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How SCRUM methodology can help you minimizing project risks

Most of project managers have to face projects whose planning was done incorrectly, not in line with customer expectations, with the bad result of  big delays and budget overflows, and maybe this has happened to you too.
It is true, companies are being renewed, working groups are heterogeneous and distributed, increasingly flexible, and often, this flexibility forces the project managers to review their processes in order to make them more flexible too. Agile methodologies is the perfect response to this need.

In the 1990’s, there was a significant deviation of the projects from planning and, above all, customer requirements, particularly in the software development sector that used the standard waterfall approach.
Now, as then, companies plan and evaluate the project according to the requirements initially established by making only one final product release that could leads to misunderstandings. The project, so managed, often ends late and out of budget.

Agile methods, such as SCRUM, arise from the need to move the project from the planned and contracted part to bring it closer to the client, its needs and satisfaction throughout the entire development process.
A company that decides to use this framework is able to minimize the risks by keeping track of the progress of the project cyclically. By involving the team and the customer throughout the process, it is much easier to stay aligned with planning and stay in times and budget.

What is the SCRUM methodology?

It is the most famous of the agile techniques, it is a framework, a set of procedures, for the iterative management of the development process from a default set of tasks. It is based on the idea of refining, iteration after iteration, the initial idea of the customer, according to what is released from time to time and to his feedback.

At the beginning of the project we defined a task list (backlog), then, cyclically, we select a prioritized subset executable in about 1-2 weeks (sprint), tasks are completed and at the end of the sprint is submitted to the client for the test. Each sprint includes meetings for prioritizing activities, sharing work progress, and a final one for review and analysis. These cycles are repeated until the end of all activities.
The aim of the SCRUM methodology is to have no misunderstanding, so that the customer can work with the team cyclically to guide the product in the right direction without any unpleasant surprises at the end of the project. Thus, there may be not a final release date, the project closes when the activity list is empty and the customer is satisfied.

This framework also facilitates the estimation of the project, in fact it does not require a complete and total estimate, just a cyclical estimate that protects both the customer and the company from incorrect estimates: if the customer has a limited budget will be limited his list of activities, if the customer has infinite budgets, he can refine and add activities until project completion in agreement with the company.

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Why should I use an Agile Methodology?

Although the SCRUM methodology has born in the field of software development, it can be of help to many companies, not only by getting into it but by embracing the general philosophy.

We have recently applied the scrum method to digital marketing finding that also such companies can benefit from this framework, some examples:

1) Define a list of requirements / activities / desires with the customer as detailed as possible: this will help you estimate your project’s effort, make the client aware of any critical issues and protect you from any extra requests.

2) Prioritize the activities and estimate them with your team: this habit can be of great help in carrying out the project, involving the team in estimating, it will be involved and empowered, obtaining from them accurate information that resides only in the knowledge of the technicians. Not only that, the team that prioritizes activities, in fact manages its own workload and becomes more aware of it. Involving the team is the most effective strategy to estimate projects.

3) Organize management in production iterations: whether the customer interacts or the cycles are internal to the company, organizing productions into iterations forces each team to make the point of the situation on regular basis, immediately recognizing any deviations from the expectation avoiding useless delay.

4) Daily meetings for work progress: this activity, often underestimated, is in fact crucial. Updating the team on the progress of their work allows them to share more stressful moments and to help with delays by saving the project from bottlenecks.

The list of benefits that you may have by approaching agile methods are numerous, whether you follow the letter, or just apply the philosophy. The system cyclicity will allow you to improve over time, understanding with your workgroup what works and what does not.

If you decide to use a project management software that supports this technique, organizing  your work better will be even easier, a software like Twproject, can guide you in improving internal processes giving you back control on your projects.

Start now managing your projects with SCRUM

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Scrum With Twproject for SEO & Digital Marketing

I recently read a very interesting post about how to use Scrum methodology in a SEO & Digital Marketing Team. The post has been written by Marcus Miller (@marcusbowlerhat) and you can read it here:

Using agile project management for SEO & digital marketing

This post gives me the idea to write a new one explaining how to use Twproject with Agile methodologies and, following the Miller’s post, how a SEO & Digital Marketing Team can use it.

Scrum: What is it and why with Twproject?

How it is well explained in the post, the Scrum methodology is a project management approach helping small teams, and in particular software development ones, releasing products in an incremental and iterative development.

This approach defines a flexible and cohesive environment where a team can develop a product as a unit, self-organized, with common goals.

