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Rally for the iPhone: Rally acquires Blue Hole's ScrumAway app

Agile Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) vendor Rally Software announced its acquisition of Rally for the iPhone from Blue Hole Software yesterday. Formerly selling for $15 under the application name of ScrumAway, the iPhone app is now free and rebranded as “Rally for the iPhone.”

In April of this year, Rally acquired AgileZen, taking advantage of emerging Kanban, and now this acquisition is extending Rally’s further into the mobile world.

I spoke with Todd Olson, product line manager from Rally, who said:

 “It’s part of meeting emerging demands from our customers to have more mobile access to Rally. The reality is many people simply take their smartphones to meetings. They don’t need to take their laptops to meetings because their phones are becoming as powerful as computers were three or four years ago.”

Asked about Rally Software becoming available on other smartphone platforms, Olson replied that there were no immediate plans, but more may be coming. This move, he said, was spurred by Blue Hole’s work on Rally’s open inversion APIs, and many other third parties now build plug-ins and connections to Rally. “We’re tracking the Android space carefully and evaluating various alternatives,” he said.

Being a person who likes to take advantage of free iPhone apps, I downloaded and installed the application. Installation was a cinch, but the first thing I needed to do was log in to an existing account. Well, Rally Community Edition is free for up to 10 users working on a single project, so I went ahead and went back to my desktop and signed up for that. Five minutes later, I was in the tool, setting up my profile, watching tutorials, and creating my first project.

I went back to my iPhone and, sure enough, there was my project, ready for updates. For a tool with a lot of features, I was impressed and amazed that this was all available for free.  For all those people who are looking to become more experienced with agile development, this seems like a great opportunity. The tool came with plenty of video tutorials aimed at helping the newbie learn agile, learn how to transition to agile and learn the Rally tool.

That being said, the reviews from the iPhone application are currently showing an average of three out of five stars. With only eight reviews, it can hardly be considered statistically relevant. From the small sample size of reviews available today, it seems there are users from both sides of the fence.  One satisfied user gives the app five stars and said: “Great for keeping up to date when out of the office – very easy to use – I like it!” Others give four stars, praising its ease of use when on the go. The two negative reviews were from users who are disappointed by the lack of functionality.  The worst review calls the app “utterly useless” and claims the views and functionality are very limited.

Olson disagrees, of course, and points to the app’s powerful features. Customers who have not yet provided reviews via the app store have told him they like Rally for iPhone’s instant access and visibility into status of iterations and releases, as well as management features for requirement,  backlog and even things like re-ranking. 

“We’re absolutely watching the reviews and talking to customers aggressively,” said Olson. “Rally has a long history through our customer portal and community code agile commons of soliciting feature requests from our customer community, having them help us rank those and delivering in a timely fashion against that backlog.”

I checked to see what other iPhone apps might be available for agile PMs and found Scrum2Go for $1.99 and Agile Project Management with Scrum for $5.99. Neither of these had reviews. There may be others, but my quick search didn’t find anything free that would be comparable to Rally for the iPhone.  ScrumAway is no longer available, so I could not find out what the app store reviews were from the product before it was acquired.

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