6 Things to Consider When Integrating Team Tools with an Enterprise Agile Planning Platform

Posted by Steve Elliott on Feb 12, 2019 12:45:00 PM

Software development teams and their tools have a relationship similar to that of drivers and their race cars: when they find the one they like, they stick with it. Sure, they might add new components or upgrade old ones that have aged out. They might even try out a new model, trading in the older model to get all the latest chassis changes, as well as the new bells and whistles. But at the end of the day, they stay faithful to the strengths of the automotive design team that always seems to know what they want in a car, and keeps delighting them with their latest innovations. 

How many of you have lived through this scenario in your life?

  • New Enterprise Agile Planning platform is selected by managers [i.e., not the team]
  • Team is forced to forsake beloved, carefully configured legacy tool and adopt new tool
  • Data from beloved former tool is painfully, manually imported (or not at all) by a combination of impatient employees and spreadsheet-happy consultants.
  • Everyone gives up when this doesn’t work out and figures out their own disjointed systems with incomplete data until another tool is selected…
  • And it starts again; a new tool is discovered! Lather, rinse, repeat.

A development team that’s found a team tool that works for them and can also deliver workflows that meet their needs and those of the rest of the organization is worth its weight in gold. Between meeting the customer needs, as defined by the portfolio, and ensuring that their product is delivered successfully, development teams have their hands full. They don’t need to spend their time worrying about how to get work done, they just need to get it done. So, once they’ve found and configured a solution that is efficient and familiar, there is little incentive to change – from any side. This is why integration is becoming a prevalent theme when selecting an Enterprise Agile Planning (EAP) platform – so that teams can be robustly connected at the right level to programs and portfolios.

A statistic that might not surprise you is that 80% of AgileCraft users integrate an existing team tool with their AgileCraft platform installation. And while we have a great team tool as a native part of our platform, we know that separating the driver from the favorite race car is not the kind of disruption that any team needs. Given this, we’ve made learning about our customers’ team tool integration needs a priority. With thousands of users, we have plenty of hands-on experience in this realm. So, if you’re out there trying to figure out just what kind of integration scenario is best for you, we have some very informed advice to contribute in the form of 6 Things to Consider When Integrating Team Tools with an Enterprise Agile Planning Platform.

1 – Easy intuitive setup with simple UI: Ensure your integration provider is reputable, with hundreds of customer installations of all shapes and sizes. Ideally, they’d have some kind of custom installer or wizard to assist in setup to make every integration a snap.

2 – Specialized data handling: Look for specialized features that prepare your data prior to import into your EAP solution – modern solutions incorporate light AI to ensure more accurate and complete data than when you started, even filling in the gaps where data is missing.

3 – Single vendor, native support: A natively-developed team tool connector typically will deliver functionality that deeply integrates with the EAP solution and will be more vigorously supported by an internal support team.

4 – Flexibility: A strong integration should offer options beyond simple field mapping, and allow you to customize connectors to support your processes. 

5 – Cost effective: An integration connector shouldn’t cost more than your license package. These should be competitively priced, and in cases, be included as part of your total costs.

6 – Market-proven: Integrations should be proven to work at scale, and perform robustly in the long term. You should be able to get references from enterprise customers that have used the integration at scale for at least a year or more.                                                                          

Keeping lean teams humming and operating at maximum efficiency and happiness is truly an art form. While tools are only part of this equation, it gives teams a solid sense of alignment, transparency, and visibility when they have ownership over their tooling systems. Teams are more inclined to use the tools they like, so this can also contribute to the consistency, accuracy, and integrity of the data that is being used at the team, program, product, and portfolio levels. A solid integration strategy can enable this win/win situation!

I hope these tips help you make a more informed decision when deciding how to approach integrating your team tool with your EAP platform. To check out the AgileCraft team tool connector solution, visit our website. And if you ever need someone to test out your race car, let me know!

Topics: Digital transformation, lean agile, enterprise agile, agile at scale, integration, team tools, EAP, connectors