Screenful Review: Project Management Intelligence

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Over the years of supporting teams with their agility and tooling use (and hopefully both combined where possible!) it’s been a constant source of distress to hear of the hours wasted exporting data from tools like Jira, importing it into Excel, and jazzing things up a bit into some slides, usually for management to glance at. Even worse, by the time this data made its way through, it was often:

  • Subject to errors from processing
  • Already out of date

…at the same time, even for development team members, lots of the reporting built in to tools like Jira just isn’t visually compelling or consumable. Luckily for us, this has created a handy market for exciting innovators like Screenful!

Screenful integrates with one or more delivery tools including (for now – their roadmap is quite frighteningly rapid) Jira, Trello, GitHub, Pivotal Tracker, Asana, and GitLab… and in many cases fills gaps that can bump up functionality in these tools significantly (need Epics or Sprints in Trello? Screenful can fix that for you ? ).

Screenful Sprint Reporting

I’ve often been asked by clients and colleagues for a core set of recommended agile metrics as a starter for new teams (mostly Scrum), and whilst the answer is of course the perennial ‘it depends’, Screenful comes pretty close to offering an exceedingly good basic set to get started with. My two particular favourites to highlight hit 2 key areas – timing and forecasting. 

The Time Machine (Reporting Retros)

Possibly the most revealing, and often most uncomfortable, of lenses to help a team understand their agility is by looking at their cycle time. In many tools, creating a meaningful view of this takes a good deal of data munging and you end up with something that takes quite a lot of narrative – in Screenful you get it within about 30 seconds of install. The answer might not be comforting, but it is important:

Screenful lead time reporting

Up, up, and away!

My second favourite capability to empower teams with is a data-fed view of where they’re going. A versatile and configurable burnup chart is incredibly useful, particularly when making tough decisions about priorities, but can be a pain to maintain and tweak (“What happens if we focussed purely on X?”). Here again, Screenful provides a compelling and easy to understand format which can save hours of slideware production:

Screenful work remaining reporting

Yer a Wizard… admin

Powerful tools can often feel intimidating to setup. Screenful wins here also. Thanks to a slick UI setup wizard, the core capabilities are a breeze to setup. I often recall after one demo where a team had managed to setup their trial before my colleague had returned to his desk. As always there’s more tweaking to get things perfect, but getting a reassuringly rich initial setup is almost instant, which really helps alleviate initial fear of ‘another new tool’.

Tip: As with lots of tools, (if you’re using Screenful via API rather than as a plugin) it’s worth setting up a service account to use for accessing your instance. This is better for various security reasons (not least that you can give it least-privileged and read-only access) but also more convenient to cope with staff transitions. 

No regrets

Screenful is easy to check out with a free trial, and configuration of a quick proof of concept takes single digital minutes – vastly quicker than most other tools. I’ve encouraged huge numbers of teams to give it a go, and even if it’s not right for them in the end, thinking about the core metrics and views it provides helps them consider how and what data they visualise about their work in future.

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