11 Best Scrum Tools to Empower Agile Teams

Iterative approaches to software development have seen massive adoption in recent years. As per the 15th annual State of Agile Report by Digital.ai, 98% of respondents‘ organizations practice agile methodologies to some extent. Scrum remains the most commonly leveraged framework – used by 75% of respondents.

This widespread adoption stems from vast improvements agile practices bring to product quality, team productivity and time-to-market for technology and business teams alike.

However, to realize these full benefits, even dedicated teams can struggle with effective implementation of scrum principles without the right tools. Common pain points include:

  • Difficulty prioritizing needs and tracking progress across complex projects
  • Communicating constantly changing plans across distributed teams
  • Burdensome processes hampering productivity over software lifecycles
  • Inability to measure velocity and improvements opportunities through analytics

Fortunately, developers have responded to market needs with purpose-built platforms for enabling scrum techniques. Leading solutions transform the way agile teams collaborate, iterate, and deliver.

This guide explores the top scrum tools available today equipped to solve these real-world challenges – with a specific look at key considerations for lean startups and fast-growing businesses.

What to Look for in Scrum Tools

Before evaluating individual solutions, let‘s level-set key criteria that make platforms effective for scrum management:

Backlog Prioritization – Tools should provide an intuitive, yet robust way to rank and groom product backlogs – the master lists dictating development roadmaps.

Custom Workflows – Each teams‘ processes differ – so supporting Scrum boards beyond basic Kanban constructs proves essential.

Task Management – Tracking user stories and development items across sprints ensure nothing falls through the cracks.

Analytics & Reporting – Quantifying team velocity, productivity trends, and improvements through hard data optimizes planning.

Integrations – Tying scrum tools to existing platforms for communications and coding prevents ecosystem silos.

Scalability – Agile methodologies often expand across organizations – so capabilities to support more complex permissions and teams helps future-proof processes.

The 11 Best Scrum Tools for Lean Teams

Based on these criteria for effectively enabling scrum techniques, these solutions stand out as top performers specifically for early-stage startups and scaling product teams:

1. Jira

Jira needs little introduction as one of the most popular agile project management platforms on the market. Trusted by industry giants like Facebook, Jira manages software projects for over 65,000 customers globally.

Key Capabilities

Specialized Scrum Boards – Jira allows teams to choose between Kanban, Scrum, or both constructs within customizable boards. While feature-packed, configurability ensures teams model exact processes.

Backlog Grooming – Within Jira Software, product owners can create orders lists of prioritized backlogs with status indicators and dashboard views.

Powerful Integrations – Jira fortifies existing developer ecosystems with native integration support for 1000+ applications from top tools like GitHub, BitBucket, and Jenkins.

Security & Permissions – Sophisticated user, group and project permissions combined with enterprise-grade security enables scaling complex org structures.

Behind the Scenes

Unlike generic project boards, Jira allows custom field creation, permission schemes,filters and workflows so product, dev and design teams can model software lifecycle states like "In Development" or "Code Review" within boards. These abstractions simplify how cross-functional groups manage intricate processes.

Who it‘s Best For

With best-in-class features yet significant configurability, Jira proves the ideal single source of truth for medium-to-large enterprises managing multifaceted portfolios. While nimbler competitors better cater to early-stage startups just beginning agile journeys.

2. Trello

Since launching in 2011, Trello rapidly became one of the most ubiquitous project management platforms currently used by over 50 million users globally. Intuitive Kanban-style boards underpin Trello’s consumer-ish take on agile software coordination.

Key Capabilities

Flexible Kanban Boards – Trello popularized the Kanban system which developers adoption for modeling work status through To Do, In Progress, and Done constructs mirrored in most tools today. The flexible board interface allows endless custom lists and columns.

LightweightCoordination – Native integrations like commenting and attachments make collaborating across Trello’s boards simple for distributed teams. Plugging in Butler enables connecting cards to hundreds of apps.

Burndowns and Reporting – The included Charts tool quantifies team velocity metrics like task completion rates within sprints to spot bottlenecks. Third-party Power-Ups add enhanced reporting.

Usability – What Trello lacks in sophistication, it makes up for in newcomer friendliness. Most users can intuitively organize projects and adopt agile techniques within familiar interfaces.

Behind the Scenes

Unlike Jira, Trello sticks to essentials – forgoing ultra-configurable boards and permissions to avoid feature bloat. The product roadmap also emphasizes cellphone capabilities reflecting growing remote worker dependence. Constant UX tweaks demonstrate customer-centricity still guiding evolution.

Who it‘s Best For

Trello best suits smaller teams, like five-person startups, just adopting agile software methodologies given user-friendly Kanban interfaces mirroring physical board simplicity. Medium-sized groups can leverage native integrations like Butler to connect workflows before reaching scaling limitations.

3. monday.com

monday.com markets itself as a customizable work operating system. While extremely flexible, the vendor boasts tailored templates and views specifically for software teams practicing agile techniques.

Key Capabilities

Pre-built Frameworks – monday.com offers dedicated Scrum and Kanban board templates containing preconfigured columns, statuses, automation rules and dashboard charts suited for agile ceremonies.

Custom Workflows– No-code workflow builders allow any user to model multi-step processes spanning teams, statuses and items without coding for flexibility.

