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User Guide

About & Getting Started (5)

What is progr.es?

progr.es is a web-based project management application.

Oxford defines a project as “an individual or collaborative enterprise that is carefully planned to achieve a particular aim,” and progr.es makes the planning part easy and fun to do.

Any and all types of projects can be created, monitored and run using progr.es.

A typical use may be more business-oriented, since careful tracking of projects is essential for efficient use of your resources, monitoring what work is being done and for financial tracking, but progr.es can be used for your own non-work needs as well. For example: at work you may want to use progr.es to track the progress of an online sale from order to shipment whereas at home, you may want to make sure your babysitter follows exact steps while you are away for the weekend.

Feature-wise: progr.es has a project dashboard so you can monitor all of your projects in one place, and has individual project windows so you can check of project items and make notes.

Projects are broken down into steps called milestones and tasks – with milestones being a collection of related tasks that need to be completed before moving on to the next series of tasks.

A process is simply a project whose steps are well-defined so that the user will pretty much run through the same steps every time the project is run.

Read our first blog post for a more thorough overview of progr.es.

 

Change your settings

After logging in you can change your settings by clicking on your name (top right) and selecting Settings.

Alternatively, go to this URL: http://progr.es/accounts/basics

Clicking on the right hand navigation buttons on that page will allow you to update your settings:

Your Details & Preferences
To change your name, email address, initials and time-zone

Email Settings
To set whether you want to receive emails from progr.es (project notifications or news)

Associate your account
Sign in with LinkedIn, Google, Twitter or Facebook to associate your current login with them – which means you can then log on with any of them with one click

 

Change your avatar

progr.es uses third-party websites for avatars. There are two main sources:

1. Social websites
If you are using Facebook  or twitter to log in, your current avatar on those sites will be used. So to change your avatar, simply change your avatar on those sites.

2. Gravatar
progr.es will search for whether you have a gravatar association for the email address you are using. If one is found, that avatar is used by progr.es. So to establish an avatar, go to http://en.gravatar.com and sign up with the same email address you are using for progr.es. Upload the image you want as an avatar there, and that same image will be used on progr.es (give it some time to be updated across the web). If you subsequently want to update your avatar, return to gravatar to upload a new image.

 

Using time zones

By default progr.es will try to automatically assign you a time zone. To change your time zone, go into your Settings by clicking on your username.

Time zones are used for all time-stamps in projects. Why this matters is that if you are working with project collaborators around the world, you might need to adjust your time zone to view the project as them.

An example:
You are in Europe and your co-worker is in the USA. If you both standardize on the US East Coast time zone, then discussing the project could be easier – for instance, saying the project is due by 5 PM will be seen by both of you in the same way. Of course, progr.es will adjust displayed time based on your time zone (e.g. a milestone due at 5 PM in the US will display as being due at 11 PM in Europe), but it may be simpler for collaborators to standardize on one time zone to avoid misunderstandings.

 

Help!

If you have any questions, run into a bug or want to discuss anything with us, please use the Contact Us form and we will reply as soon as possible.

Alternatively, you can email us at:
progr.es support

 

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Dashboard (4)

Dashboard Overview

The progr.es dashboard is the main landing page from which you can monitor all project activity and select projects to view.

Individual projects are laid out as project cards. To view the project click on its card and it will be added to the project tab bar, and you will then see the full project details. You can click on the individual project tabs to view the projects or close tabs for projects you no longer want to view by clicking on the tabs x icon.

You can also do project actions (such as delete or pausing the project) from the project card using the project actions button on the top right of every card.

Project cards are laid out in status columns according to four project statuses: in progress, not started, on hold and completed. As the different projects change status their associated card will automatically move on the dashboard to the appropriate status column.

After some time the dashboard could get quite crowded with current and historical projects, so if you need to find a specific project you can use the project search function to filter the cards on display (for instance, to show only projects for one of your clients).

 

 

Project Cards

Project cards on the dashboard are laid out in columns according to the current project status (in progress, not started, on hold and completed). Within a status column, the cards are organized by last action date.

Project Card

You have direct access to project actions by clicking on the gear icon on a card. This is a shortcut so you do not need to open each project individually in order to do a project action.  (The various project actions are described here: http://blog.progr.es/user-guide/project-actions/)

You can roll-over parts of the card for additional information. Specifically: rolling-over Last Action will show which project user did the last action and rolling over the avatars will display the full user names.

 

Project Searching and Filtering

After you have added a lot of projects it may start to get difficult to find one or more projects easily on the dashboard. To make project finding easy you can use the dashboard search functionality that is activated by clicking into the search input box.

