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[Review] SpiraPlan For Agile Teams


Written by  Ravi Vadugu | 14 November 2012
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SpiraPlanBeing in software industry for over 20 years and working as project manager for few years, it is interesting to see how software tools help in day to day organisation and implementation of software. Yes Agile manifesto mentions “Individuals and interactions over processes and tools”, there has been many software’s helping development teams meet that very end.


For example to conduct three ceremonies of sprint planning, daily meeting and sprint review, with teams spread across the globe tools would help all teams to be in same page. In this article I’m attempting to do quick review of SpiraPlan, one of the flagship products from Inflectra.

ONE SOLUTION:

On first looks SpiraPlan has all the functionalities that are required for Agile teams. As a project manager one needs to be able to plan project, estimate, plan release, plan resources and track project. Traditionally people has been purchasing and maintaining different software’s for different activities like word or excel for requirements, project plan Gantt charts for planning and tracking, emails, excel or access for bug tracking and so on. Above all document management software for base lining and maintaining documents. SpiraPlan provides all the features as one complete solution as shown below.

Agile enabled project mgmt

Iterative release planning could be done for the delivery of the project.

iterative

Administration: As an administrator, user would have complete control on configuration of SpiraPlan for their organisational needs. In the image below one would be able to customize projects, workflows, users, incidents, notifications, documents, custom properties, system settings and Integration.

SpiraPlan screenshot

After administration following image give details of different actions user can perform. Features are very intuitive for usage of user.


Once user is logged in, their dash board is displayed under link “My Page”. This page displays all the tasks, requirements, incidents... Basically action items that user is expected to act upon. This feature helps in planning of the day.

Project Home” is dash board for a particular project. Team could visualize the status of project and raise appropriate risks or plan the delivery accordingly.

“Planning” tab helps in grouping requirements to releases. Create iterations for delivery of release. Plan requirements could be included into iteration depending on capacity. Planning board helps in visualizing requirements, releases, iterations and various tasks, all in one screen.

What I liked in the planning tab is the “drag and drop” feature, which makes it very user friendly for team to include items in iterations and releases.

“Tracking” tab helps in tracking of tasks, incidents and resource usage.

Documents could be uploaded and linked to specific items. While incidents are being raised screenshots could be attached.

SpiraPlan includes an extensive library of printable reports and graphical charts. The reports can be customized through extensible XML based report templates. The supported report formats include: MS-Word, MS-Excel, HTML, Adobe Acrobat and MS-Project.

Methodologies

Designed specifically to support agile methodologies such as Extreme Programming (XP), Scrum, DSDM and Agile Unified Process (AUP) it allows teams to manage all their information in one environment

Deployment

SpiraPlan could be deployed on premise or used from a hosted service to save costs.

Support

Expert support all the time is one of the differentiators Inflectra claim. Based on the plan purchased first of support is free. After 1 year of free support, it needs to be purchased on yearly basis. Inflectra has got partnership with organisations across globe to for solution providers and software providers.

Integrations

SpiraPlan provides the ability to integrate with continuous integration build servers such as Hudson and CruiseControl so that the status of builds can be recorded in SpiraPlan and linked to source code revisions and incidents. This provides traceability for each build, so that you can see what was changed in each build and what was fixed.

In addition to being able to view the contents of the source code repository, using SpiraPlan you can link artifacts in the system to specific source code revisions. This allows you to associate implemented requirements, completed tasks or resolved defects/incidents with the corresponding code changes. This provides end-to-end traceability from requirements to software code.

Price plan

Pricing plan is very competitive. Based on requirements it is worth checking price plans for both on premise and hosted services.

Summary

Overall SpiraPlan has very rich features for running Agile project. It has very intuitive features like end to end traceability. User friendly features like drag and drop where applicable helps in better user experience.

On the down side, at places it needs some learning curve to get used to system. For example in the planning tab where users could create requirements, releases and iterations some training/help is required in linking requirements, releases and iterations. UI could have been bit sleeker if it needs to compete with few other tools in agile project management area.

Ravi Vadugu

Ravi Vadugu

An IT professional with over 12 years of experience. Project management is what i do. Curious/Interested in upcoming technologies, trends, software methodologies(e.g. Agile) and software tools. Love sharing knowledge with rest of the community.

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