We love GitHub. We love what it does for product leaders and development teams. We love that it’s become the place “where the world builds software.” We understand why some teams feel GitHub Projects is the natural place for project management, but we also know that sometimes teams need more — more collaboration, more automation, and more reporting — to get their sprints sprinting faster. That’s why we built ZenHub.
We are often asked what's the difference between ZenHub and GitHub Projects (and it’s a great question). We created ZenHub to seamlessly bridge the gap between the people facilitating the work and the people doing the work.
In this post, we answer how ZenHub’s various features work together to give everyone—from developers to product owners to business stakeholders—a complete view of project progress and more.
What is ZenHub?
ZenHub is the only purpose-built agile project management solution built directly into GitHub for GitHub users. Its simple browser extension or web app allows teams to add powerful tracking, planning and reporting features to their GitHub instance, so they can make their agile development processes even more agile and maximize team efficiency. With ZenHub, project leads, Scrum Masters, and business stakeholders can quickly see when a project is on track and when there’s a risk of falling behind.
ZenHub supports agile development & project management through:
- Single and Multi-Repository Support
- Multi-Organization Support
- Automated Issue Movement
- Set Default Pipeline for PRs
- Estimates & Planning Poker
- Velocity Tracking
- Burndown Charts
- Board Filters
- Automated Workflows
- And more!
For comparison, let’s take a look at GitHub Projects next.
What is GitHub Projects?
GitHub Projects is one feature in the larger GitHub suite that allows product managers and developers to coordinate, track, and update their work. With GitHub Projects, users can organize work by project status, add tasks, share their work, and see activity on a project.
Set the standard for your next sprint: agile product management & development with ZenHub
With ZenHub, developers can focus on coding and product managers can focus on managing timelines, backlog grooming, and progress all in one place. No context switching between tools, no interrupting co-workers to get their input on estimates, or check in on their progress. The addition of Automated Workflows means that teams can bypass common friction points, like confusing hand-offs of tasks from one team to the next.
Boards and Workspaces
Everybody loves the simplicity of a Kanban board, which is probably why boards are the foundation of both ZenHub and GitHub Projects. In ZenHub, Teams can create multiple Workspaces with a board within each Workspace. Each Board allows you to see all your team’s work (in GitHub Issues) and priorities in one place. Set up pipelines that map to each stage in your workflow pipeline and add Issues for each individual issue so that everyone knows what tasks are moving forward and which ones might be lagging behind.
ZenHub’s Workspaces have some additional functionality that makes filtering views a whole lot easier; you can filter by sprints and epics. While the ability to add labels is available in GitHub, ZenHub lets you add a “high priority” flag, so you can get an even more granular look at the work that’s happening. This added refinement makes ZenHub powerful for both developers and product owners.
To track larger bodies of interconnected work that may span multiple weeks and sprints, ZenHub Epics give you the power to track several Issues needed to complete a larger goal (for example, a new feature release) while also tracking interdependencies between tasks.
ZenHub’s Epics add a crucial extra layer of hierarchy to your GitHub Issues by making it easier and more efficient for managers and product owners to have end-to-end control over the release process. For folks operating in Agile, scrum-based teams, Epics ought to be your go-to.
Predictive Project Roadmaps
Product managers can track all the development work in GitHub with Roadmaps. Roadmaps provide a single-window-view into all the projects and epics happening across teams. If your team uses story point estimation, progress bars will show if work is tracking against estimates. Built-in predictive analytics — a feature you can only find in ZenHub — helps PMs automatically assess how long it might take teams to tackle projects in the future based on their past velocity and performance.
Automated Sprint Planning
Agile teams using GitHub Projects will likely experience the frustration of having to imperfectly adapt the platform to suit the “Scrum” working cycles, as sprints and epics are not a part of GitHub Projects. This creates a ton of annoying manual work. We wanted to fix this with ZenHub.
ZenHub’s sprint planning feature allows product managers to create sprints in GitHub via their ZenHub Board or Workspace. Just pick a start and end date, and ZenHub will instantly create a current sprint and two future sprints. And because the sprint planning feature is part of the Workspace where you’re already tracking Issues, product managers can rely on automation for tedious tasks like moving unfinished Issues to the next sprint.
For teams still using Milestones, ZenHub allows you to attach Milestones to all their relevant repositories across GitHub.
Just because you can do something manually, doesn’t mean you should have to keep doing it that way. We’re probably preaching to the choir when we say this, but automation saves so much time and, more importantly maybe, it frees smart, hard-working talent up to focus on high-value work.
There are several layers of workflow automation in ZenHub. They’re all designed to either relieve you from manual and repetitive tasks or help to deliver insights and data that make you more effective at planning and executing your work.
ZenHub’s Automated Workflows allow you to do things like automate hand-offs of tasks between teams and signal a shift in priorities or needs, without having to add more meetings to your calendars.
Our automation doesn’t just apply to planning work, it also applies to reporting on development work in progress. ZenHub uses your GitHub data to create real-time updates on the team’s performance (things like tracking story points, issues and pull requests) and the velocity or rate at which teams are accomplishing their work. ZenHub then turns all that data into easy-to-read charts that can be shared with project stakeholders.
Planning Poker Estimation
Do you loathe long planning meetings where you have to recall previous projects from memory and then just throw out a guess? Us too. Hence why we built our newest feature: Planning poker.
Planning poker is our way of improving estimation accuracy while also allowing multiple team members to contribute to the process whether in real-time or on their own time (that’s a win-win in our books).
Product owners and Scrum Masters can use it to request estimates from individuals prior to sprint planning. The estimates are applied directly to Issues in GitHub, making it effortless for technical folks to provide an estimation and then get back to work.
The data generated by the estimates leads to more accurate planning discussions. Estimates that the team agrees on will be automatically applied. Product owners and Scrum masters can easily spot outlier estimates (estimates on either the higher or lower end) and use that input to have a more focused discussion with the team, only discussing Issues that the team didn’t agree on. Simply put: you get more efficiency in fewer meetings.
One tool to rule them all…
GitHub has proven to be a powerful tool for developers. Our main mission with ZenHub is to build on that incredible foundation and provide tools that bring even more pivotal members of the production team together, namely product owners and managers. We know from experience that the best work happens when these two functions come together seamlessly under one virtual roof.
So, when it comes to the question of “ZenHub vs. GitHub Projects?”. The answer is – what is your team trying to accomplish?
For teams just started out with project management in GitHub, GitHub Projects may provide enough basic capabilities to get started down this path.
ZenHub is ideal for teams that:
- Want to improve their Agile processes and ship faster, using Kanban, Scrumban, or Scrum
- Want automation for common Scrum events, like sprint planning and planning poker
- Don’t want all the added complexity, fluff, and set-up overhead that big-name project management tools bring
- Need reporting, like velocity reports and burndown charts, to show their teams progress and efficiency
- Are part of a “team of teams” and need a tool that has the ability to scale and handle multiple teams, projects, and priorities
- Need something more powerful to provide stakeholders added visibility into their workflow
Ready to see how ZenHub can transform your team’s project management process? Give it a try today with a free trial.