Nine best Scrum tools to master project management

Atlassian By Atlassian
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Scrum is a framework for software development teams to develop, deliver, and sustain complex products. It allows companies to continuously deliver value to their customers. You can think of Scrum as a set of tools to get work done.

Products, particularly software, change constantly—from requirements to goals. Scrum helps teams expect and embrace change by breaking down large projects into smaller features they can complete quickly through frequent iterations.  

Project managers use Scrum tools such as Jira to strengthen collaboration, increase project transparency, and track progress in real-time. This guide will cover what Scrum tools are, the benefits of using Scrum tools in project management, and more.

What are Scrum tools?

Scrum allows teams to take complex projects and split the work into manageable groups of tasks. Sprints, the smaller and more focused projects, quickly and efficiently address the highest-priority tasks.

Scrum tools support Scrum ceremonies, such as sprint planning, daily progress tracking, refining backlogs, and using retrospective data for continuous improvement. During these collaborative team activities, Scrum tools keep members focused by linking the work to its value. 

There are a number of scrum tools available, ranging from non-traditional and open-source tools, such as Kanbanara and Agilefant, to those that are customized for software development teams. You could even manage Scrum with spreadsheets, but tools designed for Scrum and its methods let development teams focus on the work instead of managing the tool.

Jira includes Scrum templates to help manage tasks by simplifying collaboration and progress tracking.

Benefits of Scrum tools in project management

Scrum is a popular project management framework because it delivers tangible benefits, such as:

  • Project managers can split complex projects into smaller features to deliver value to customers faster and more frequently.
  • Scrum meetings provide transparency and promote collaboration, allowing teams to adjust to changes and address roadblocks quickly.
  • Backlog refinement focuses on customer-centric goals and priorities. These goals align with the product roadmap, which is your long-term product plan that aligns with company goals.  
  • Focused sprints make teams more productive, optimizing schedules and resource allocation.
  • Feedback from customers, stakeholders, and project retrospectives provide data-driven continuous improvement opportunities.

Key features of effective Scrum tools

When evaluating Scrum tools, consider features such as the ability to manage sprints, track progress, and measure performance. Tools should include:

  • The ability to create task boards that provide a visual representation of the progress of ongoing sprints. For example, Jira boards include various visual layouts for tracking tasks by status: to do, in progress, and done.
  • The ability to document user stories, which are informal explanations of features from the users’ perspectives, helps teams collectively understand their goal. For example, “I (store owner) must link the product's serial number to the customer who purchased it.”
  • The ability to conduct sprint planning, which includes collaboratively defining each sprint based on the goal (what), the work (how), the team (who), the tasks (backlog inputs), and the outcome.
  • The ability to see real-time updates, such as percent complete for each status on the task board.

Types of Scrum tools

The size and complexity of your project and team will determine the best Scrum tool. While some tools focus purely on task management, tools designed for Scrum offer robust collaboration and communication platforms.

Look for tools that support advanced backlog refinement, creating user stories, gathering requirements, prioritizing tasks, sprint planning, and aligning the project with the product strategy and roadmap. Additional features that optimize the Scrum approach include knowledge management capabilities, collaborative whiteboards, virtual meetings, and real-time communication. Together, these features lay the foundation for effective sprint planning and execution.  

9 best Scrum tools for project management

Many factors impact which Scrum tool is the best for your project. Some factors to consider include the size and structure of your team, the complexity of your projects, other tools you want to integrate, budget constraints, and training requirements. The following are nine top Scrum tools used by project managers and Scrum masters:

1. Best for backlog management: Jira

Jira is the #1 choice among Agile software development teams. It includes templates to break down complex projects into manageable tasks for effective backlog refinement and sprint planning. With real-time visual status updates, teams can quickly respond to changes and roadblocks. It also supports remote and geographically dispersed teams seamlessly with always-up-to-date task scheduling and tracking. 