Dashboard Search

You are able to search by: text (as found in project title or short name), client or project type (the process a project was built from).

Entering text, or choosing options from either the client or type drop-downs (or both) will filter the project cards on display in the dashboard. For example, a simple way to get all projects you have ever worked on for a client is to select the client name from the Client drop-down.

To reset the dashboard to its unfiltered state, click on the “Clear Search” button. [Coming soon]

 

Dashboard Configuration

The dashboard handles card updates in two ways:

1. If a card has recently updated (e.g. another user has checked off a milestone) the card will be shown with a blue border. This allows a project manager who is monitoring the dashboard to see what projects have changed. Project Card Updated

2. If a card status changes (e.g. from in progress to completed) then the card is automatically moved to the appropriate status column.

You are able to override this default functionality through dashboard configuration buttons. To access these, you click into the search input box:

Dashboard Configuration

The Live update toggle sets whether you want cards to automatically move between status columns as their status changes. This can be useful if you are working on some projects and get confused when the project “disappears” from the column you think it should be in after its status changes.

Mark events as read will remove the blue card highlighting from recently changed cards.

Re-highlight events will add the blue card highlighting to recently changed cards.

 

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Projects (7)

Projects Overview

Projects are the heart of progr.es: the entire application is designed to make running, managing and collaborating on projects easy and fun.

Projects are broken down into steps called milestones and tasks, with milestones being key steps that represent the completion of a collection tasks that must be completed in order to move to next phase of a project. To complete a project, the user must run through each of the steps, checking off each item as done, with milestones being required and tasks being optional.

Every project has two required steps: a start milestone and an end milestone, with completion of the start milestone starting the project and completion of the end milestone finishing it. Everything else, from having  tasks to adding notes to adding collaborators is entirely optional.

For a company selling a product the most basic example of this might be:

Start Milestone: Ordered received
End Milestone: Order shipped

Now that would give the company at least some sense that a project has started, is in process or has finished, but it would likely need to be fleshed out by adding intermediate milestones and tasks to be truly useful.

In terms of working out whether a step should be a milestone or task, that is up to the project creator; they must asses which steps are more significant than others. But – by design – progr.es functionality should help make it clear which to choose:

Must steps happen one after another?
If so, you are likely dealing with milestones.
For example: you will need to get a product order before shipping it to the buyer; one must come before the other. This is enforced in progr.es by disabling milestone checking for all milestones apart from the next one due.

Is the sequencing less strict or the step less critical for tracking?  
If so, you are likely dealing with tasks.
For example: if you were building a custom chair, you might already get a customer’s requirements or specifications before the order has been placed. You might group tasks such as cutting wood, assembling pieces and painting together in a “build chair” milestone because  even though, as above, the steps must happen one after another, you are not that interested from a management perspective when each of these happens, but rather that the overall chair is built or not. On the other hand, if you had different teams assembling and painting chairs, then it would definitely make sense to promote these tasks to milestones. Unlike milestones, progr.es allows task checking at any time.

When you build your first projects there will likely be some changes (new milestones or tasks, or edits of existing steps) over time. Ultimately, when you feel like you have really nailed down the steps involved for a project and they will run in the same way repeatedly, this project has become a process - which is just a type of project whose steps have been standardized and formalized.

Having processes should making creating and managing projects much easier for project managers. Once a process has been created all that is required is a couple clicks and a new project is launched. For example, if you have a process for building a chair, you can simply kickoff a chair project by clicking on that process – you don’t have to rethink all the steps and the order in which they must happen again.

 

 

Your first project

Since each project requires a start and an end milestone, the first thing you have to decide is what will start your project and what will end it?

Some examples of steps that could start a project:

An online order is received for an e-commerce site
An application is submitted to a university
A complaint is sent to customer service
A babysitter arrives to take care of a child

Examples of steps that could end the projects started above:

The order is shipped
The final decision on the applicant is sent
The  complaint is resolved
The babysitter is paid and leaves

Once you have established starting and ending milestones, you actually have a complete project and can run that immediately. However, it is likely you will want to track more steps that need to be done – and you will add more milestones and tasks to achieve this. As a first pass, you should decide what the key steps that you want to track are, and add those as milestones.

For an online order, the steps might be:
Order received –> Product built –> Product checked –> Product shipped –> Client acknowledges receipt

Breaking down the project in this way allows you to see which step the online order is on at any time. You may additionally want to be sure that some other steps are reliably taken each time. For example, for product checking you might have tasks such as:

Check item color
Check item size
Look for any damage

These tasks then remind you (or the product checker) to evaluate the product in specific ways; without being explicit about these and making them tasks, they could be overlooked.

