Project management tools based on agile methodologies have become the norm in software development. This has led to many different solutions being released into the market, often making it hard to decide which tool is right for your team. Jira and Rally are two popular options that share many similarities but differ when it comes to flexibility and their specific uses.

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What is Jira?

Jira is a mature project management tool that started out years ago as a basic bug tracking solution. It has since evolved into a fully featured project management package incorporating all agile methodologies.

Much of Jira’s strength and popularity comes from its flexibility and the ability to adjust workflows on the fly. This, along with the thousands of integrations available, helps to make Jira adaptable to almost any environment.

What is Rally?

Similar to Jira, Rally is a project management solution; however, it forgoes the flexibility of Jira to instead focus on a specific type of software development workflow. As such, Rally provides the ability to see how teams are being allocated and whether resources are being fully utilized, with several tools specifically built for this task.

For those fully adopting the agile methodology, Rally’s dedicated features and workflow along those lines will make it a good fit.

Rally vs. Jira: Feature comparison

These two project management tools share many features, but users will have a different experience with each one when it comes to specifics. Below we’ll take a look at some of the most important differences between those features.

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Cloud and on-premises optionsNoYes
Scrum and kanban supportYesYes
Thousands of plug-ins for integrationsNoYes
Customizable organizational levelsYesNo
Built-in resource managementYesNo

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Agile reporting

Both Rally and Jira offer agile reporting features, but Jira is more advanced in this regard. The tools within Rally for reporting are somewhat basic, with few filters and other options. Often, scrum masters will need to export this data to another program such as Excel to further clean it up.

Jira, on the other hand, offers a more streamlined and feature-rich approach to reporting, with filters and other tools needed to customize reports for maximum usability. It also has a robust advanced search feature to further help with reporting, something Rally does not offer.


Both Rally and Jira allow for the dashboard to be customized based on specific criteria relevant to the work your teams are involved in.

For Jira, this is known as their gadget system, where tile-type gadgets can be dragged and dropped right from the dashboard overview of any project. This allows for certain changes to easily be made on the fly, independent of other aspects, and is one of the key flexibility strengths when it comes to Jira.

Comparatively, Rally offers an app-based customization feature, which also provides a wizard to help you install the apps most common for someone with your role. For example, if you tell the wizard you’re a scrum master, it will pre-load the apps most common for that role. Moreover, Rally offers a second layer to this, known as custom pages, which can include apps only used for a short term or for a specific initiative or project and then removed. But it does require diving into another layer.

Resource management

Jira does not come with high-level resource management tools built in, and instead, users will need to go to their repository of free plug-ins to look for a solution, which can be hit or miss.

Rally takes the lead in this regard with their built-in tools for agile capacity planning, which allows for a quick view of what resources are being fully utilized and which have the ability to take on more items. If capacity planning is important to your team’s workflow, then Rally excels in this area with their built-in features.

Choosing between Rally and Jira

These are two closely matched project management tools, with neither truly besting the other from an overall standpoint. The choice will really come down to a few key features, such as resource management or reporting.

Another key distinction is the flexibility that Jira has over Rally. In fact, Jira has become so flexible, it is often used to manage other business projects outside of software development. But of course, with that flexibility, it makes it more of a jack-of-all trades, which causes some areas to be lacking.

Rally on the other hand, is for those fully immersed in the agile methodologies and want a solution that perfectly lines up with those strategies without a lot of extra features that fall outside of that scope.

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Subscribe to Project Management Insider for best practices, reviews and resources. From project scheduling software to project planning apps, stay up to date with the latest in project management tools. Delivered Wednesdays