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      Top 5 Tools for Workload Management and Other Project-Related Activities

      Julia Teryokhina, Senior Presales Engineering Manager

      May 15, 2024

      In the dynamic world of software development, effective project management is the key to success, especially when it comes to managing team workload. It’s like orchestrating a symphony where every team member plays a crucial role. With the right project management tools and techniques, tasks flow seamlessly, deadlines are met, and creativity thrives. No more asking, “Hey, has anyone seen the project plan?” only to find it being used as a coffee coaster. These tools streamline communication, keep everyone on the same page, and ensure that every member’s workload is manageable. Ultimately, they empower teams to deliver top-notch software, on time and within budget—and with far fewer emergency pizza orders to keep everyone working late into the night.

      ZipDo reports the following statistics:

      project management tools

      Key aspects for project success

      Before we start reviewing planning tools that can lead a project to success, let’s define what makes a project successful. Traditionally, a successful project is the one that is completed within the agreed timeline, budget, and scope. However, many managers add a crucial fourth criterion: ensuring all team members go home on time without overtime. Tools like project management software, collaboration platforms, and workload trackers can help keep projects on schedule while respecting work-life balance, creating the conditions for a truly successful outcome.

      Here are the key areas in a project that require careful attention:

      Project planning and tracking 

      This involves setting the timeline, milestones, deliverables, and team allocation (who is needed, when, and how many). Additionally, any activities that could impact deadlines, like setting up an Apple TestFlight account for mobile app testing, should be accounted for. Once the project begins, continuous tracking and recalibrating of the plan is crucial, especially if requirements or priorities change.

      Requirements management

      Clear and consistent management of project requirements ensures that the final deliverables meet the stakeholder’s expectations. This involves gathering, documenting, and maintaining requirements throughout the project lifecycle. It is particularly important to maintain consistency and coherence during the change management process as the project progresses.

      Scope management

      This process defines the work to be completed within a given timeline, preventing scope creep and keeping the project within agreed-upon boundaries. It involves setting clear objectives for each sprint and identifying key deliverables. Cross-links between planned tasks and their corresponding requirements are crucial, ensuring focus and alignment with project goals. By tracking and adjusting the scope for each sprint, teams can manage expectations and deliver results on time.

      Team workload management

      Effective workload management is crucial to prevent burnout and ensure successful project execution, especially for remote development teams. It requires understanding each team member’s strengths, weaknesses, and current capacity. To accurately estimate team workload, it’s crucial to establish initial task estimates, track remaining work for each task, and maintain a regular work log where team members record their work hours. This helps identify who is overloaded or underloaded, allowing you to redistribute tasks and balance the workload.

      Quality management

      This area is about ensuring project deliverables meet the expected standards and requirements. In addition to software functionality and usability, it covers code quality and technical debt control. Tools like SonarQube and GitHub CodeQL automate code quality checks within the CI/CD pipeline, identifying issues such as code smells and vulnerabilities. To monitor quality in real time and address problems quickly, project managers should choose issue-tracking systems with dashboards and comprehensive reporting features.

      Delivery management

      This involves organizing the final handover of the project, ensuring it is delivered to the client or other stakeholders on time and in line with expectations. The delivery package should include release notes describing new features, bug fixes, and other changes, a Quality Assurance (QA) report that also presents the results of test case execution, and a report with key performance indicators (KPIs), such as schedule compliance, estimate accuracy, and budget variance. A key part of effective delivery management is using the right tools to reduce manual effort when creating release notes and other deliverables.

      Project planning and workload management tools

      To manage projects and software development teams efficiently, it’s essential to use tools that integrate seamlessly into your development environment. This minimizes manual work and mitigates potential errors resulting from switching between different systems. A cohesive ecosystem ensures that data flows smoothly, communication is streamlined, and all team members have a unified view of the project’s status, leading to more successful project outcomes. 

      Below, we’re describing the tools that are best suited for managing software development projects.

