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User Guide

Projects

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.