I spent a chunk of last the week getting to grips with some agile project management software. It has some nice features – iteration planning, task tracking and a host of other functionality. However, I still found myself getting out the physical cards to work the estimate and planning. With the cards, you can sit with other people looking at the cards, pick them up, sort them, write on them, tear them up, all a very tactile procedure, something I find very natural and straightforward. With the software, there was many occasions where I was fighting the inbuilt work flow and form validation. Things that I wanted to do were disallowed. Forms required a lot of mandatory fields that weren’t important at the time. It was a stark contrast in usability. In this case, the planning software fits into a much wider organisational planning and configuration management process, not to mention we’re working in a team distributed across the world, so it’s electronic features are a hard requirement, and I see the benefits it brings, but the productivity costs are not negligible either.
Other takes on this subject:
- C2 Wiki has a long rambling discussion about this on the Index Card page
- Jason Yip: The things to watch to learn why to prefer cards over spreadsheets