      Atlassian Stack

      The Atlassian stack is renowned for its comprehensive project management solutions. The popular combination of Jira, Confluence, and Bitbucket caters to the diverse needs and requirements of most projects. A major advantage of this setup is its seamless integration, allowing smooth data transitions and transparent processes for the whole team. This makes it easier for project managers to oversee every step with minimal effort.

      For those seeking an alternative to Jira, Trello looks a viable option. With its simplistic board-and-card system, Trello provides an easy way to visualize work in progress. However, its functionality is comparatively limited compared to Jira, particularly in terms of advanced reporting, complex workflow automation, and detailed project tracking. This simplicity makes Trello suitable for smaller teams, but for those in need of a more comprehensive project management, Jira is preferable.

      From automating task assignments to orchestrating  workflow transitions based on specific triggers, Jira allows you to automate entire processes within the platform. Additionally, integration with other services ensures seamless data flow. Jira automation capabilities make project management more effortless, reducing manual labor and the risk of errors, thereby allowing project managers to focus on higher-level strategy and decision-making.

      workload management tools

      Here is how the Atlassian stack can be applied to the key areas of project management:

      • Project planning and tracking: Jira excels in detailed iteration planning, featuring sprint tracking boards and reports (such as sprint velocity and team velocity), and Jira Roadmaps to visualize overarching project timelines. With Advanced Roadmaps, you can create comprehensive project plans that enable simultaneous management of multiple teams. However, it lacks features for automatic task rescheduling and resource leveling, which makes the process more manual and less automated. Trello, on the other hand, offers even fewer capabilities for planning and tracking project progress, but it works well for maintenance projects where you need to monitor open issues and prioritize their completion.
      • Requirements management: Confluence serves as a robust solution for documentation tracking, including versioning and cross-references between wiki pages, ensuring requirements remain consistent and integrated.
      • Scope management: Jira boards (SCRUM, Kanban, or custom configurations) and backlogs are effective for managing project and iteration scope. Trello, with its simplicity, is suitable for smaller projects, generally using the Kanban methodology.
      • Team workload management: Jira provides features to compare planned workload with team capacity. This can be achieved through built-in tools, reports, and a wide range of community plugins.
      • Quality management: Software quality control is a core aspect of Jira’s functionality. Integrating with code quality tools like SonarQube further enhances quality management by allowing for control of technical debt within the standard Jira workflow.
      • Delivery management: Jira supports version and release management, including the automatic generation of release notes. Its close integration with Bitbucket or other CI/CD servers, like GitHub or GitLab, allows for automated delivery packages throughout the entire pipeline.

      GitHub Stack

      GitHub is a great choice for remote software development teams, enabling code collaboration, issue tracking, and task management from anywhere.

      Here’s how GitHub can be used to address key areas of project management:

      • Project planning and tracking: GitHub Projects is ideal for Kanban-based iteration planning, offering customizable boards for task tracking. It provides tools like issues, milestones, and Gantt charts to organize and visualize project timelines. However, GitHub doesn’t support automatic task scheduling, resource leveling, or budget tracking.

      • Requirements management: GitHub Wiki allows you to document requirements and maintain consistency across the project. However, its functionality is more basic compared to Confluence.

      • Scope management: GitHub Issues allows you to create, assign, and track tasks, using labels to categorize items and milestones to mark project stages. However, GitHub is mainly Kanban-focused and lacks advanced Scrum features like sprint planning, burndown charts, and sprint retrospectives. For Scrum-specific functionality, consider third-party integrations like ZenHub.

      • Team workload management: GitHub does not offer built-in features for work logs, task time estimates, remaining time tracking, or timesheet generation. You can use GitHub Projects and GitHub Insights as  basic tools to manage workload by tracking task assignments and deadlines. To bridge the gaps in this functionality, one can apply to third-party integrations like ZenHub, WakaTime, or Clockify.

      • Quality management: GitHub isn’t primarily designed for quality assurance (QA), but you can create a specific issue type called “Bug” to track open bugs in your software. Although GitHub doesn’t offer built-in QA reports, you can generate custom ones using third-party tools like Microsoft Power BI. Additionally, GitHub CodeQL can be used alongside SonarQube to enhance static analysis and improve security vulnerability detection.