Enhanced Tracking – Cards representing backlog items and tasks dynamically update with progress bars and timestamps capturing the who, what and when automatically.

Portfolio-level Planning – Hierarchical multi-grouping constructs called Workspaces, Folders and Boards provide top-down visibility from executive roadmaps down to the team.

Behind the Scenes

monday.com open APIs fuel an emerging marketplace where customers and partners published over 200 automations and integrations tailoring the platform to novel use cases in just three years. Third-parties like Cuurent and Integromat now connect the OS to platforms like GitHub, Jira, QuickBooks and Salesforce.

Who it‘s Best For

Unlike Trello, monday.com better handles larger team scaling challenges through Workspaces aligning organizations, applications, teams and items in unified environments – making the tool suitable for 50+ person departments or mid-market clients.

Additional Scrum Solutions

Beyond highest rated Jira, Trello and monday.com, these niche solutions warrant consideration based on unique capabilities catering to startup budgets or specific pain points:

4. VivifyScrum

VivifyScrum tailors itself as the “All-In-One Tool for Agile Project Management”. While feature-rich to support complex initiatives, VivifyScrum impressively delivers ease-of-use and affordability.

Unlimited Free Version – Unlike competitors, VivifyScrum offers a perpetually free tier for small teams allowing unlimited members without feature restrictions beyond added security.

Scrum-Centric Features – VivifyScrum goes beyond basic Kanban boards with customizable workflows like adding reviewers before moving items between To Do, In Progress and Done. Useful for modeling governance.

Resource Management – Teams can assign members to projects then track individual workloads through per user dashboards – ensuring balanced resourcing across initiatives for accuracy.

Who it‘s Best For

VivifyScrum suits small dev teams with straightforward processes that desire advanced scrum-centric features like assignment tracking and custom workflows without the full complexity of enterprise-geared platforms.

5. Quire

Quire emphasizes agile project management for small businesses. Alongside Kanban-style boards, Quire bakes in automation plus views like calendar formatting and Gantt charts suited for Scrum events like sprint planning.

Free for Unlimited Members – Quire allows unlimited users, task boards, lists, cards and attachments at no cost for fledgling teams budget-conscious teams.

Native Sprint Support – Users can configure sprints within projects then assign corresponding tasks, to-dos and milestones using configurable views including calendar formatting for clarity.

Portfolio-level Oversight – Like Monday.com, Quire provides Workspaces for top-level visibility across multiple boards with summary dashboards empowering product owners.

Who it‘s Best For

The unlimited free version makes Quire worthy for entrepreneurs or solopreneurs willing to trade sophistication for core Scrum task tracking. The tool scalables up to 20 team members interactively collaborating before functionality gaps emerge.

6. MeisterTask

Dubbed “Minimalist Project Management”, MeisterTask intentional designs intuitive interfaces optimizing for usability. Flexible boards, clever automation and integrations mean MeisterTask still brings power features.

Consumer-style Design – Unlike corporate peers, MeisterTask borrows cues from consumer apps like toggling boards vertically for mobile-friendliness. Little UI touches enhance experiences.

Smart Task Management – Sections, tags, due dates and assignees allow drilling down into granular workloads while calendar heat maps provide oversight into bottlenecks instantly.

Burndowns and Reporting – MeisterTask quantifies work completed across sprints then tracks version history enabling point-in-time reporting for retrospectives. Leadership summarizes progress via dashboard widgets.

Who it‘s Best For

MeisterTask uniquely suits teams where non technical staff like marketing stakeholders collaborate with developers requiring intuitive interfaces while still benefiting from automation under the hood.

Scrum Platform Evaluation Criteria

Platform Free Option Mobile Access # Integrations Custom Fields Mult-language
Jira N Y 1,400+ Y Y
Trello Y Y 600+ Plugin Y
monday.com 14-days Y 200+ Y Y
VivifyScrum Y Y 50+ Y Y
Quire Y Y 25+ Y N
MeisterTask 14-days Y 100+ Y Y

Key Considerations When Selecting Solutions

While individual needs dictate tool criteria prioritization, analyzing a few universal elements proves prudent:

Integrations – Scrum apps shouldn‘t create disconnected experiences. Opting for platforms with existing connectors to vital productivity, communication and DevOps tools prevents disruptive ripping and replacing if needs evolve.

Permissions & Security – As agile methodologies scale across departments, the need for sophisticated access controls and security soars. Factor both governance and configurations to properly safeguard initiatives and comply with policies.

Adoption & Support – Getting teams to embrace new systems challenges even technologists. Choosing tools with consumer-leaning designs, plus available training and support, smoothes onboarding.

Final Thoughts

Scrum principles clearly revolutionized modern software engineering by championing respond-over-plan product development cycles. Top-tier tools now seek to fuel these agile pursuits for lean teams by eliminating common coordination, visibility and reporting roadblocks.

While developers universally praise category leaders like Jira, Trello and monday.com for delivering gold-standard scrum support, niche competitors today run impressively robust implementations with unique advantages around usability, security and pricing suitable for entrepreneurs.

Carefully evaluate all elements from release velocity tracking to evergreen budgetary requirements before committing to platforms. Do choose software complementing, not constraining, your innovative pursuits.