Rally and Jira are both project management platforms that are structured around Agile Project Management techniques.
To understand which application wins in a battle that pits Rally vs Jira, you first should understand what Agile Project Management entails and then how software might be useful to support this process.
Only then can you hope to judge which is best for your company and your individual needs.
What Is Agile?
Let’s consider “normal” project management: we would say it involved an overall goal and an overall deadline and these are set at the start of the project and aimed for throughout. You throw all in and go for it until you are done.
Agile management instead works in sprints – small iterative periods that focus on smaller goals that will eventually hit the bigger goal. The aim is to deliver a version of the product quickly and then improve upon it through various reflections and improvements.
It was initially devised as a project management tool in software but has evolved across business sectors.
Here are some terms that you will hear in Agile Project Management training that will help you understand the philosophy:
This is the person who sets the scope of the project and is unlikely to be involved in the production itself. This product owner may be the client or it may be an executive.
The point is that at certain points they will reflect and refine the scope as the production is in process.
This is the person that guides and mentors the team and does all they can to remove impediments to success. They are not a team leader, instead, they are a team facilitator.
There will be people with specialities within a small team but each member of the team is expected to coordinate across specialities to complete goals.
A period of completing smaller actions, usually within a day, which is then reflected on and adapted before the next sprint. A sprint will have its own backlog, planning, and review.
A short meeting, usually at the beginning of the day, when a project team meets and share progress, reflect and set goals for the sprint that day.
A collection of tasks that the sprint team will work on at some point in the future, as prioritized by the Product Owner.
The breakdown of the product vision into achievable goals – this is the high-level plan that spans the whole project or multiple projects.
A fixed period when a sprint is taking place – which has defined goals to be achieved.
A user story is the needs of the end user which is expressed briefly and then broken down into lots of tasks or stories – and allocated points. These are then represented on a task-board or storyboard, where notes represent the tasks/ stories that need to be complete.
What Would Be Helpful in Agile Project Management Software?
If we take this basic overview of Agile Project Management, we can begin to see what might be useful in a software that is targeted to support such a process. There needs to be:
- an ethos of collaboration, where cross-specialist teams can support each other to the sprint goals and the overall goal of the project
- there needs to be a high-level view of the project, to represent the roadmap and product vision
- there needs to a board where the user story can be broken down into tasks or stories and moved along the workflow once complete
- there needs to be a place where review and testing of sprint outcomes can take place
- there needs to be a strong focus on short deadline times that can be easily tracked
- there needs to be permission-level access, as the product owner and the scrum master will need admin level access to shape the backlog
Rally (CA Agile Central)
Rally was designed with the same philosophy as Agile and has now been acquired by CA Agile and has been renamed CA Agile Central. It is structured around the idea that all tasks must be prioritized and done according to an overarching plan adopted by a company’s management.
This means that Rally is not just helpful with Agile, it has been designed to facilitate Agile techniques, specifically for software development.
What does this mean? Well, it allows you to set up a project and portfolio hierarchy. This means you can set the overall roadmap and then delve in to see what teams are doing and how this aligns with your business strategy.
There are release tracking and metrics, which give a comprehensive report on progress, dependencies, alignment and overall progress to the plan. This helps teams, scrum master, and product owner to reflect effectively.
There is team board, which give delivery teams and leaders a shared view of the project and how it is progressing. This means that everyone knows if there is a need to improve quality or speed up delivery.
The platform is split into modules or products aimed at software developers – these are called: Plan, Build, Test, Release, Operate, Secure. It is in the Plan product where you receive the CA Flow deck.
This is where teams can communicate, with access to the context and the plan. Then, there is the CA continuous delivery director, which is a Kanban system representing what needs to be done and by whom.
This organizes development into a pipeline from planning through orchestration to analytics and therefore helps to eliminate the need for spreadsheets.
Rally has a community edition, which is free for up to 10 users. The enterprise edition is $35 per month per user and the unlimited edition is $49 per user per month.
Jira is a project management software that has been designed specifically for software development.
However, even though this was designed with developers and Agile project management in mind, it is versatile enough to be applied in other contexts.
Jira is a central database into which all projects are logged. These projects then go through a number of workflows or processes.
Progression through the workflow is dictated by rules of transition. The planning tool allows for a breaking down of the goal into ranked tasks, which are then broken down even further.
This backlog view is then available for all to see and looks essentially like a prioritized to-do list. This gives team members all the information they need to accurately score sprints, both in terms of time and cost.
Sprints are managed through a Scrum or Kanban system, which shows what everyone is expected to do, is doing, needs review or have been done. Done is only achieved in software development is when the code is released to the customer.
The health of releases is therefore monitored on a progress board – which allows people who release early and often to view how well the product is doing and helping to feed user experience back into the development process.
The reflection is supported by a series of reports that provide real-time data to the team.
There is a time tracking tool called Hub staff, which allows you to judge if time is being used effectively. It also includes HipChat, which a chat app that allows communication between team members.
There are lots of integrations, which means data migration is easy – there is the option to integrate to Google Sheets, for instance.
For small teams, Jira costs $10 per user per month up to 10 users. For up to 15 users you are looking at a huge leap to $75 per month per user and then there is a sliding scale up to 2000 users.
Rally Vs Jira
Both Rally and Jira have been accused of being pretty intimidating on the first view.
Rally more than Jira presumes a thorough appreciation of the Agile Methodology, and without this, the platform is not that intuitive. Jira tries to be more universal in its appeal and therefore comes out as being a little more user-friendly.
Both platforms are aimed specifically at software developers – with the idea of a plan, build, release, reflect, improve built into the modules or features offered.
The planned product offered by Rally could be used as a simple to-do list allocation of tasks and then a Kanban system overview of the product development, as could Jira. Both have chat tools and both have reporting to help with reflections.
Realistically, Jira more than Rally can be applied outside software development. There is a universality in the way the backlog is created and then a one-click move to a Kanban chart for the visual overview of development.
This speaks of being part of an Agile project but could be used in other methodologies too. For this reason, in a battle of Jira vs Rally (CA Agile Central), Jira is the better tool for those starting out.
However, if you are fully immersed in Agile and are a software development company, then Rally is specifically designed with you in mind and is likely to serve your purposes much more.
And, let’s face it, if you are willing to learn and persevere with Rally, you would be getting a much cheaper deal!
If Jira vs Rally didn’t sound convincing enough, visit our Reviews page for more platforms.