15 Scrum Boards for your team

Matt Watson Insights for Dev Managers Leave a Comment

First, let me say I had no idea there were so many agile board solutions out there.

No worries, no SPAM. Opt-out anytime.

It is ridiculous.

The market is completely saturated with contenders. This probably happened because software devs have a particular way they like to work and when they can’t find something they like, they build it themselves.

However, out of the myriad of contenders there are some that clearly rise to the top. FYI: I am not being paid by any of the software companies mentioned here and this post is entirely my own opinion. Another FYI: I definitely lean towards the Kanban side of the fence as opposed to Scrum. I much prefer simplicity and ease-of-use over an enterprise-level kitchen sink featureset and and this preference has flavored my rankings here.

So without further ado I give you my personal list of agile development boards (in annoyingly descending order):

Scrum Boards/Agile Planning Boards Roundup and Reviews

#15 Lino

Cost: Free
Ease-of-Use: Extremely Easy
Details:

  • Primarily a simple photo-sharing board – not an agile board
  • Very easy to get started
  • No board structure, just one big canvas
  • Not intended as a structured collaboration tool but simply to share categorized snippets & files between users
  • Limited options for agile development methodologies

 

#14 Scrumworks Pro

scrumworks_pro

Screenshot from Collab.net

Cost: Expensive – $276 – $300/user/year without hosting
Ease-of-Use: Moderate to Difficult
Details:

  • Offers variations on both Scrum and Kanban boards
  • Extensive scrum reports available that track effort, timesheets, impediments
  • Integration with TeamForge, Jira, Bugzilla, Eclipse
  • Additional tools also available for project managers and management
  • Interesting feature for calculating “What If” scenarios and their impact on a project
  • Definitely more metrics focused for using scrum at an enterprise level. This is a heavyweight software product that takes time to setup, maintain and operate on a regular basis.

 

#13 Scrumy

Cost: Free, $7/user/month
Ease-of-Use: Extremely easy
Details:

  • Burn-down charts
  • Very easy to get started
  • Limited featureset
  • No flexibility to change board type or structure

 

#12 Target Process

Cost: Free, $9/user/month, $25/user/month
Ease-of-Use: Moderate to Difficult
Details:

  • Supports Scrum, Kanban, QA and custom workflow processes
  • RESTful API
  • Supports plugin integration with Subversion, Git, Bugzilla, TFS, Mercurial
  • Several analytics reports available
  • Adjustable WIP limits
  • Highly detailed audit history thread
  • Extensive email notification settings including customizable email templates for each notification
  • I could not find a way to simply add a task to the default Kanban board without first tying it to an existing user story. This left me with the feeling of being forced into a Scrum/Kanban hybrid methodology instead of a minimalist Kanban approach which is my personal preference. I have a feeling this requirement might be configurable in the custom workflow screens.
  • The sheer number of options and boards available is a little overwhelming if all you want is a simple Kanban board. This is another enterprise-level offering with all the bells, whistles and gadgets.
  • This one has a learning curve to understand the vast array of features. Plus the heavyweight nature of this kind of offering automatically entails more setup, training & ongoing maintenance work to make sure items are being entered & tracked correctly.

 

#11 OnTime

Cost: Free, $7/user/month, $100/10 users/year
Ease-of-Use: Moderate
Details:

  • Enterprise-level scrum & project management tool
  • Large number of options & customizations available
  • The “Card View > Workflow Mode” is the closest feature to resemble an agile board, but it’s not activated by default.
  • User Stories can be made the Subitems of other stories
  • Each task card displays a small bar representing burndown time on the task
  • The huge number of customizations available are overkill for small teams needing a simple agile board.

 

#10 SmartQ

smartqCost: Free 30 day trial, $5/user/month, $8/user/month
Ease-of-Use: Extremely Easy
Details:

  • Email notifications
  • Analytics reports available
  • Ticket form designer allows you to completely customize the fields requires by each task
  • Could not find a way to create additional swim lanes
  • Option to limit WIP per phase
  • Role-based permissions control for all users

 

#9 TFS Built-in Board

visual_studio_kanban_boardCost: Free for TFS users. Current TFS prices are here.
Ease-of-Use: Moderate.
Details:

  • Provides a nice visualization component for TFS, Microsoft’s software dev team collaboration offering.
  • No need to manually add stories and tasks into yet another system if you’re already using TFS. This can be a huge time-saver and also prevent problems keeping multiple systems in sync.
  • Requires TFS.
  • TFS is tightly integrated into Visual Studio, meaning that developers can update tasks in their IDE as they code, which are then immediately reflected on the agile Board component.
  • Configurable swim-lanes
  • TFS is another enterprise-level software offering with all kinds of bells and whistles. It’s brings great power to a project, but also a learning curve, setup costs and maintenance time.
  • If your team is already using TFS, this board is a strong contender.

 

#8 KanbanTool

Cost: Free, $5/user/month
Ease-of-Use: Extremely Easy
Details:

  • Customizable boards and swim lanes
  • Several pre-built board templates available
  • Each task has it’s own audit history, sub-checklist and comments discussion thread
  • Several analytics reports available

 

#7 Trello

trelloCost: Free
Ease-of-Use: Extremely Easy
Details:

  • Easy filtering & labeling
  • Allows tasks to be voted on
  • Activity feed of recent board changes
  • Color blind friendly mode
  • “Subscribe” feature for tasks didn’t notify me as I expected. (This could have been because Trello is smart enough not to notify you of your own activity)
  • I couldn’t find a way to create additional “swim lanes”

 

#6 AgileZen

Cost: Free, Paid versions scale from $9 – $99/user/month
Ease-of-Use: Extremely Easy
Details:

  • Extensive role-based permissions for all users
  • Integration with BitBucket, Github, Google Code, Zapier, HipChat, Campfire
  • “Ready to pull” status on tasks exemplifies kanban pull methodology.
  • Notifications available via both email and instant message clients
  • Several analytics reports available
  • Allows admins to set different WIP limits on the different phases of the board.
  • Now owned by Rally Software, which has it’s own agile development software, however there are no current integrations between the two that I could find.

