Report: IBM, MKS Have Best Agile Management Tools

A new research report cited IBM and MKS as the best Agile development management tool vendors.

The two companies "led the pack with the best overall current feature sets," according to the executive summary of Forrester Research Inc.'s report, titled "The Forrester Wave: Agile Development Management Tools, Q2 2010."

The report stated: "MKS excels in process configuration, security and integration, while IBM demonstrates strength in the areas of undertaking work and task management." Forrester also gave the two vendors high marks for reporting and analytics.

The other vendors in the report are: Atlassian, CollabNet, HP, Micro Focus, Microsoft, Rally Software Development, Serena Software and VersionOne.

The companies are described as the top 10 leading vendors in the Agile space, which is "rapidly becoming the norm" for software development, according to Forrester. It referenced an earlier survey that found 35 percent of responding organizations used Agile as their primary development method, with Scrum as the leading development approach. Iterative development was cited by 21 percent of the respondents, while the traditional waterfall methodology is being used by only 12 percent of the surveyed organizations.

Besides ranking vendors, the new report also listed several best practices for Agile development. Forrester said its research indicated that scaling Agile practices is a common issue faced by organizations, and to scale effectively requires the use of automation tools. The two best practices for doing this are implementing "change-aware continuous integration" and "just-in-time demand management." Continuous integration is described as "integrating, building and testing source code changes early and often to reduce rework and integration issues." Just-in-time demand management involves connecting "business sponsors to project teams at frequent intervals to pull demand and, if necessary, reprioritize existing project tasks based on the latest information available."

The report also cited the importance of using dashboards to measure progress, quality and status; customizing processes to develop hybrid approaches that use only the most relevant Agile practices; and new ways of planning projects. These new ways include incorporating planning at many different levels, supporting collaborative techniques and providing an up-to-date visual representation of the plan.

While IBM and MKS received the highest rankings for their tools, CollabNet was cited as having the best strategy and Microsoft was said to have the best market presence.

Of the 10 vendors, VersionOne and MicroFocus received the lowest scores. The report said VersionOne "is less flexible than other products when it comes to reporting and integration with application life-cycle management (ALM) tools." MicroFocus "must clarify its future strategy for ADM before it can move into a leadership position," Forrester said. On Forrester's scale (from highest to lowest: Leaders, Strong Performers, Contenders and Risky Bets), none of the 10 vendors ranked below Strong Performer.

The full report can be downloaded from the Web site of Rally Software Development, one of the vendors examined by Forrester.

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.