I’ve been looking for a free or inexpensive Scrum hosted tool for my micro development shop. I poked around some blog reviews and came across a recommendation for ScrumDesk by Torin on Mike Cohn’s userStories website.
ScrumDesk comes in a hosted offering, however, it’s for Windows only. This isn’t so great for us because we develop on Mac OS X, deploy server components to Ubuntu and distribute clients on Mac OS X and iPhone OS. Nonetheless, I decided to give it a shot using VMWare Fusion. I found the setup to be cumbersome. First you have to install the .NET Framework 3.5, ScrumDesk and configure a database connection to a Microsoft SQL Server.
Once I had everything setup, I started adding users in the administration screen. It doesn’t send emails automatically to new users, you have to remember to send the database connection info to them by clicking a button in the menu bar. Once they receive the message, they’ll have no idea what do if they haven’t previously been told to install the .NET Framework 3.5 and ScrumDesk because the email contains only the steps on how to load the attached file in the login screen.
After setting up a few users, I transcribed my user stories from sticky notes in the backlog view, which is a nice emulation of notes on a wall. However, after using it awhile, I found the application to be sluggish in my 768 MB VMWare image. There also was a temporary outage of service on the second day of use, due to a problem with their ISP.
After my experience, I decided against the product and exported my user stories. Too my surprise, you can only export in two formats: Open XML Paper Specification (.XPS), which requires a 3rd party viewer on Mac OS X or Microsoft Excel XML. Why not CSV?
At the end of the day the hosted version of ScrumDesk is nothing more than a Windows only client-server application. If you’re looking for cloud-based Scrum tool check out the offerings from Rally Software or VersionOne.