SpiraPlan is a project management tool created by Inflectra Corporation. As said by the company, SpiraPlan was created to manage agile projects using, XP, Scrum, DSDM, etc. SpiraPlan is a web application and Inflectra provides a on-line demo, so you can try the tool before choosing to use it for real.


First Steps

The first thing you notice on SpiraPlan is the tab bar, the features are grouped on tabs that give access to maintain various objects, requirements, tasks, releases, etc. Because SpiraPlan intents to be a generic agile tool it didn’t use the Scrum terminology, so don’t expect to see “Story” or “Sprint” terms, “Requirement” and “Iteration” was the chosen ones. That’s not a real problem, thinking in a more generic agile view,that was no so bad choices.

The available Tabs are: My Page, Project Home, Planning, Testing, Tracking and Reporting. My Page is a little dashboard with objects (Projects, Incidents, Tasks) associated with the logged user. Project Home is a big dashboard that show every project information and depending how big your project is, it can become an overwhelming and confusing amount of grids. It´s hard to look on that screen completely populated with data and not be afraid to start using the tool. Let’s talk a little more about the remaining tabs.

Planning

The Planning Tab is where most of the daily work will be done in SpiraPlan. The Requirements option is the closer that you can get from Product Backlog. A big grid with tons of columns and multi-level requirements, luckily you can hide and show the columns you like, but this operation is slow and annoying. A big problem with the Requirement grid is the impossibility to sort it by any column, that means you can not have a view of a prioritized backlog anywhere in the tool. The requirements have a importance property alowing a scale of 1 to 4, begin 1 for Critical and 4 for Low and the best you can do is filter the grid to see only requirements with a specific importance. Estimating requirements – you can define how may hours and MINUTES will take to develop the requirement, this shows a lot about the way Inflectra thinks about Agile projects. Creating tasks almost the same as creating requirements, and if you have lots of tasks it will take a very long time to put it all in the tool and again task estimates are made in hours and minutes.


Interations and release planning are a bit confusing too. You can have Releases with child Releases with Iterations, something no quite useful and when you see what is proposed for a release, you get a big grid with tasks, not requirement but tasks, it turns the release planning is some sort of task tracking. So the whole idea of thinking about a project from a strategic point of view is not supported.

Working on a Sprint

There’s not a particular feature to suport the daily scrum or otherh daily activities, there’s no taskboard. To update the tasks status you have edit it one-by-one, and update the status and dates too. A real nigthmare even with have a normal amount of tasks. The tracking tab is just another grid showing tasks or incidents.

Conclusion

SpiraPlan has big flaws, so big that it will keep a lot of teams from use it. I ask myself if there is a single Scrum team that will enjoy use it.  The tool is just a collection of porly designed grids and the ideas behind it are so far away from the agile concepts that’s hard to look at it as an Agile Tool. SpiraPlan is very close to Ghant-Chart kind of tools. In the reviewers point of view it can’t be used properly for a real agile project.

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Avatar of Boris Gloger
„Mut“ ist jener Wert von Scrum, mit dem sich Boris Gloger am stärksten identifiziert. Er hat in seinem eigenen Leben keine Angst vor radikalen Entscheidungen und vor dem Glauben an eine Idee. Für kein Geld der Welt würde er sich Regeln unterwerfen, die keinen Sinn machen. Er glaubt an Scrum, weil es nicht nur bessere Produkte, sondern auch eine bessere und menschlichere Arbeitswelt schaffen kann.
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  • http://www.scrumedge.com Scrum Tool

    I would like to see a review for ScrumEdge. I think it’s a really cool scrum tool

  • http://www.inflectra.com Steve Smithe

    Hi Boris

    Since this review was published we have made major changes to SpiraPlan, culminating in our v3.0 release. If you have a chance take a look at the new version. Specifically it allows you to manage requirements directly against iterations and not just with Tasks. Also we have integration with Visual Studio and Eclipse Mylyn so teams can log their status during development as well as during stand-up meetings.