2. Best for documentation and knowledge management: Confluence

With Confluence, you can house all documents and related information in a central repository. Whether it’s customer surveys, requirements documents, product strategy, or other supporting data, you can seamlessly integrate knowledge management into the product development lifecycle and streamline collaboration.

3. Best for sprint planning: Jira

Jira makes sprint planning easier by putting the backlog at the center. It helps the team estimate stories, adjust scope, and prioritize issues in one location. Atlassian’s sprint tutorial can also help teams get up to speed quickly.

4. Best for sprint retrospective: Confluence whiteboards

With Confluence whiteboards, teams can brainstorm, visualize, and turn ideas into action in real time or asynchronously. With features like stamps, votes, and timers, teams can make collaborative decisions and then edit Jira issues and other pages without leaving the whiteboard. This makes Scrum ceremonies like a sprint retrospective easy. 

5. Best for prioritizing ideas and building roadmaps: Jira Product Discovery

Jira Product Discovery offers features for prioritizing ideas and building roadmaps. It allows teams to bring insights and ideas together, collaborate, and create a product roadmap everyone can support. 

6. Best for virtual meetings: Zoom

Zoom virtual meetings erase the distance between geographically dispersed team members. With Zoom’s extensive features, teams can host virtual meetings and collaborate in real-time. They can also record meetings and decisions for those who can't attend.

7. Best for real-time communication: Slack

Slack offers easy access and real-time targeted communication when just a few team members need to quickly share information or ask questions. Channels allow teams to create focused areas, such as C++ developers working on a specific product, to keep tasks moving forward without unnecessarily interrupting others. 

8. Best for team collaboration: Jira

Jira allows teams to manage projects across the company, giving members real-time project data. Create dependencies and build automations so you overlook nothing, especially when disparate groups are working on the same project.

9. Best for iteration planning: Trello

Trello’s easy-to-use, highly visual interface for project management supports small teams with iteration planning, automating repetitive tasks, and tracking sprints. It also integrates with commonly used tools such as Slack.

Use the best Scrum tool for your team’s next project

The best Scrum tools support sprint planning, progress tracking, backlog refinement, and continuous improvement. They also facilitate team collaboration and help teams rapidly address roadblocks.

Jira, Confluence, and Jira Product Discovery work together seamlessly to provide Scrum teams with end-to-end planning, ideation, collaboration, execution, and tracking. Jira Scrum boards provide a single source of truth for a project, from refining the backlog to completing the sprint and conducting the project retrospective. By organizing work around the sprint timeframe, Jira prevents over-commitment and helps teams deliver on time.  

Get started with Jira Scrum Boards today.

Scrum tools: Frequently asked questions

Are Scrum tools suitable for all types of projects?

Software projects typically use Scrum tools, but other project types can benefit from the focus on collaboration and customer-centric goals. Unless a project faces constantly changing requirements and goals (which Scrum tools address easily), other approaches, such as waterfall project management, may offer a better fit. 

What’s the difference between Agile and Scrum tools?

People often use Scrum and Agile interchangeably, and while they work well together, there is a clear difference. When considering Agile vs. Scrum, Agile is a project management philosophy based on principles and values that put people and their interactions above processes and tools. For example, vendor–client collaboration replaces contract negotiation in the Agile approach.

In contrast, Scrum involves a clearly defined set of activities to get the work done, such as backlog refinement, sprint planning, and sprint retrospectives.     

Agile teams adopt the Agile philosophy and use Scrum to achieve the work. However, teams can use Scrum without Agile.

What’s the difference between Kanban and Scrum tools?

Scrum and Kanban are both used by Agile development teams. However, there are a few differences to be aware of when considering Kanban vs. Scrum for project management. Both are project management methodologies, but Kanban relies on visual tasks to manage workflows. It uses real-time communication of capacity and full transparency of the work. Scrum, on the other hand, focuses on breaking down complex projects and delivering value to customers faster and more frequently. The smaller size of the project provides the same transparency teams find with Kanban.

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