Every game-changing piece of software ever shipped has one thing in common: a highly effective approach to project management.
Software development projects can be highly complex. Imagine, for a second, an orchestra. There are many members of the orchestra, each contributing their own little bit of magic. When they play in unison, it’s a beauty to behold. But if they play their instruments out of sync, it’s a deafening din.
The conductor, aka the project manager, is the difference between a perfectly executed performance and a disappointment. Effective software development follows the same principles. Every software product has many moving parts, each owned by a different contributor. Each of these parts has to operate in perfect unison for the software to ship on time and on spec.
Much like conductors, project managers need the right tools to help them work. Where a conductor has sheet music, a software project manager has project management software. The quality of this project management software makes a major difference to the outcome of the project.
Managing software development projects can be a difficult task. Leaders have to ensure smooth communication and collaboration between different contributors and teams, ensure tasks are completed in a logical order, and align everyone around a shared vision of success. From a technical perspective, leaders need tools that help them track bugs, conduct quality assurance and testing, and generate product documentation and reports.
When the right approach meets the best project management software, success is well within reach. We will explore how our project management software, Backlog, stacks up against the competition and share a step-by-step walkthrough explaining how to best use the platform.
Introducing Backlog: project management software built for developers
Backlog isn’t just another project management software tool: it’s a project management platform built for developers, by developers. It’s a powerful yet intuitive platform used by over 18,000 teams worldwide and comes with a range of features that streamline processes and improve developer productivity:
- Cloud-based, secure architecture: closely manage your workspace with IP address controls and customizable access management policies.
- Real-time collaboration and commenting: help teammates work better together with code review, inline comments, and sophisticated task management tools.
- Project management charts: create Gantt charts, kanban boards, and burndown charts in moments, helping you seamlessly manage the progress of important tasks.
- Git and SVN integration: streamline code management with built-in repositories.
- Bug tracking and pull requests: standardize bug tracking with Backlog’s templates and manage pull requests, merges, and branches.
- Wiki and file sharing: create project wikis to store key documentation and make important resources available to all team members.
Together, these features, plus many others, offer developers a powerful selection of project management capabilities.
How to use Backlog for software development projects
Getting started with Backlog is straightforward. The platform provides an intuitive user experience that’s easy to navigate for all users – developers or not. It’s a much better approach than managing complex software projects using spreadsheets or email, fostering a structure that frees developers to spend more time working on their tasks and less time managing them.
Below, we walk you through setting up your first development project in Backlog. By following the steps below, you can create the framework for your next project in a matter of minutes. Better yet, it’s free to get started with Backlog. Activate your free Backlog account now and follow along with the steps below.
Step 1: Creating a new project
To set up a new project in Backlog, click the + icon on your Backlog dashboard, then select Add Project. Get started by giving your project a name and a project key.
Click the Advanced Settings dropdown to ensure all attributes and functionality are enabled, including sub-tasking.
Specify the status levels of the different tasks in your project. As one of the best project management software tools for developers, Backlog includes a range of status levels applicable to software projects, but you can also add our own using Backlog’s custom status feature. These status levels can be edited at any time.
Step 2: Adding issues to your project
Next, you’ll add the specific tasks your team needs to complete for the project to be successful. In Backlog, individual tasks are called Issues. To add an issue, click the Add Issue button.
The screen below will appear. To help your team be successful, include as much detail as possible. Backlog enables you to add the following information:
- Task description
- Start date and due date
You can also attach files, images, or links to other resources.
Depending on the complexity of your project, you may need to create parent and child tasks. These task hierarchies break larger, more complex tasks down into smaller chunks. They’re useful for tasks where different team members are responsible for each stage, such as wireframing, developing, and testing a new feature.
To add child issues to an existing issue, navigate to the issue, then select + Add child issue from the subtasking section of the page. You can then add all the relevant details for that child issue.
For a comprehensive overview of creating subtasks in Backlog, check out this guide: Master subtasking in Backlog for optimal task organization.
