XPlanner is a project planning and tracking tool for eXtreme Programming (XP) teams. To summarize the XP planning process, the customers pick the features to be added (user stories) to each development iteration (typically, one to three weeks in duration). The developers estimate the effort to complete the stories either at the story level or by decomposing the story into tasks and estimating those. Information about team development velocity from the previous iteration is used to estimate if the team can complete the stories proposed by the customer. If the team appears to be overcommitted, the set of stories are renegotiated with the customer. The XPlanner tool was created to support this process and address issues experienced in a long-term real-life XP project.
XPlanner is a Java Web application designed to support team management according to the extreme programming methodology (XP). However, we have found this tool to be flexible enough to provide valuable support for other mainstream agile approaches (e.g., Scrum) in the heat of project delivery. Although unsophisticated, XPlanner provides a handy tool to support your team whether you are experienced with, or just launching into, the rewarding world of agile software development. It has following main features:
- Simple planning model
- Virtual note cards
- Support for recording and tracking projects, iterations, user stories, and tasks.
- Smart continuation of unfinished stories (unfinished tasks copied, copied stories are crosslinked).
- Distributed integration token (with email notification)
- Online time tracking and time sheet generation at individual/team level
- Metrics generation (team velocity, individual hours, …)
- Charts for iteration velocity, Scrum burn down, distribution of task types, dispositions, and more..
- Ability to attach notes to stories and tasks (with attachments).
- Iteration estimate accuracy view
- Page showing task and story status for individual developers and customers.
- Export of project and iteration information to XML, MPX (MS Project), PDF, and iCal formats.
- TWiki-style text formatting support with support external tool integration and extensible wiki word linking.
- Integrated, extensible authentication supports multiple projects with project-specific authorization.
- SOAP interfaces for advanced XPlanner integration and extension.
- Language support for English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Brazilian Portuguese, Danish, Russian, Chinese, and Japanese..
Traditional vs Agile team management tools
Traditional team management tools (such as Microsoft’s Project) are based upon work breakdown structures that look far into a project’s future. Planned allocation of resources and a careful eye on variance to baseline are used to manage the “critical path” to final delivery. The application of such tools implies substantial upfront planning efforts, rigid task dependencies, and a stable base of requirements. Significant changes to scope or requirements are likely to necessitate significant revisions to the model. Thus, these traditional tools are most appropriate when planning a journey from A to B, assuming little variation in course. In contrast, agile projects are geared to expect change, making no assumption that B is even to be the final destination.
In understanding the culture of the agile project, it is useful to consider the tenets of agile development as espoused by the authors of the Agile Manifesto:
- “Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
- Working software over comprehensive documentation
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
- Responding to change over following a plan”
Thus, agile projects explicitly abandon long-term planning in favor of intimate stakeholder engagement, clear focus on high value features, and releasing usable software early and often. The underlying goal is to simply and effectively deliver value in the face of constant change. For a planning and tracking tool to be valuable in this context, it must be congruous with these values.
Why you should choose XPlanner
Here are our favorite benefits of the XPlanner tool in the context of agile team management:
- It’s free
- It’s simple to install and use
- It’s Web-based (stakeholders can view your progress using a Web browser from the other side of the world)
- It quickly gets everyone involved in team management—empowering users and developers alike.
For more details please go to http://xplanner.org