Telerik recently released a new version of TeamPulse, its agile project management platform. Telerik's goal with TeamPulse R2 is to help organizations refine their agile skills. Telerik hopes this will be an important distinction, and based on my experience with organizations adopting agile practices, I understand Telerik's approach. Agile can be overwhelming to some organizations, and technology can help refine these practices with a view across features and tools for analysis of agile best practices.
TeamPulse isn't a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) application as are many of the project management applications we cover on TechRepublic. Because of TeamPulse's integration with Microsoft Team Foundation Server (TFS), it requires that you install it on a Windows-based internal web server. According to Chris Eyhorn, EVP of ALM Tools at Telerik, the company is leaving open the possibility of a SaaS application without the TFS integration.
Inside TeamPulse R2
TeamPulse R2 can ebb and flow as the development organization adapts their development processes, including custom boards and list views for use by a project manager, developer, the team, or the entire organization.
In addition, TeamPulse R2 uses an HTML5-based user interface (UI), which opens up TeamPulse access across operating systems and mobile devices. The UI's customization options should rank high for organizations using Scrum, Kanban, or a related process. The new UI is yet another reminder that the days of the desktop project management application is waning.
Support for multiple projects
The capability to view multiple projects to account for the status and progress of all projects is a must-have these days and is one of the areas where SaaS-based project management platforms outperform desktop applications. Installing TeamPulse R2 on an internal web server gives users the same level of flexibility and power as a SaaS platform when it comes to views over single or multiple projects.
You can create projects based on TeamPulse R2 Scrum or Kanban templates. Figure A shows a project template for a Scrum project.
Starting a Scrum project in TeamPulse R2. (See an enlarged view of this image.)
TeamPulse R2's multiple project support can result in having a better handle on iteration planning because project managers and their team members have a more granular view over multiple projects from a single screen, and they can update work plans and track across multiple projects. It might take practice to switch between the Boards, Backlog, and Analytics dashboards as easily as if they were viewing one project.
Analytical tools for agile practices
TeamPulse R2's most attractive feature to me is the analytical tools that project managers and their teams can use to analyze team members across sprints, over time, and in increments, which include: Efficiencies, Productivity, Strengths, Weaknesses.
These tools (which are actually a rules-based system) can help teams get better at agile processes because, after all, agile is as only as good as the users' skill sets. TeamPulse R2 can give a development organization a level of auditing over agile practices that aren't highly intrusive (in comparison to having a project manager shadow developers). A team can run the analytics as part of a review meeting and learn what they aren't doing and could do better in terms of their agile development practices. For example, TeamPulse R2 can draw out if you aren't including iterations. Figure B shows an example of the Analysis screen.
Analyze agile best practices in TeamPulse R2. (See an enlarged view of this image.)
It's up to the team to take action on the analytics reporting. If I was implementing agile development practices around TeamPulse R2, I would make time in the review process to run the analytics and to take action on any deficiencies found in the reports.
"The application works for you, you don't work for the application" is a philosophy I've held for years as a contract technical writer. TeamPulse R2 is based on a similar philosophy, and Telerik markets it as an adaptable platform where users can customize fields, views, and other application elements to fit how their team works. This adaptability should play well with development organizations moving to agile practices that may need to fine-tune their processes while getting their teams up and running.
Project management platforms (agile or otherwise) shouldn't exist just in their own silo. As I noted earlier in this review, TeamPulse R2 integrates with TFS (though I wasn't able to test it). When a developer checks code into TFS, TeamPulse R2 updates automatically; this removes the usual manual step when a developer completes their code sprint.
TeamPulse R2 also integrates with Telerik Test Studio.
The fact that TeamPulse R2 requires a Windows-based server could be a strike against it with some development shops. The trial environment I set up felt slow and awkward when compared with the SaaS project management applications I've reviewed for TechRepublic; however, this might have more to do with my hardware than with TeamPulse R2.
TeamPulse R2's analytical tools to monitor Agile development practices are a differentiator worth noting. These tools should resonate with prospective customers who are just embarking on agile development or with an organization that is constantly evolving their development practices.
Visit the Telerik site for pricing information about TeamPulse R2.
More about agile project management on TechRepublic
Will Kelly is a technical and marketing communications writer based in the Washington, DC area. He has written about SMB technology, data center management, project management applications, mobile computing, Microsoft Office, and productivity applications for online and print technology publications. You can reach Will at firstname.lastname@example.org.