October 26, 2011

Pivotal Tracker – Agile Project Management

Pivotal Tracker is a project management tool that bills itself as a sleeker, more agile alternative to the other collaboration applications currently on the market. Ideally suited for large-scale organizations and small, local businesses, Pivotal Tracker offers straightforward workflow tools, real-time collaboration, and full integration with all the most popular business applications.

Efficiency and focus are key for teams that hope to get important tasks finished on time, which is why Pivotal Tracker is so important. Although Pivotal Tracker uses some unique terms to describe projects, tasks, and schedules – generally referring to them as backlogs, stories, and iterations – the site itself functions similarly to other project management applications. When you sign up for an account with Pivotal Tracker, you’ll be prompted to create a new project and add stories. Each story has an estimated difficulty level, which is how Pivotal Tracker predicts how long your project will take to finish. Stories can be organized by priority level in the backlog, with the most pressing story or task appearing at the top of the list. The web-app uses special technology to predict how much a team will accomplish in a day, and then dynamically pulls that many stories from the backlog and places them in the “Current” panel – which is where employees should go to see what tasks they need to complete.

Although Pivotal Tracker is a tool that can be used by professionals in many industries, it offers a number of features that developers will find especially useful. One example: The review and acceptance buttons, which professionals can use to note when a new feature or mockup has been sent out for review and when it has been accepted or rejected by the client.

Practical Uses:

  • Keep organized when managing a project with many moving parts
  • Note when mockups were sent out for a client to review
  • Let employees know what tasks they should be accomplishing each day
  • Share files and documents with your coworkers through the app

Insider Tips:

  • Stories can be rearranged by dragging and dropping them into order
  • Users can find individual stories by using the keyword text search
  • Pivotal Tracker keeps users up to date on the progress their companies are making with updates via email, Twitter, or Campfire
  • Stories can be labeled for easy sorting later

What we liked:

  • Pivotal Tracker helps people visualize the progress they’re making toward a goal
  • Colleagues can comment on each other’s stories
  • Mockup files can be attached directly to stories in the system
  • Anticipated completion dates for milestones and projects are calculated automatically

What we didn’t like:

  • Pivotal Tracker uses different terminology than most other project manage web-apps, which can make it difficult to get used to the system at first


Company Info:

  • Launched: 2008
  • Privately Held
  • Headquarters: San Francisco, California
  • Founded by: Rob Mee and Sherry Erskine
  • Web site:


  • Free for public projects, individuals, non-profits, and academic institutions
  • Startup plans are $7/month and $18/month
  • Pro plans are $50/month, $100/month, and $175/month

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