Agile - Mindset to Practice:

Tools and Techniques to Boost Productivity

Date: 28/10/2023

Written by: Majed Abdeen



In the fast-paced world of software development, agility is not just a buzzword but a way of life. Agility means different things to different organizations, and as such, the selection of the right tools and techniques becomes a critical decision. This article explores the dynamic realm of Agility, emphasizing the importance of tailored approaches, adaptive mindsets, and the concept of "low tech but high touch."

Tailoring Agility to Your Organization:

The journey to agility begins with recognizing that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Selecting the right tools and techniques must align with the unique DNA of your organization. Whether you are a startup, a large corporation, or anything in between, the path to agility is a bespoke one.

Embracing Context-Based Adaptation:

Agile teams should embrace their Way of Working, aligning it with the specific context of their organization. Context matters, and the adaptability of your team to respond to it can make all the difference. In this article, we'll delve into the strategies for context-based tailoring.

Beyond Tools & Techniques:

While tools and techniques are essential components of an agile framework, they are not the core of being Agile. True agility lies in cultivating an agile mindset within your teams. A mindset shift can lead to more effective practices.

The Beauty of Low-Tech, but High-Touch:

Agile teams often find themselves at the crossroads of technology. However, they prefer the concept of "low tech but high touch." This approach emphasizes human interaction and collaboration over the reliance on software applications and platforms. This supports the first Agile Value; “Individuals and interactions over processes and tools”. Keep reading for an enlightening journey through the landscape of Agile tools and techniques, where our destination is enhanced efficiency, productivity, and a more adaptive, resilient, and agile organization.

Choosing the right Agile tools and techniques

Here are some tips for choosing the right Agile tools and techniques:


The Secret to Boosting Adaptability and Continuous Improvement

Certainly, enhancing adaptability and continuous improvement is vital in Agile development and throughout an organization. Some of the most popular and effective ways to do so include:

Empowering Teams: Collaborative Tools and Techniques for Agile Success

Let me start with one of the Agile Principles:

Simplicity - the art of maximizing the amount of work not done - is essential.

Simplicity means keeping processes, tasks, and solutions as uncomplicated as possible. This leads to easier understanding, implementation, and maintenance.

This is also applicable to the tools and techniques related within the team's work environment, and these tools can be manual. For example:

Figure 1: Low-Tech T&Ts examples


Information Radiators – Don’t hide your Information in the fridge.

The practice of enhancing transparency and trust in a team through visualization is crucial in various Agile approaches.

Figure 2: Information Radiator image

Information Radiator is also called Informative Workspace, Big Visible Chart (BVC), Visual Controls. A visible Information Radiator can enhance team motivation. An agile practitioner should focus on creating information radiators so that teams have access to all of the data related to their work and can make decisions about how to keep their work on track on their own.

Example of information gathered from it:

It can contain the following:

Figure 3: Information Radiator Contents

Value Stream Mapping (VSM) – The key to unlocking greater Efficiency and Productivity

VSM is a lean management tool that visually depicts the flow of materials and information through a process, from raw material to finished product. It is used to identify waste and opportunities for improvement.

Figure 4: Visualizing Value Stream Mapping (VSM) (Created by Majed Abdeen)

Estimation Techniques

Affinity Estimating

The affinity diagram shows large numbers of ideas classified into groups for review and analysis.

Figure 5: Affinity Estimating Technique

The team members divide a whiteboard into groups (like S, M, L, buckets, or coffee cup sizes) or Fibonacci sequence and take turns sticking each item to estimate into a category.

Planning Poker

The team breaks down the user stories from the sprint backlog into tasks, does a very high-level design, and estimates the tasks (using a technique like Planning Poker). It is a collaborative game and gets the whole team involved. It is a technique for consensus-based, comparative estimating of User Stories.

Figure 6: Planning Poker Concept

Kanban Boards

Kanban boards are a visual tool for tracking work in progress. They are typically used in agile development, but they can be used in any situation where it is important to visualize the workflow.

Figure 7: Work-In-Progress (WIP) in Kanban Boards (Created by Majed Abdeen)

Kanban boards are typically divided into columns, each of which represents a stage in the workflow. For example, a Kanban board for software development might have columns for backlog, in progress, testing, and done.

Work items are represented by cards, which are moved from column to column as they progress through the workflow. This allows the team to see at a glance what work is in progress, where bottlenecks are occurring, and how much work is remaining.

High-Level Planning - Story Maps and Product Roadmap

Give the team a visual representation of the work that they are going to do and what success looks like.

Figure 8: Walking Skeleton Story Maps and Product Roadmap (Created by Majed Abdeen)

A walking skeleton story map is a type of user story map that focuses on the minimum set of features and functionality needed to deliver a viable product to customers. It is typically created during the early stages of product development, and it is used to help the team prioritize their work and focus on the most important features.

Prioritization Techniques

Agile Transformation involves understanding the reasons and objectives behind how teams select and prioritize tasks, rather than just focusing on the methods used to accomplish the tasks.

Value-Based / Customer-Valued Prioritization

Prioritizing Value is the process of prioritizing work items based on the value they deliver to the customer. This means that the most important work items are the ones that will have the biggest impact on the customer, in terms of solving their problems, improving their experience, or helping them achieve their goals.

The entire team, not only product owner determines the process to prioritize value in Agile development.

