Jira vs the World


Arguably Jira is winning the domination game in the online Kanban/Scrum board space, but there is more than Jira out there. Examples include:

Heck even MS Project now has agile boards. What are members of the coalition using? What are the upsides and the downsides? What you use if you had a choice?


Atlassian (owns Jira) bought Trello… so that’s going to gradually just become the freemium smallscale version of Jira. https://techcrunch.com/2017/01/09/atlassian-acquires-trello/

I used to love and be quite active in the Version1 community and beta testing group… but that was years ago because my last 4 companies have forced me into the Atlassian ecosystem.

In my personal life (including my wife’s business)… Trello is the tool of choice.

Personally, my favorite is cards on a physical board… but that requires small colocated teams.


+1 to the physical boards. To me it is the same as getting a handwritten letter instead of an email. The level of intent and personalization is much higher, adding impact and empathy to the work.

If I have to worth with distributed teams, and board-buddies are not an option, I reach for Trello first then possibly Jira when working with the clients. I know @Paul_Elia is a big VersionOne fan as are some of the SAFe practitioners. For me it just seems too heavy and org-metric/management focused - but do keep an open mind to it as I may be wrong.

Eff Project.


We use Rally, and our vendor uses V1. Both have their pros and cons. V1 is a better UI and there’s stuff that’s prebuilt for PI specifics (for you SAFe heads), but I like Rally better as I have found myself able to do more with it. JIRA is bare bones and functional, but doesn’t really excite me. Sortof like a Honda Civic.

I use Trello for my personal kanban, love it.


I’m going to go with a big +1 on physical boards. Nothing beats the physical board, however most teams I’ve dealt with the last 5+ years are distributed so usually can’t use that as the only method as a result.

As for the tools I’m going to abstain on my opinion there as I work with one of the tool vendors mentioned so my opinion is biased at the moment. lol


I guess that depends on if you love it or hate it, eh? :smiley:


You’ll get no argument from me that a physical board is best when you are colocated. I feel the same about personal kanban boards. In fact I have a 4’ x 6’ magnetic white board in my office for my personal kanban board and I absolutely love it! I wrote a LinkedIn article about my personal kanban board a while ago. The board has changed even more since, and I have a few upgrade ideas yet to be implemented, but at its core the movable cards with pictures are the same.

I use the free Trello edition for a few personal matters where I feel that I need access to the board out of my home office, or for small projects between me and my wife, e.g. It’s better than a simple To Do list. I’ve also been a user of Microsoft Exchange for so many years that I have a technique with folders that can hold Messages and Tasks and simulate a personal kanban board, good for workflows that I expect to remain in the email realm and where having to make cards elsewhere would be waste.

When you get into large, cross-team situations for a given value stream where you are implementing some sort of scaling framework like SAFe® or when you have distributed teams, I think software is essential. I suppose in dual location situations, teams could do like people who play chess or Scrabble® remotely do and have dual physical boards and announce changes via some technique. I have seen large multi-team initiatives done with manual boards where everyone is colocated, too, but I have no personal experience of the pros and cons. I have to think that there is some sort of bookkeeping going on behind the scenes that gathers data and allows people who are in the value stream but who don’t typically get to the war room (gymnasium?) to have some sort of feedback, hopefully bidirectional feedback.

When it comes to selecting software for a situation, you must start with your goals and constraints and make an objective decision. All of these software solutions exist because they have enough market share to exist. They each have pros and cons. Your goals and constraints will eliminate a few candidates. As @ryan stated earlier, I do like VersionOne Lifecycle, and, I am also one of its harshest critics. I have pounded their employees with feedback, and I’m not always cheery about it. It still lacks default values due to architectural design decisions made in 2001, e.g. I have to hack my CSS style sheets in order to get card colors. WTF?!? I could go on. But I am using VersionOne Lifecycle typically in a large, cross team situation. No vendor has matched SAFe® Program Increment Planning needs near as well, and I like that they have an extension called Continuum that goes beyond “potentially shippable software” out into the realm of DevOps where I spend my time these days.

Rally isn’t Rally anymore, it is CA (as in Computer Associates) Agile Central. I’ve been in the software industry for over 30 years, and CA has existed with the same business model for a very long time. It was founded in 1976 as an offshoot from IBM when IBM had pressure to separate its hardware and software business. Today, as it has done since the 1980’s when I started my career, it buys software at a certain peak of its lifecycle in the marketplace and puts it into lights-on maintenance mode and/or it nudges the acquisition close to half a dozen or more of its other acquisitions and calls them an integrated solution for large enterprise problems. The phrase that I have heard and stated about CA has persisted for my entire career. I wonder if anyone else on this thread started in the 1980’s, heck maybe even 1970’s or earlier who has heard the same? Computer Associates is where all good software goes to die. Even if you are a fan of the now CA Agile Central and you think they are keeping up with feature development and refinement of the product based on feedback, the price is painful, and there are too many other alternatives.

Microsoft TFS has its following, but I don’t understand it beyond the team level. It started as a source code control system and coordinator for Microsoft Visual Studio although today most teams use Git which they now support. Until about 4 years ago even the team that was behind it wouldn’t use it to do their own work! CEO Nadella wisely put a stop to that and they have been making good progress ever since. Still, if you are practicing SAFe® or anything like it, TFS just doesn’t have the UI and visualizations to support what the portfolio, large solution, and program teams need. They know it and are catching up, but most of their energy still seems to be situated on convincing teams that code in Java or anything not .NET related that they are relevant for their CI/CD capabilities.