A Scrum team usually consists of several people, with specific roles, that, starting from a project with a well defined list of features (“the backlog”) , works together in short time cycles, on prioritized  sub-sets of features (“sprints”).

Team communication is encouraged with daily scrum meetings and a retrospective meeting at the end of each sprint.

Even if Twproject works fine, both with Waterfall and Agile methodologies, the second approach meets perfectly the idea behind our software.

Encouraging team communication, self organization and a more practical approach to what needs to be done, saving time and energy, are just some of the key ideas of Twproject.

Scrum Roles

Product Owner, Scrum Master and Team member, these are the specific scrum roles that you find already loaded in Twproject, and this will be the only roles required for managing your Scrum project, I refer to the post at the top for roles definition and usage.

You can activate these roles from the Twproject admin page ->  New area creation wizard -> Create an area with SCRUM specific roles.

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Once the scrum area has been activated, in the project section, you will find a new “create scrum” button.

Thanks to this functionality you will create your scrum project in minutes, just selecting your team members, the system will create the project assigning the correct resources with the chosen roles.

Agile tools

Once the project is created and all your team is assigned with the correct role you have to insert the backlog. This can be done easily with Twproject using issues.

An issue in Twproject is a task activity, a to-do, a ticket, a backlog item, something that needs to be done in a specific task.

Twproject backlog issues can be prioritized, ordered, and have customizable status (open, in test, working, closed, is up to you), a time estimation and a due date.

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Managing your backlog with Twproject is very practical thanks to the Kanban tool that lets you visualize your items by priority, by status, assignee and so on. Thanks to the Kanban you can see the status of the work, what is assigned to who, checking with a click all the progress your team is making.

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Once the backlog is created you can create your first sprint.

The sprint creation includes also the set up of an agenda event for all the team members for the stand up meeting.

At this step you will also select the backlog items that you want to move to the new sprint:

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Once your sprint is created is time to work. The team members will see in their dashboard all their items with priorities. Team members can communicate with a dedicated forum, working together to get things done.

At the end of the sprint, you can create a new agenda event, starting from the project work group to analyze what has been done, what you can improve, and how to go further.

This procedure will be repeated until you finish all the backlog and your project is closed.

Twproject includes also a set of reports that you can use to control your product developments, one of them is the burn down graph, a specific chart showing how the team is performing.

Conclusion

As Marcus Miller pointed out in his post “No matter how efficient we become, the work still has to be done”: no matter how a software can help you managing the project, you still have to do the job, that’s true, but we really hope that our tool can make your life easier.

I think that one of the best features of the Scrum methodology is that it is meant to be improved on the go, you do not actually need to be a master to start organizing your work, you can refine from sprint to sprint.

Using Twproject you can start immediately and without effort using this methodology and test if it works for your company too.

I suggest you to read the post of Marcus Miller that explains in a very intuitive way how this methodology works and how to introduce it in your team.

Using agile project management for SEO & digital marketing

The post is focused also on how to use this methodology in a SEO and digital marketing company, but, as you can imagine this approach can be used in every fields, try it out and contact us if you have questions!

Try Twproject now for managing your SCRUM projects

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How to Introduce Project Management Software & Succeed

One of the biggest challenges, a project manager can face in a new team, is to change things for the better and let this changes take effect without the resistance of the team.

One of the most frequent examples is when a project manager decides to introduce a new tool for project management.

This moment of change, even if it is felt like very stressful,  is actually a great opportunity for a company to improve its strategy and organizations.

So,  what if you are that project manager? What if you really want to change things in your company organization with a new project management software?

Fix your expectations:

One of the most important things you need to do, before introducing a new software, is identifying your goals. You have to answer these 2 questions:

  1. Which are the main reasons that bring me to search for a project management tool?
  2. Which are the key features of the tool I chose?

these very simple questions can let you analyze what you are missing in your team now and which are the milestones you want to achieve in the future. Here are some examples:

“I really need to let everyone see what they are working on, stop wasting time with e-mails, pointing out problems and delay. The software I’ve chosen has great dashboards with the list of active assignments by priority.”

“I started searching for a project management software because we really do not know how much our projects cost. We wanted to track time and extract reports with resources costs. We chose the software that lets us manage resource costs easily, together with a time tracking tool”

Once you have your goals in mind be realistic and set some small achievements for your near future. Having realistic expectations is very important, actually it is a key point, if you expect to achieve unrealistic goals  you will immediately face a sense of fail in your team, and this will bring the software to fail.

At the same time, if you do not communicate your expectations, no one will understand how much  helpful will be this change and they will abandon the software.

