Many Agile folks think of tools as a necessary evil. But they have a definite purpose and done well are essential.
Any Lean-Agile approach should start with getting an understanding of where the company is. Mapping the value streams of an organization is usually a good start. Identifying challenges in workflow and team structure is another. Only then should an adoption of a new workflow or company re-structuring take place. While it is often tempting to take solutions off the shelf it must be kept in mind that no one-size-fits all.
It is at this point, at the beginning of a tailored adoption, that tools can be used to reflect the workflow thought to be the best to be used. Here are three aspects.
- How data is decomposed from strategy to stories
- How the company is organized (such as SAFe with Agile Release Trains)
- Improving the value stream (the work through the organization)
A good tool will enable views of all of these aspects. Examples are tailoring the tracking of data to the size of the organization, letting each level and role see their responsibilities, making visible the workflow of the value stream and the work going through it. These are ways tools provide a basis for learning how to improve.