I’ve been asked this question many times. The answer is simple, and maybe a little bit disappointing. There is no such thing as the best project management tool.
There are heaps of good tools available (Jira, Basecamp, Trello, Project Place,…) but you can’t put all your hopes into one tool for resolving problems within your team or organisation.
To cite the Agile Manifesto:
(Value) individuals and interactions over processes and tools
When you think the solution lies in a new project management tool, think again. This will probably not bring solace.
Let the team decide
You get the best results when you don’t force a specific tool in your organisation. If you want to monitor general goals, that are important for everyone in the company, you can use a single tool and ask everyone to use it for reporting those general goals.
But on a team level, let teams decide which tools to use. If they prefer to use paper post-ITs and a wall with a kanban board, let them do so. Give teams the power and the responsibility to choose their own tools. As long as reporting and monitoring that has an importance for the whole organisation is managed in the overall tool.
Bug tracking with Lego
A fascinating example of non conventional tools was pointed out to me by Jürgen. It consists of using Lego bricks for bug tracking.
The general idea is that bug trackers aren’t really transparent. They don’t make bugs really visible. Instead, a physical lego board is used to visualize bugs. Every bug gets his own tiny Lego structure. The larger the structure, the bigger the bug. The more upfront, the higher its priority.
Secondly, a classic bug tool has no constraints. So bugs tend to build up in endless lists. The Lego board has physical constraints. So when it’s full, bugs have to be removed, to place new bugs on the board.
Plus, it makes resolving bugs a lot more fun.
To read more about it, check out this slidedeck from Takeshi Kakeda on Tangible bug tracking with Lego bricks.
This is a rather extreme example, but it illustrates perfectly that tools are worth thinking about before forcing them in your organization.
To be clear. This is not a plea against tools in any way. I’m a big fan of using good tools in a good way. But it shouldn’t become a dogma. If there are things that improve interactions between people, it doesn’t matter which tool it is. As long as the focus is on interaction and efficiency.