I’ll end with Jira. Jira has its roots in ticket systems. It then branched out into project management. It supports all kinds of things today with enough configuration, and, its roots in triple-constraint thinking show in every implementation that I have ever seen. I don’t like it because it so easily allows for ScrumFall, Wagile, pick your favorite Agile and Waterfall portmanteau. As with SAFe® and other agile scaling frameworks, with leadership inexperienced with agile making decisions on its implementation, it can be used to keep things essentially triple-constraint based, which when done completely misses the mark of the agile movement leading up to 2001 and persisting today in more “modern” forms. (Hat tip to JK.)


@Paul_Elia That’s an awesome post. Can we drop that as a blog item? That deserves it’s own space!

I’ve only used Jira for work so was interested. I started using Jira for home, but found I started too many projects. My partner had used Trello and Monday.com (formerly daPulse). DaPulse looks great, but is basically team todo lists. It isn’t bad, but I miss the Kanban style of interface.

Trello is trello. I use it for certain things that require tracking. I love it for retros and progress stuff. I’ll use it whenever I need lightweight and quick. It has been acquired by Atlassian, I hope they keep it running in the longer term, it would be a shame to lose the tool.

I work with a former Rally employee and have seen Version 1 at the edges, they look pretty amazing. Part of the reason I was interested in seeing what else was out there was the opportunity to find the gaps in my current usages.

I agree though Physical Boards are brilliant. Distributed teams though need some form of distributed system.

What do you think about a Hybrid model? Where a physical board is updated and the virtual board reflects. I have seen that work well with a team that was mostly colocated but worked part time away from the office.


@Paul_Elia def turn this into a blog post!


A couple of others, I found that interesting.

GitScrum: I’m not totally sold on the Gamification, but still very interested in the idea of GitScrum. I’m not sure if the gamification trivalizes things, but we can all use more fun at work. @Rodrigo_Sequeiros, please feel to chime in with any insights you have here. I’m still curious

Vivify Scrum looks beautiful from a design perspective, but I haven’t delved deeply enough to make a call. A quick signup and a play around showed the interface was pretty intuitive. I liked what I saw, but I’m not sure when I’ll ever get a chance to use it in the wild.

Links for both are in the Original Post


We use Jira. It’s not my favorite, but it gets the job done.


In the past I used physical boards and nothing beats moving a Post-It to Done!

I’ve used Jira for a few years now, and more recently as an Admin as well. I used CA Agile for about a year - what I really liked about it is the clear visual hierarchy from Epic -> Feature -> Story -> Task -> Defect and the ability to drill down from one level to the next. That aspect is far superior to Jira. I was using CA Agile in a SAFe environment and the reporting for multiple teams worked really well. That said, I do like Jira and have a reporting suite that I’ve built up using the REST API. As they say “if you can’t beat them, join them”


Gartner just came out with their latest report on ALMs. Their list for 2018:

  • AgileCraft (added in 2018) — an honorable mention in the 2017 Magic Quadrant; an addition this year
  • Atlassian Jira
  • Blueprint Storyteller (added in 2018) — an honorable mention in the 2017 Magic Quadrant; an addition this year
  • CA Technologies CA Agile Central (fka Rally)
  • CollabNet VersionOne Lifecycle — VersionOne merged with CollabNet in August 2017
  • IBM Rational Collaborative Lifecycle Management
  • Inflectra SpiraTeam
  • Microfocus ALM Octane and Project and Portfolio Management (PPM) — Micro Focus acquired the software business of Hewlett Packard Enterprise in a deal finalized in September 2017
  • Microsoft Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS)
  • Planview LeanKit
  • Targetprocess


Honorable Mentions (didn’t meet requirements for inclusion such as revenues or account sizes)

  • Axosoft
  • Digité
  • Favro
  • Fog Creek
  • Panaya
  • Pivotal
  • ProWareness
  • Scrumwise
  • ServiceNow
  • Siemens
  • ThoughtWorks


I want to find the people who use this tool and give them the Hare Psychopathy Checklist, see where they score. I’m convinced there’s a correlation.


Just ran across this one in the mix: https://scrumpy.io/features


I have used Rally, Assembla, Jira, Trello and Redmine with Agile Plugin, all of them are competent in managing the work of Agile teams.

I’d say nothing beats the visibility of a physical task board, the problem with virtual boards is that sometimes they tend to become “information refrigerators” rather than “radiators”.

However, that said, I feel Jira gets bashed more because of its zillion features and options to customize and the zealousness of people to use all of it. So after a while the focus shifts from Agility to features in Jira.


The choice paralysis is a real thing with Jira. Do they need to be more prescriptive for beginners?


Their newer versions have improved “wizards” for quick setup, but they still drag legacy settings forward if you are a long time user with several past upgrades. I get the sense that if you are a cloud JIRA user leveraging their latest releases from a clean slate, it’s starting to head in that direction.


I’ll throw another in the mix. Axosoft https://www.axosoft.com/. Their tagline is, “Like Jira only better”. I haven’t had time to explore yet, but I use GitKraken, which is a brilliant visual Git client. If they bring the same polish to Axosoft, it will be pretty awesome.