 

#5 Kanbanery

Cost: Free, Paid versions scale from $8 to $90/month
Ease-of-Use: Extremely Easy
Details:

  • Intuitive boards make it very easy to setup and get started
  • Board phases can be given capacity limits
  • “Ready” checkmark on tasks exemplifies kanban pull methodology.
  • Option to show Git Commits on the board
  • Import tasks from a .CSV file. Export tasks to PDF or an AgileZen project.
  • Several analytics reports available
  • Activity stream (audit trail) of movement available.
  • Could not find a way to create additional swim lanes

 

#4 KanbanPad

Cost: Free
Ease-of-Use: Extremely Easy
Details:

  • Intuitive, simple design with zero learning curve
  • Easy drag n’ drop assignment and coloration of tasks
  • Great option for small teams that don’t need lots of extra features
  • Not able to create additional swim lanes
  • Task-specific comment threading
  • No task audit trail that I could find
  • “Wall Mode” is an interesting feature that only displays the minimal board elements, presumably for displaying on a wall monitor in a common area.

 

#3 DropTask

droptaskCost: Free
Ease-of-Use: Extremely Easy & Fun!

I really didn’t want to like DropTask. It just seemed too easy and too simplistic to be of any serious value for anything other than a simple task list. But I kept coming back to it and I actually found the process of entering tasks and moving them around to be ENJOYABLE. I simply can’t explain it.

The product doesn’t offer some of the advanced options available in other solutions in this list, but what it does, it does really, REALLY well. DropTask has huge potential and might well become the next evolution of agile development. I could easily see it outperforming other methodologies for specific use cases (although admittedly, no use cases spring to mind).

That’s why I’m ranking this one as #3 on my list.

Details:

  • Completely visual
  • Extremely easy to get going
  • Allows nested groups
  • Different views allow you to see tasks arranged by category, tags, deadline.
  • Requires a re-think of the traditional Kanban To-do/Doing/Done columns into a “Groups” mentality
  • Task activity audit trail
  • Slick interface that is a lot of fun to work with

#2 Leankit

Cost: Free, $5/user/month, $15/user/month
Ease-of-Use: Extremely Easy

In many ways, Leankit is the de facto standard of Kanban boards. It’s quick to setup, easy to understand and yet has huge complexity within reach if you need it. No other board on this list was able to cover both angles: the simple & complex, combined in one easy-to-use product.

Details:

  • Lots of helpful templates available when you upgrade to the paid service
  • Options galore – highly scalable to create very powerful boards
  • With great power comes greater complexity – the more advanced settings are a little more difficult to figure out
  • Has the ability to split swim lanes both horizontally and vertically
  • Several board analytics reports are available with options to filter by card type, priority, etc
  • Board history audit trail
  • Can create “board relationships” such as taskboard and drill-down relationships

#1 A Physical Whiteboard with Sticky Notes

Cost: Cheap – ongoing cost = post-its + markers
Ease-of-Use: Extremely Easy

As I wrote this blog post, I didn’t have a clear winner in mind. In fact, when brainstorming specifically about physical boards, I was surprised how many disadvantages there are.

Even so, I can’t escape a few simple facts that make a physical whiteboard my favorite. You have complete control over the design of your board. You see immediate visual cues without logging in or bringing up a webpage. You experience the inexplicable satisfaction of moving “done” post-it notes across the board and “archived” ones into a physical trash can.

But physical boards are chock-full of deal breakers for some people. No remote access. No audit trail. No automated analysis reports. Yet even after acknowledging these deal-breakers, physical boards are my firm favorite.

Details:

  • Total design flexibility
  • Immediately visible to anyone within line-of-sight
  • Seems more gratifying physically moving tasks to the trash when they’re done
  • Open accountability/transparency to management
  • No login/URL/computer required
  • Has myriads of collaboration/ diagramming/ note-taking uses, not just an agile board
  • Physical boards FAIL when working remotely
  • Sometimes sticky notes don’t stay “stuck”
  • Possible to run out of room on the board
  • Whiteboard notes can be accidentally erased
  • No audit trail
  • All notes are handwritten – reduced legibility
  • All data for analytics reports has to be entered into an additional tracking system manually.

Agile boards that didn’t make the cut

As I mentioned before, there are a LOT of agile board solutions out there. Here’s a handful of honorable mentions that didn’t make it onto the list:

Blossom.io
Flow.io
Greenhopper for Jira
Hansoft
Kanbanize
KanbanPM
ScrumBoard
Simple-Kanban
Swift-Kanban
TeamScrumboard
ToolsForAgile
Trichord
YouKan

About Matt Watson

Matt is the Founder & CEO of Stackify. He has been a developer/hacker for over 15 years and loves solving hard problems with code. While working in IT management he realized how much of his time was wasted trying to put out production fires without the right tools. He founded Stackify in 2012 to create an easy to use set of tools for developers.