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Agile Tools Won’t Solve Your Problem Part 1

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http://www.flickr.com/photos/fixersphotos/3199566032/sizes/z/in/photostream/Many organizations put off an Agile transformation until they’ve evaluated and found the right Agile or Scrum tool that they believe will solve all their problems.

Others start with whiteboards and stickies and then as their backlogs start to grow, they begin to look into electronic Agile tools to solve their backlog management issues.

If either of those are the reasons you’re currently evaluating tools in the Agile space, I want you to stop it.

Right now.

Put down the tool and take a step back.

If you’re in the first situation, and you haven’t even started with Agile, then looking for an Agile tool will only waste your time.

Ask yourself, “Am I only evaluating tools because I’m afraid to get started?”

"What does this tool provide that is a prerequisite to getting started with Agile?"

Let me help you out, the answer is nothing.

There is nothing an Agile tool provides that prevents you from getting started without it. [click to tweet]

Instead of wasting your time evaluating tools, I’d suggest starting with the Agile Manifesto. You might notice that the first value listed in the document is,

"Individuals and interactions over processes and tools"

So we value tools, but we happen to value individuals and interactions more. Ok, so how can we get started with some individuals and interactions instead?

Well, there’s coaching and training (disclaimer: I provide coaching and training services), there are books, plenty of blogs (disclaimer: I have a blog, you may have read it), there are local Agile community group meetings, conferences, mailing lists, other Agile companies you can talk to, and more. The key thing to keep in mind when getting started with Agile is this:

Start learning, start doing, keep learning, keep doing. It’s what Agile is about. [click to tweet]

You don’t need an Agile tool to do any of that.

Here’s the situation I’ve seen with companies that started with a tool first.

You choose a tool before you really know much about Agile or how you’ll end up working. You start using the tool and as you learn more about Agile you discover¬† that it doesn’t really work the way you’d like it to. Except, now you’ve got data in it, you paid a hefty fee for it, and you just convinced everyone that it’s exactly the tool you needed. Now you’re stuck. Do you step up, admit your mistake and eat crow? Or keep using the tool even though it’s not working out all that great for you?

Guess which option most organizations choose?

There are a lot of great companies that make tools for Agile. You don’t need them to get started.

In part 2, we’ll see if you’re really going to need that tool later on.

Today’s image by fixersphotos.

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