Microsoft CRM Agile Management Tools Comparison
Determining the preferred agile management tool most often depends upon the types of users and the scope of the end to end implementation process. Jira or Rally are generally preferred by non-technical users such as product owners, business analysts and subject matter experts (SMEs). These tools require less training, are easier to use and deliver a more rewarding user experience.
However, these are not the tools developers spend most of their time in so they create a divide between the people that create the user stories and the people that develop and deploy user stories. Microsoft DevOps (previously known as Team Foundation Server (TFS) or Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS)) provide comparable functionality for agile event and artifact management (i.e., user story design, product backlogs, etc.) however, deliver a less favorable user experience. Their benefit is that agile artifacts created in DevOps can flow from the agile tracking tool to the source code repository and through continuous deployment in a single application. This accelerates sprint velocity, automates more comprehensive application lifecycle management (ALM) and allows agile teams to more easily adopt an end to end Microsoft DevOps toolchain.
Best of breed tools such as JIRA and Rally manage agile frameworks particularly well, but in a Microsoft CRM implementation they do not support a holistic CRM DevOps framework or provide a single solution that extends to the development team and environment. Microsoft DevOps is designed to be used with the Visual Studio development environment. It manages a broader array of Microsoft CRM software implementation lifecycle tasks common in Dynamics 365 CE deployments, from agile backlogs to user story tracking, to version control, to test automation, continuous integration, continuous deployment, and more in a single integrated development environment (IDE).
Below are some agile tool advantages that I've experienced over several Dynamics 365 implementations.
Jira & Rally Advantages
Microsoft DevOps Advantages
In the above comparison, it's not that Jira and Rally don’t offer comparable capabilities to DevOps, it's that the capabilities are often separated and siloed between non-technical and technical staff and require additional third party products. That separation fragments the complete implementation process, and more so, severely challenges a DevOps continuous delivery process.
DevOps can automate agile management, source control, continuous integration and continuous delivery. This removes a debarkation point between non-technical and technical resources and better facilitates agile team members such as QA staff and Scrum Masters who tend to straddle both sides of that dividing line.
Integration among best of breed agile tools and the Microsoft IDE is available, but generally undesirable. Using two tools with different user interfaces and navigation increases user learning curves and decreases the user experience. For most agile teams, using one end to end tool will deliver the greatest efficiency at the lowest cost.
This agile tool comparison is limited to Microsoft Dynamics 365 software deployments. Because Microsoft CRM software may be modified and extended using Visual Studio, further using DevOps provides significant productivity synergies. This agile tools comparison would be different for CRM systems not using Visual Studio for CRM software customization.