Step 3: Organizing your project with statuses, priorities, categories, and milestones
A project isn’t just some random collection of tasks: work must be done in the right order and usually on a predetermined timeline. Backlog makes it easy for project managers to track their team’s progress toward its goals.
Each issue has a color-coded status that team members update as they complete tasks. This status forms the basis for the Kanban boards that Backlog automatically generates for each project. Statuses can be customized in the Project Settings tab. Teams can also add priorities and categories to organize their tasks better.
Throughout any given project, there will likely be certain milestones that mark your progress toward the project’s completion. Milestones span the entirety of the project. Your first milestone may be completing the requirements-gathering process, and the last milestone could be deploying your software.
Completing a series of related tasks results in the milestone being accomplished. To establish milestones, navigate to the Project Settings tab, select Versions/Milestones, and click Add Version/Milestone. Milestones enable teams to track their progress and identify potential bottlenecks.
Step 4: Using Backlog’s visual tools to track progress
Software development projects can be highly complex, but project managers and business leaders must understand a project’s progress at a glance. In Backlog, you’ll find several visual tools that better help you track and explain project progress:
- Kanban boards: widely used in the software development world, these charts help users quickly understand the status of different tasks. In Backlog, kanban boards are automatically created for every project.
- Gantt charts: these charts show a project’s progress toward completion over time, displaying the timelines assigned to each discrete task. Provided you specify a start and due date for each task in a project, Gantt charts are automatically created in Backlog.
- Burndown charts: track a project’s progress compared to the project plan with burndown charts. Burndown charts help leaders identify bottlenecks slowing progress and get teams the support they need to succeed.
Additional project management tools for developers
The project management features outlined above are helpful in any project management scenario, from design to development. But where Backlog stands out from other tools is its range of project management tools built for developers, including:
- Managing code and versions with repositories: Backlog comes with built-in Git and SVN repositories for every project, meaning developers can manage their code right alongside their tasks.
- Using pull requests to review and merge code changes: teams can review code together in Backlog and have inline discussions before integrating new code into a project. Backlog’s difference viewer makes it easy to review changes to code before merging.
- Using issues to report and resolve bugs: by setting up Backlog integrations, software teams can automatically generate new issues from support emails, making tracking and fixing bugs easy.
- Track code commits: understand every teammate’s contribution to a project by monitoring a full list of commits in a project.
All told Backlog makes it easy for software development teams to manage their code right alongside their project work. It’s project management, version control, and bug tracking, all in one neatly packaged tool that’s easy to learn.
Best practices for using Backlog’s project management software effectively
Much like any software program, Backlog is a tool. To use it to manage your projects effectively, it’s vital to keep project management best practices in mind. These include:
- Clearly defining the scope and objectives of the project
- Breaking down the project into manageable tasks and subtasks
- Assigning clear roles and responsibilities to team members
- Setting deadlines and milestones for each task and subtask
- Frequent communication and collaboration with team members and stakeholders
- Tracking and monitoring progress and performance
- Reviewing and testing code quality and functionality
- Documenting and reporting project outcomes
To learn more about best practices for effective project management, check out the Project management hub in our Learning Center.
How Backlog compares to other project management software for developers
When it comes to choosing a project management tool, software developers have plenty of options. Selecting the best-suited platform is key to your team’s success. At Nulab, we firmly believe Backlog offers a combination of advanced project management features and an intuitive user interface at an affordable price.
However, we know Backlog isn’t the perfect match for every software development team. That’s why, in this comparison section, we won’t mislead you about how Backlog stacks up against other solutions. Instead, we’ll share quotes and ratings from independent sites, giving you the information you need to make an informed decision.
Backlog vs. ClickUp
Both Backlog and ClickUp are popular tools known for their customizability and versatility to adapt to various types of projects. The platforms share many features that are popular with software developers, such as issue tracking and visual tools, including Gantt charts and Kanban boards.
One area where the platforms differ is in their pricing. Whereas Backlog charges businesses across three tiers based on the size of their company, ClickUp charges on a per-user basis.