By breaking down your project into these steps you will achieve a project that is easy to track and will make all involved with the project know about what steps need to be taken and whether they have been.

But importantly for now: your project does not need to be perfect on the first pass – you can edit it endlessly after you first create it!

 

Starting a project: prerequisites and the start milestone

A special note needs to be made about what actually starts a project.

Completion of the first or start milestone starts the project.

What you may notice is that the first milestone can have tasks and you can even check-off these tasks without starting the project. This is because tasks for the first milestone are considered prerequisites for starting the project. You don’t need tasks for the first milestone (or anywhere, for that matter, since tasks are optional!) but if you add them, then consider them as steps you should take before the project officially starts.

For example, if your project is “Evaluating Applicants” and your first milestone is “Application received“  you may not want to start the project until all the required materials for the application are in. Accordingly you may hold off on starting the evaluation of an applicant until you have these items:

Completed application form
University transcripts
Recommendations 

If these items are critical for the evaluation of an applicant, it makes sense to add these as prerequisite tasks – which is what the first milestone’s tasks are.

 

Creating a new project

If you have never built a project, you will need to create a new one using the Project Builder. To launch the builder click on the green + New Project button on the top right of the dashboard.

Enter your project information:
Project Title – the long description of the project or process
Short Name – a short project name used for tabs

And fill in your milestones, noting that the first and last milestones are the only required steps, and all others are optional. This article should give you guidance on your project structure: http://blog.progr.es/user-guide/your-first-project/ and this article describes task use for the start milestone specifically: http://blog.progr.es/user-guide/starting-a-project/

During project building you can select add a milestone with the green + Add Milestone button or add a task with the “click to add task…” link . You can also delete a task (the trash-can icon) or a milestone (the X icon). You can also move entire milestone sections by rolling over the right of the section until you see the drag arrows, and then dragging the section to where you want it.

Milestone building

When your project has the milestones and tasks that you want it to have, you can save and start the project by clicking on the blue Save Project button. Optionally (and checked by default) you can save the current project as a process, which means you will be able to launch projects with the same design by just clicking a single button, as described here: http://blog.progr.es/user-guide/creating-a-new-project-from-a-process/

 

Creating a new project from a process

Once you have built and saved projects as processes using the Project Builder, you will have a selection of processes you can use for quickly starting new projects. When you select New Project from the dashboard you will be presented with your saved processes or be able to create a brand new project:

Create project from process

If you have defined and refined your processes, starting projects is then simply a matter of clicking on the desired process button which launches a new project window. Also, you can use the process menu by clicking on the drop-down arrow inside each process button:Process menu

You are able to either delete processes you no longer wish to use or edit them if you need to change their structure (add/edit/delete milestones or tasks).

 

Project actions

You can access the project actions menu by clicking on the gear icon on project cards on the dashboard or in the project info panel in a project window.

Project Actions Menu

Edit Project
Puts you in project editing mode where you can change (add, edit, delete) milestones and tasks, and change the project title and short name. [Note: the Edit Project option is not available on dashboard project cards]

Clone Project
If you have edited or added participants to your project, or simply want to repeat the current project exactly how it is, then Clone Project starts a new project with exactly the same structure.

Make Process
If you edit a project and want the current structure to be the standard structure for a new process, then you can make the current project into a process.

Reset Project
Resets tasks and milestones and removes comments so that the project is returned to its initial state.

Pause Project
If you need to pause the project for some reason (e.g. waiting for a client decision) then pausing the project puts the project On Hold to separate it from projects that have started, not started or finished.

Stop Project
Allows you to abandon a project without completing it.

Delete Project
Deletes projects you no longer want to work on.

 

 

Sharing projects and collaboration

Multiple users can be added to a project so that the work-load can be shared or progress can be tracked by a group.

To add users to a project, open the project window and then click on Add Users… in the Participants box.

This brings up the Add Participant popup which allows you to add users one at a time:

Adding participants popup

For each user, enter their email address and specify whether they can:

read a project – this allows them only to view the project, not checkoff tasks or milestones or add notes
write to a project – this allows them to checkoff tasks and milestones, and add notes
administer a project – this allows them to change everything about a project (add, edit or delete milestones and tasks)… even delete the project!

If the user is currently a progr.es user, they will then see the project on their dashboard and will be able to open it. If they are not a user, they will get an email invite to join progr.es, and after the join they will be able to open the project.

Note: After you have added a user via email address, you will not have to do this again – just typing their name or email will automatically search for the user from your contacts list.

 

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