      • Delivery management: GitHub Actions can automate the delivery process, from building to deploying software. GitHub Releases lets you manage versions, create release notes, and distribute software to stakeholders, offering a complete solution for automated delivery and release management.
      GitLab Stack features

      Here’s how GitHub can be used to address key areas of project management:

      • Project planning and tracking: GitHub Projects is ideal for Kanban-based iteration planning, offering customizable boards for task tracking. It provides tools like issues, milestones, and Gantt charts to organize and visualize project timelines. However, GitHub doesn’t support automatic task scheduling, resource leveling, or budget tracking.
      • Requirements management: GitHub Wiki allows you to document requirements and maintain consistency across the project. However, its functionality is more basic compared to Confluence.
      • Scope management: GitHub Issues allows you to create, assign, and track tasks, using labels to categorize items and milestones to mark project stages. However, GitHub is mainly Kanban-focused and lacks advanced Scrum features like sprint planning, burndown charts, and sprint retrospectives. For Scrum-specific functionality, consider third-party integrations like ZenHub.
      • Team workload management: GitHub does not offer built-in features for work logs, task time estimates, remaining time tracking, or timesheet generation. You can use GitHub Projects and GitHub Insights as  basic tools to manage workload by tracking task assignments and deadlines. To bridge the gaps in this functionality, one can apply to third-party integrations like ZenHub, WakaTime, or Clockify.
      • Quality management: GitHub isn’t primarily designed for quality assurance (QA), but you can create a specific issue type called “Bug” to track open bugs in your software. Although GitHub doesn’t offer built-in QA reports, you can generate custom ones using third-party tools like Microsoft Power BI. Additionally, GitHub CodeQL can be used alongside SonarQube to enhance static analysis and improve security vulnerability detection.
      • Delivery management: GitHub Actions can automate the delivery process, from building to deploying software. GitHub Releases lets you manage versions, create release notes, and distribute software to stakeholders, offering a complete solution for automated delivery and release management.

      GitLab Stack

      GitLab stands as another software development platform that fosters collaboration among remote engineers and cross-functional project teams. While being similar to GitHub, GitLab distinguishes through an array of itself built-in features, making it a more comprehensive tool for advanced project planning, scope management, team workload management, and quality management.

      Here’s how GitLab covers each of the considered project management areas:

      • Project planning and tracking: Like GitHub, GitLab focuses more on iteration planning than on comprehensive project planning and tracking. It also lacks resource leveling and automatic task scheduling. However, GitLab Issues offers robust tools for visualizing tasks and tracking project milestones, while the Roadmaps feature enables you to plan project timelines and track task dependencies.
      • Requirements management: within GitLab lies a dedicated Requirements Management functionality, allowing users to create, track, and link requirements throughout the project lifecycle. Unlike GitHub Wiki, which provides basic documentation features, GitLab’s requirements management is structured and designed for detailed traceability. This feature enables you to establish relationships between requirements and issues, ensuring consistency and alignment across the project’s various stages.
      • Scope management: GitLab Issues functions similarly to GitHub, but it includes Epics and Roadmaps, offering more extensive scope management for both projects and programs. With GitLab’s issue-tracking system and Agile boards (including Scrum and Kanban), you can define epics, stories, and tasks, set dependencies, and manage priorities. The Milestones feature allows you to set project phases and track progress toward key goals.
      • Team workload management: GitLab provides team workload management tools, offering built-in reports, work-in-progress (WIP) tracking, and the ability to assign tasks to specific team members with set deadlines to manage capacity. Its Roadmaps and Epic features enable planning across multiple teams, while advanced analytics, burndown charts, and workload distribution reports ensure balanced workloads and help prevent overload.
      • Quality management: GitLab’s Code Quality feature automatically scans code for issues, providing real-time feedback to developers. Additionally, GitLab supports integration with diverse code quality tools like SonarQube. GitLab presents an array of built-in QA reports showcasing detailed results from automated tests, code coverage reports to track the percentage of code covered by tests, security reports, and performance testing capabilities.