No one said it was easy….

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Team communications, change is for the better..

The other key point about introducing a new software in a company, is to let everyone know, that this will actually help everyone working better, not just the project manager.

This, in some cases, is very difficult.

If you are the project manager of a cohesive team, maybe this will not affect you, but now I’m talking to all those pm, having a big team to manage, maybe a distributed one, with several people working in different ways. So, how to let them feel that changes are for the better?

It is not a software to control who is working and who is not. It seems a bad thing to say, but most of the time, these kind of software are felt like tools to control. They are not and you have to tell them clearly. It doesn’t matter if in the future you will get amazing reports of all worked hours, or if, thanks to the software, you will be able to see who is overloaded. The reason for changing is not to control, or at least it shouldn’t be ;-).

Be your own pm and organize your work better. Once the project manager has created the structure of the task, with dependencies and time frames all the team will be able to check their priorities, organize their to dos and manage their work in autonomy. If you, as pm, are able to let them understand the utility of this new responsibility you will have them on board.

These are just two examples of what you can point out to your team to let them know how helpful can be a project management software, let them know that is a tool for the whole team.

Get the best from the software

Following this easy yet effective strategy to introduce the new software in your company you will get in time amazing results. If your team will use the software, inserting and updating data with no effort, you will get something like:

Inserting estimation and worklog -> team workload and cost tracking

When the software is well introduced you will start inserting projects charts, assigning your resources with estimation and hourly costs. Thanks to this, and having your team inserting worklog you will be able to see your resources workload, control tasks progress and check costs, all data updated in real time.

Managing teams and agenda -> meeting and documents sharing

If you start using a shared agenda, you will be able to share appointments and create meeting easily according to task work-groups. check unavailability and the same connection will be created to easily share documents.

Read more here about managing distributed team agendas.

Using task checklist -> self management and responsibility

When a pm software is introduced, it can give you also the possibility to track to-do lists connected to projects. This is a very useful way for all users to organize, prioritize their work, finally they will stop using notes on the desk and no ideas or messages will be lost.

If you feel that your team needs a more structured way to work, it is probably time to introduce a project management software. Yes, it will be a big change but you can really get results if you follow our strategy. Our software, Twproject, can really give all the results mentioned above, all those features in one software only.

Introduce your team to Twproject.

One try is worth a million words.

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How to be an Innovative Project Manager (Infographic)

Despite what people think, being a project manager requires a lot of creativity. A project manager has to be creative managing his resources and their productivity lacks , emotions or peculiar ideas,  be creative in communication with his own bosses, be creative managing large projects with unexpected delays…

So, how to stay creative even when your are managing complex projects? Here there are some suggestions:

Do meditate and don’t stay up all night – this is good suggestion in general. To be more productive and yet creative, studies show that you have to rest at least 6 hours per night. In addition to this, learning to meditate, can teach you the art of patience and to avoid to much stress accumulation.

Do be a sponge and don’t wait for inspiration –  project management methodologies are there to try them out and find the best one fitting your projects.  Agile methodology, waterfall, GTD, these are just few examples of methodologies to experiment. Try to be open minded to new strategy and learn to walk on unknown paths, teams are generally positive to a more structured organization that let them feel more secure and followed. If you are facing problems managing your projects and checking their progress you can use a project management software like Twproject that lets you work in different ways according to your needs.

Do trust yourself and don’t go it alone – even if you are the project manager do not forget about your team opinion. Trust yourself ideas and creativity but ask for their opinion too before going forward with an important decision. If a choice will fall back on your team too, it will be easier if they participated to the final decision. This will reinforce your team culture.

Do pay attention and don’t pass judgement – projects, from start to end are like a big creativity process, that requires your attention constantly. In this sense, you need to pay attention to everything happening in your company, if there is a problem that can impact on your projects too you have to operate immediately even in a creative way.  Never stop analizing your delay and their causes because they may happen again, and a deep study can help you facing them in the future.

Do say “Yes, and…” and don’t say “That never works” – Do push back and don’t argue – here we are talking about team building, because you can’t be an innovative project manager if you do not have an innovative team and a team can perform its best if everyone is free to express his opinion, and you , as projects manager, have to learn to listen to them, even if you do not agree. To have the most innovative team you have to look outside of the box.

“Old pattern only bring to old results”

“New ideas require risk. People need to know it’s safe to express new thinking”

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Source Entrepreneur.