For a tech start-up with 50 developers working on dozens of projects simultaneously, Backlog would cost either $100/mo or $175/mo, whereas ClickUp would cost either $500/mo or $950/mo, depending on the feature you opt for.
Overall Capterra Ratings:
Reviews from software developers:
“I’ve tried so many different development/bug tracking systems, and they all either were way too complex or didn’t have any kind of configurability. When I tried Backlog, I was so thrilled. It fits perfectly with how we do things without forcing us to do way too much.
– John M, CTO
“ClickUp is extremely powerful and has many features you didn’t know you needed. Because there are so many features, ClickUp can take some getting used to.”
– Jaden B, Web Developer
Backlog vs. Trello
Trello is built on the foundation of kanban boards. Projects are organized into a series of smaller tasks, which are moved between different columns on the Kanban board as teams complete them.
Overall, Trello is more of a generalist project management software rather than a platform built for developers. This is most evident in Trello’s lack of code management features compared to Backlog.
From a pricing perspective, whereas Backlog has three clear tiers with fixed pricing based on user needs, Trello charges per user. Trello’s Premium plan costs $12.50/user/month. Using the same example of the tech startup with 50 developers, Backlog’s premium plan would cost $175/mo, whereas Trello would cost $625/mo. Both platforms have free tiers.
Overall Capterra Ratings:
Reviews from software developers:
“Backlog gets the job done. I love the use of sprint filters and comments.”
– Brian P, Software Developer
“Trello is a very useful tool to manage small and mid-size projects. It’s not for complex projects (like those with Gantt charts and long lists of dependent tasks).”
Anton K, Senior SAP ECM Consultant
Backlog vs. Jira
Jira is a powerful software development project management tool that supports a wide range of development tasks. There are pre-built templates for popular use cases like Scrum, kanban, and bug tracking, plus a wide variety of customization options.
Like many other project management tools, Jira is priced per user, offering a standard plan for $7.75/user/month and a premium plan for $15.25/user/month. For the tech startup with 50 developers, Jira would cost either $387.50/mo or $762.50, depending on the tier – over double the price of the most expensive Backlog plan.
Overall Capterra Ratings:
Reviews from software developers:
“Jira is an extremely capable project management platform, but it’s almost too flexible. It’s relatively easy to create workflows that aren’t intuitive.”
– Ryan R, Software Development Manager
“We selected Backlog after evaluating many other tools (like Jira), and Backlog became the clear winner. Why? Because this tool combines the best features of all other tools while still being neat and straightforward.”
–Ivan B, IT Consultant
Project management software for developers comparison table
|Pricing||Free plan < 10 users Paid plans: $35/month +||Free plan (1 user)Paid plans: $10/user/month +||Free planPaid plans: $5/user/month +||Free plan < 10 users Paid plans: $7.75/user/month +|
|Code Management Features||Code collaboration, GIT and SVN repositories, bug tracking||N/A||N/A||Code repositories, branches, pull requests, DevOps tools|
|Visual Project Management Tools||Kanban boards, Gantt charts, burndown charts||Kanban boards, Gantt charts, mind maps, dashboards||Kanban boards, timelines, calendars||Kanban boards, Gantt charts, scrum boards|
|Integrations||Communication, cloud storage, and software development apps, including Redmine and Jira Importers.||GitHub, GitLab, and popular communication and cloud storage apps. Public API for custom integrations.||21 developer tools, plus a range of communication and cloud storage services.||Integrates with apps listed in the Atlassian Marketplace, including Jenkins, GitHub, and others.|
Try Backlog’s project management software for developers today
Project management software is vital in ensuring development projects run smoothly. However, without the right tools, teams are ill-equipped to manage all the challenges of a complex software development project.
At Nulab, we built Backlog specifically for developers. Balancing a rich variety of developer-friendly features and sophisticated project management tools at an affordable price, Backlog offers tech teams all the tools they need to take a more organized approach to software development.