      Delivery management: With GitLab’s CI/CD, you can set up automated pipelines to build, test, and deploy software. GitLab empowers users to define environments for different stages of deployment, such as staging and production, and configure rollbacks and automated deployment rules. GitLab’s Release feature supports version management and the generation of release notes, enabling seamless delivery and deployment processes.

      Gitlab features

      YouTrack

      YouTrack is a JetBrains tool that offers a variety of features to help manage software development teams and projects. Here’s how YouTrack can cover specific project needs:

      • Project planning and tracking: By harnessing YouTrack’s capabilities, you can create multiple sprints, each with customizable start and end dates, allowing you to plan ahead and structure your project timeline. You can set deadlines, prioritize issues, and track project progress with various built-in reports and analytics. The platform offers burndown charts to monitor sprint progress and Gantt charts for visualizing project timelines and dependencies. Like the tools mentioned above, YouTrack doesn’t support automatic task scheduling or resource leveling.
      • Requirements management: YouTrack’s Knowledge Base fosters users to create wiki-style articles to document project requirements, providing a platform for creating, organizing, and sharing project-related content. With features like issue linking, collaborative editing, and version control, you can link requirements to tasks, collect stakeholder feedback, and maintain a comprehensive record of requirement changes throughout the project lifecycle.
      • Scope management: YouTrack provides flexibility through its Agile boards, supporting both Kanban and Scrum, with customizable workflows to manage tasks, user stories, sprints, and more. The Backlog feature allows you to prioritize issues and organize work for efficient planning and execution.
      • Team workload management: YouTrack helps review team capacity with features like task tracking, work-in-progress (WIP) limits, and various visualizations. The built-in timesheet feature assists team members in logging work hours, providing insights into task time allocation. You can also create custom workflows to automate task assignments for even work distribution.
      • Quality management: YouTrack facilitates quality management through customizable issue tracking, integration with code analysis tools like SonarQube, and a variety of QA reports, including the Matrix report. The Matrix report provides a visual representation of the relationship between different issues, such as issue criticality by epic, allowing you to analyze trends, assess risks, and prioritize tasks. This feature offers a tabular view for comparing metrics and gaining deeper insights into project dynamics.
      • Delivery management: YouTrack can integrate with CI/CD tools like JetBrains’ TeamCity, GitHub, or GitLab, enabling automated delivery processes by connecting with CI/CD pipelines to streamline builds and deployments. While it doesn’t offer a built-in release note report or a dedicated release management feature, YouTrack allows you to automate tasks with custom workflows, and its customizable reports provide insights into delivery timelines and key milestones.
      Gitlab features

      Microsoft Project

      All the tools mentioned earlier lack the capacity to track an entire project plan, manage budgets, and calculate the required number of resources for each project stage. This is where Microsoft Project comes in. It’s a robust solution for detailed project planning, resource management, and scheduling. Supporting Gantt charts, critical path analysis, and automatic task scheduling, Microsoft Project is perfect for planning and tracking project releases. Its standout feature is resource leveling, which automatically balances workloads to prevent overallocation. It’s also excellent for detailed budget planning, setting milestones, and managing team capacity throughout various project stages. However, it might not be the best option for granular planning of smaller iterations. Despite integrating with other Microsoft tools like Teams and SharePoint, it offers fewer collaboration features compared to platforms like Atlassian and GitLab. Thus, Microsoft Project can most effectively be used as a complementary tool alongside other project management platforms.

      So, which tools ensure project success?

      With so many tools available, choosing the right one for your project can be challenging. The best choice often depends on your project’s specific needs. The technology stack or target deployment platform can significantly impact which project management tools are most suitable. 

      The need to fix the budget, stick to tight deadlines, or maintain flexibility through agile methodologies are all crucial factors to consider when choosing the right tools. Monitoring team workload is also essential, as this is critical to project success. Since business leaders often juggle multiple responsibilities, they usually have little time to manage the complexities of software development. That’s where our expert team comes in. With our support, you can focus on what truly matters: growing your business.

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