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How To Manage Distributed Teams – Sharing is Caring

These days, companies has to face an ever growing need for dynamic teams, shared groups of people working together through the internet. This need increases hand by hand with the difficulty of managing team dynamics and project updates.

For this reason, using conventional software like Microsoft project, built for managing projects in their best case scenario with clearly identified teams, could not fit the needs.

Many Projects – Lots of Teams

Big companies, and small ones too, with a high number of projects can see their number of teams increase accordingly, and when I say team I mean people that are actually working on the project.  Even if your company has just seven colleagues like ours, and you have one team working on several different projects,  you can face the same problem: a meeting for a project, a meting for another, uncounted e-mails refer to a projects, many refer to another, what a mess!

For this reason we cannot underestimate this trend and we better try to manage it.

Sharing is Caring

Actively work on a project often involves sending  tons of e-mail to keep everyone updated on what is going on, share documents and information about progress and commitment, schedule meeting with customers and colleagues, share the list of to-dos to get the project done.

This continuous flow of information assumes that you have always in mind all those who compose a specific team. How many of you spend more than a minute checking the list of attendees to be sure that everyone has been added? What if someone is forgotten?

Distributed Teams – Somebody Help!

It’s clear now that we need something helping us managing distributed teams. But what if I told you that the solution is at one step distance? Dynamic teams are implicitly defined by your projects. No one knows better, who is involved, than project management software.

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Node by node, different people could be assigned and different information could be shared. Simply looking at the team from the project’s point of view, you will see the work-group changing.

This simple yet effective idea, let you start from the point of view of your project: when you have an information to share you just need to focus on which is the specific project related, your team is already there!

Just open you projects management software, your changing teams are saved there!

If you have not introduced a project management software in your company you can try Twproject that solves this problem with a suite of functionalities that starts exactly by the work group created on a project.

Finally we will have the distributed teams problem solved and nobody will be forgotten.

If you want to read more about how to introduce a project management software and succeed you can read this post:

https://twproject.com/blog/how-a-project-manager-can-introduce-a-significant-change-and-actually-succeed/

We have the tools, we have the culture.

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Software Development Project Template – Free Download

Even if every company has its own peculiarity, we find, in our experience, that company with same business share also the same internal processes.

This is probably the reason why, often, our customers, ask us for project’s template that they can import and adjust in their own Twproject instance. This helps them starting with Twproject easily, refining processes on the go.

We got then the idea to share all these templates in a series of blog posts where you will find the template file free to download.

Which is the project?

Today we create a typical software development project template. Software, but also a different kind of product. We created this with one of our customers that has lunched its product on kickstarter, of course, we simplify the project, removing all tasks specific for its project.

This project is a great example, in fact, we recognize in it, all the common phases and dependencies of a  software development project. It could work for our software house too. Of course, once imported, you can change it to best fit your company’ production process.

The first step of the project is to analyze competitors and collect ideas and requirements. This steps for example could be different if the software is owned by your company or if it is created for a specific customers, in this second case you will probably skip competitor’s analysis to focus on collecting requirements from your  customer.

Second step is “development”, in this case we are talking about a web application, but it could work for a mobile app too.

Testing phase is not included but you could add if it is done internally instead of by your customer.

Last but not least we have documentation and the marketing Phase, which starts immediately and maybe before the beta launch.

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The structure of the development phase is probably the most variable, for example you could have a series of beta releases instead of one, you could have internal testing and also a customer approval step. This are just some ideas of this project possible changes.

How can I import it?

Download the file below and open your Twproject instance. In the project list page there is a button with two arrows that will open a menu with the import functionality.

 

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How does it work?

In Twproject every project could be a template for creating a new one. The copy function, in fact, is available in every project details page.

The best part, is that you can create really complex projects with a click but, at the same time, you can decide to copy/clone only small part of a single project, and re-use it in the same project or in a brand new one. Its up to you.

Our file is a complex project that you can just import and transform in your own template, adjust names, task duration and you are ready to go.

Ignore start date and task status, because your project will be relocated in time once you copy it.

Great right?

Click to download the template

If you created your own template in Twproject and you want to share it with us you can send them at info@twproject.com!

Our template can be exported in MPX format too, if you want it you can send us an email at  info@twproject.com.

 

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Does Twproject use Twproject?

If someone would have asked me the most frequent question I get since I worked here at Twproject, I would answer without hesitation “Does Twproject use Twproject?” This is the most asked question by our customers and then of course “How do we use it?

If I was a good marketer I should probably say:

“Yes, of course we use it, we have created a fantastic project management tool and we could not be able to find anything better out there!”

