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Using Cloud Tools in Agile Development

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Using Cloud Tools in Agile Development

The future belongs to cloud tools that can easily integrate with other tools

Pick one thing and be amazing at what you do

Can you name a project management tool that is great at covering all aspects of agile project management?

OK, and out of the remaining, which don’t require a rocket science degree to operate?

Traditional management software suites try to be all-in-one solutions. The problem here is that if you’re trying to be too many different things at once, you’ll end up being terrible at everything.

This is why today’s most successful SaaS products follow this simple model - pick one thing and be amazing at what you do.

The future doesn’t belong to all-powerful software suites run by large corporations - the future belongs to highly-specialised, easy-to-use cloud tools that can easily integrate with other tools.

Working in the Cloud - A Trello-GitHub-Toggl Track Example

To show you how an agile software consultancy could make use of different cloud-based tools to achieve smoother management and data collection, we’re using our own workflow as an example.

Specifically, we’ll show how to use Toggl Track, Trello and GitHub together with the Toggl Track Chrome extension to create a seamless, lean flow of development work.

Agile development workflow in Trello

Step 1 - Using Trello for organizing development work

This is what our Trello board looks like:

Essentially, we use it to manage our development work over the course of a business quarter. There’s a backlog, a list for active work and a “done” list for filing away all completed work.

Using this Trello board enables us to get a quick and accurate glimpse of how far along the development process is at any given time. The cards can also be updated with screenshots and tons of additional info when needed. This setup is also great for making sure the team is not multitasking too much (similar to a Kanban system).

All individual code related issues and items on our Trello board are in turn linked to specific GitHub tickets.

Step 2 - Connecting Trello and GitHub for better collaboration

Let’s take a random issue and open it up in Trello:

Trello and GitHub integration

You can see that there’s a nice direct link to a GitHub issue right there. Let’s open it up:

GitHub issue view

Nice! One simple visual link has enabled us to quickly move between two powerful management tools.

The next step is to use the Toggl Track time tracker to make sure we’re not losing any valuable data on our work.

Step 3 - Seamless time tracking with Toggl Track

Time tracking is used for collecting accurate data for better business decisions, but people can forget to log their hours. This is why we created the Toggl Track Chrome extension. Integrated into 50+ other tools, it brings the timer closer to the user.

Here it is in Trello (in case you missed it before). Let’s open it up:

Toggl Track integration with Trello

You can see there’s some time tracked under the ticket already. That's great if you just want a glimpse on how long something has taken so far without going to the Toggl Track webapp for the report.

More on that later - back to the timer now.

Clicking on the timer button starts the timer, and lets you attach a project to the time entry. Projects are one of Toggl Track's features designed for better organization of tracking data (tags and tasks are others).

Let’s also take a look into the same issue in GitHub. Again, the timer is visible right at the top of the issue:

Toggl Track integration with GitHub

With the Toggl Track browser extension, you can basically start the timer from whichever site you prefer. The data is synced to Toggl Track in any case.

Step 4 - Pulling reports for analysis

If you run a software consultancy, having an accurate record of all your work time is great for two things - for calculating fees for clients/employees and for coming up with better project estimates in the future.

Toggl Track does have a billable rates system but right now let's look at it from a business intelligence perspective. You can easily attach different clients, tags, and tasks to projects and time entries for filtering the data you want to look at.

Here’s an example of a week's development work, organized by project and sorted by duration:

Summary reports in Toggl Track

One thing that stands out immediately is the 19+ hours spent on maintenance related tasks. If this was an agency, this would be a warning sign to start looking for a new developer or to organize the way you provide support to your clients. It could also point to critical problems in your design process.

Once you have a detailed breakdown of how much work was done on separate aspects of the project, you can also use the information to either prepare a budget for a new client or argue your case if you think they are trying to sign you on for too cheap.

But most importantly, adopting a cloud-based workflow involving different highly specific tools allows you to organize your work and gather vital data without causing unnecessary grief to the people using your system.

3D illustration of stopwatch with a Toggl Track icon

The Bottom Line: Insightful Project Management

We recommend integrating Toggl Track into your daily workflow using Toggl Track's Chrome and Firefox browser extensions to save you from hours of confusion and guesswork. Manage your tasks in real time, stay aware of workflows, and create valuable time reports. No matter what you’re using, make sure it’s a simple and powerful tracking solution that syncs across all platforms and devices. The first step toward accountability is awareness!

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Get Your Know-How Here

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