Balancing Risk and Value

Balancing the risk and value is a key challenge in product development. On the one hand, teams want to develop products that are valuable to customers and that will generate revenue for the company.

Figure 9: Balancing Risk and Value (Created by Majed Abdeen)

Start by prioritizing iteratively. Begin with the features that have the highest value-to-risk ratios, as shown in the image above. After completing each feature, reevaluate and reprioritize based on new information and changes in the project environment.

Common Prioritization Techniques

Remember, Agile prioritization is not set in stone; it's a dynamic process. Adapt as needed to ensure you're delivering the most value while managing risks effectively. Figure 10 shows the most common prioritization techniques.

Figure 10: Common Prioritization Techniques

Agile teams prioritize tasks that directly contribute to the project's goals, eliminating tasks that don't add value.

Retrospectives (Reflection Workshops) - Look back.

Retrospectives are a valuable practice in Agile project management, allowing teams to reflect on their work and continuously improve. The team answers 3 questions:

The retrospective meeting is process oriented. Retrospectives can be held at the end of a sprint, project, or even a year. They typically involve these steps: Set the stage, Gather data, Generate insights, Decide what to do, and Closing. Each step has various techniques can be used as shown below: 

Figure 11: Retrospectives
Figure 12:  The Retrospectives Processes 

Collaboration games

Agile collaboration games and activities are vital components of Agile approaches, fostering teamwork, creativity, and communication within development teams. Collaboration games and activities in the workplace can not only foster a positive and inclusive environment but also enhance employee engagement and productivity.

These interactive and engaging exercises are designed to break down silos, encourage cross-functional collaboration, and enhance problem-solving skills.

The following are some Agile Games to improve team performance and collaboration:

Figure 13: Agile Collaboration Games

Software Agile Tools

Agile development relies on various tools to enhance collaboration, communication, and project management.

Software agile tools are a set of tools and techniques that help development teams to follow agile approaches and frameworks, which emphasize flexibility, collaboration, and rapid feedback. They can be used to support all aspects of the agile development process, including Planning, Tracking, Collaboration, Testing, and Deployment.

Software Tools Benefits

Some of the benefits of using software agile tools:

If you are looking for a way to improve your team's software development process, consider using software agile tools.

Factors that can affect the choice.

The choice of software Agile tools for a project can be influenced by several key factors. Here are the factors that can affect the selection of Agile tools:

Common Agile Software Tools

Here are some common Agile tools:

Figure 14: Common Agile tools 

These tools can help teams to improve their productivity, efficiency, and quality. They can also help teams to reduce costs and deliver software to customers more quickly.

Continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) tools for DevOps

CI/CD tools are a set of tools for DevOps that automate the software development and delivery process. They help teams to build, test, and deploy code more frequently and reliably.

Figure 15: CI/CD Concept (Created by Majed Abdeen)

The objective of CI is to ensure that product features fit together into an integrated whole early and often during development to reduce both the high cost of late misalignment and the burden of testing.

Figure 16: CI/CD Tools 

And Some more

There are several online platforms that generate Agile templates. These platforms can help you and your team to create a variety of Agile artifacts, such as mind maps, user stories, sprint backlogs, business model canvases, personas, product roadmaps, etc.

These are some tools which can be used for working collaboratively with your team:

Figure 17: Tools for Templates and Estimation

Agile Data Analytics and Business Intelligence

Agile Data Analytics and Business Intelligence (DA&BI) is a data-driven approach to decision-making that enables organizations to gather, analyze, and visualize data to identify trends, patterns, and insights quickly and easily. This information can then be used to make informed decisions and improve business performance.

Organizations can tailor their Agile Data Analytics and Business Intelligence strategies by harnessing powerful tools like Power BI or Tableau.

Figure 18: Eya Agile Performance Dashboard 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) Tools

In the fast-paced world of project management, where deadlines are tight, and change is constant, Agile practitioners have always sought ways to improve efficiency and productivity. AI is rapidly transforming the way we work, and agile projects are no exception. AI tools can help agile teams to be more efficient, productive, and innovative. Agile practitioners are increasingly using AI to automate many of the tedious and time-consuming tasks involved in software development. This frees up their time, and that of other team members, to focus on more strategic and creative work.

AI Prompts

AI Prompts are tools that can help you generate creative and relevant content for your projects. They use natural language processing and deep learning to understand your input and produce text that matches your intent and style. AI Prompts such as ChatGPT, Google Bard, or Microsoft Bing Chat, and more can assist in creating:

The following are a list of some AI chat platforms you can use to write AI prompts:

You can use the following prompt example to generate user stories:

I want you to act as a Product Owner for an e-commerce platform. Generate Agile user stories in two tables that will help improve the user experience and increase sales on the website. Consider different aspects such as navigation, search functionality, product recommendations, and checkout process.

Use the following as a guideline:

For the user stories, divide the phrases into 3 columns using the phrases “As a [persona],” “I want [what],” and “so that” [desired outcome]. 

From PMI GenAI for Project Managers Tools





Show Me Diagrams

(a ChatGPT Plugin) 

Time and Cost Management


Control Management


(a ChatGPT Plugin) 

Risk Management

ChatGPT AI Assistant for Jira

Workflow Management and Automation

Dart (Plugin) 

Writing Assistant

Microsoft 365 Copilot 

Reading Assistant

AI/ChatGPT Plugin Link Reader