If you’re working with the software development life cycle, you’ve got a project plan to manage and phases to move through. Your team is writing source code that needs to be controlled. Your testers have test cases and a test plan to manage. Your designers are creating complex design documents.
If you’re working with the agile development life cycle, your product owner has a master task list, backlogs, and task estimates to manage. Your scrummaster has sprints and scrums to keep moving along. You have burndown charts to analyze and a customer to please.
In both cases, there are a lot of moving parts. And in both cases, you need some life cycle software to help you manage all of them. An excellent option is something like Rational Team Concert – software that allows management of most of those things in one place. It also encourages collaboration. But do you have the time and money to invest in it as well as training?
Instead, you could also use various pieces of software that, together, will allow you and your team to effectively manage the project. You’ll need a piece of software for source control, one for the QA team to manage bugs in, and a tool for the technical team to develop in.
You can use products like Microsoft Word for requirements and design. Your team can use Microsoft Excel for test cases and data analysis.
The downside of a piecemeal solution is that it’ll be more difficult for you to manage. If the project starts falling behind schedule, it’ll be harder for you to figure out why. Everyone will be working in their own space and with their own tool. They’ll be communicating with each other but important messages can easily fall through the cracks. Or, early in the project, an issue may be created in the design phase but not caught until the testing phase – when it will cost much more time and money to fix.
That’s why it’s always better to invest in a collaboration tool like Rational Team Concert. It will be easier for you to see an overview of the project and spot any potential issues early. It also allows your team to communicate and work together better. Everyone will always know what everyone else is working on and you’ll be able to see project stats about how the team is performing.
You can be successful either way. However, it will take a lot more focus and effort on your part as a project manager to keep a project on schedule without a tool to support your team’s collaboration. It might be worth fighting for the budget to pay for the tool and training. At the end of the day, it will pay for itself by reducing the possibility of delays in timeline and unhappy customers. Happy customers will result in more money. At the very least, check out some various collaboration tools, including Rational Team Concert, and see for yourself if you think they’re worth it.