before you introduce a highly sophisticated agile tool, you need to know how Scrum, XP, Kanban or any other method are working in your own context. If you use a tool right from the start, you won’t follow the process that best fits your situation, but the process the tool dictates. Every agile tool has it’s own understanding, how to implement Scrum or Kanban.

2. Use pen and paper

You don’t need a full blown agile collaboration tool to start your agile journey. All you need is a white- or cardboard, some super stickies and pens. That’s it. If you’re working in a collocated team, this is all you need. No distracting electronic tools and no fiddling around how to get this thing working. This is the best way to find out, how to implement your agile frameworks. When you understand, what agile is all about and how to adapt to implement it, that it fits in your context, it is time for step 3.

3. Start with the simplest possible

If you still think you need an agile tool, start with the simplest possible. You can set up a Kanban board in 15 minutes with Google Docs. Or use another simple card based tool like Digaboard, Flow or Linoit. Most of them are free, at least for small teams. The main advantage of those tools is that they don’t follow a certain process, and you can easily adapt them to yours.

4. Choose wisely

You’re still here? So I guess that you still think you need a “real” agile collaboration tool? Than choose wisely! As already mentioned, there are a lot of tools out there. If you followed step 1, you know what your agile process looks like. You need a tool that is easily adaptable to your process. Don’t become a slave of the tools process! If you can’t adapt the tool, skip it. Don’t hurry, when selecting the tool. You’ll probably have to work the next decade with it. That’t why it has to be the right one.

5. Get a training

After you chose a tool, it is important that everybody in your team gets trained. It is important that everybody knows how to use the tool. Nothing is more drowsy than a ScrumMaster fighting with the tool during a Sprint Planning. The tool has to serve you, not the other way around.

Conclusion

IMHO a full blown agile tool only makes sense, if you work with a distributed team. In all other cases, it decreases the productivity instead of increasing it. At least that’s my experience. I’m looking forward to yours, so please leave a comment.

Toolbox

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Published at DZone with permission of Marc Löffler, author and DZone MVB. (source)

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