But you know that I am always honest with you so my real answer is:

“Yes, of course we use it, the most important rule in developing software is to eat your own dog food, if possible, and we are doing it every day”

Since the very beginning of Twproject development, we have used it internally to simply find the best answers to every day works problem and questions.

Twproject has born and developed to answers our own needs and at the same time the needs of thousands of company like ours.

Using it internally has helped us finding the most interesting ideas and of course tons of bugs 🙂

Now that Twproject is a well grown software we can actually say that use it internally also for managing our projects and here it comes the second most asked question “How do we use it?”

Here at Twproject we have several great people working in the design department, in the accounting one, we have the development team and the marketing one from which I belong.

Each of us use Twproject in a different way, and the great thing is that it works perfectly for all of us.

I have already written how to use Twproject for managing marketing strategies and this is mainly how I use it everyday so I though it could be interesting to find how one of our development guys use it, so I asked Roberto, our Twproject Lead architect.

Roberto manages the Twproject project with Twproject…. it’s our own tongue-twister 🙂

Roberto manages releases creating one task for each one of them, right now his working on Twproject 6.1, wow, I really said that? Twproject 6.1 is about to be released with some great new features so stay tuned!

“At the very beginning managing all features requests, bugs and ideas was really difficult, we were covered by ideas from our customers and from our self, moreover we had a lot of bugs to solve and excited customers that asked us a lot of customization”

Roberto and his team decided to organize all features and developments in different task releases (each of them under the main task called Twproject) creating a real road map of features and ideas for the future. In time, Roberto’s team has created great features like the Gantt editor (also released as javascript Gantt editor component on MIT license) with dependencies and critical path management, the great Twproject to-dos management with prioritization, personal order, gravity management, impact bar and scheduled to-dos notifications.

“Now managing Twproject road map is very easy, following a software product development is very easy with Twproject”

And here are his everyday Twproject tricks:

Collect all ideas, features and bugs in your current release

Use all Twproject classifications to insert your ideas, bugs and features in your current release, use Twproject issues for this kind of things. You can classify issues by tag or type and prioritize them with gravity to define an order of importance. Classifications can be refined during meeting with your team.

Give to the most important things a due date and let Twproject remind you of them

If you have things to do that you want not to forget about, just add a due date, in your Twproject home page you will always see all things requiring your attention.

Subscribe to all important events and cut out meetings

Twproject will notify you of all updates you have been subscribed, finally you will know exactly what your team is up to and you will reduce a lot of time spent in meetings.

Move forward to the next release

When you have closed some interesting features, bugs and you are ready to go out with your release, clone your task and bring to the new one all the open issues you have not closed yet. In Twproject every task can be a template for others! In this way all ideas and open bugs will follow you and you will never lose any of them again.

Record your time closing issues

Developers generally close a lot of issues in one day and every time you will do that Twproject will ask you “how much time did it takes?”, no better moment to record your worklog, no additional effort at the end of your day.

 

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I really hope that this post will be helpful to all of those searching for a project management tool for managing software products.

Follow our blog to read more case of study!

We have the tools, we have the culture.

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Twproject security model: you are on a solid ground

Twproject security model has been designed and refined in years, and it’s now the most complete and safe model you could have.

Since we added a new permission in the latest release, dedicated to assignment expenses management, we decided to write a new post to explain in details how the Twproject security model works, and what you could expect when you start working with it:

What is a role?

In Twproject a role is a set of permissions, telling to the system what a user can do. We have 2 different kind of roles: a global one, giving you permissions on all entities in the system and one at project level, defining permissions on projects’ connected entities only.

The global role is assigned to a resource when you activate its login.

When, instead, you assign one of your colleagues (“resource”) on a task you have to specify a project role. In this way you will be sure that resources will see only what they are involved in.

For more details about how create and modify roles check our user guide here:

https://twproject.com/support/using-twproject/security/

Pre-loaded roles

When you first start using Twproject, no matter if you are on your  local machine or on our demo, you will have a pre-loaded set of roles and permissions.

This roles have been created and refined in years and fits 90% of cases, so you will probably not need to change them at all.

When you create your first assignment you will find these roles:

Project manager:  Can manage the entire project, for example can change dates, create subtasks, add todos and assign new resources.

Worker: Can insert worklog, manage issues and documents on the project .

Stakeholder and Customer: Can monitor the project without changing anything and add todos.

Choosing one of them, you will define the allowed operations for that resource on that task.

The main permissions involved in managing projects and resources are the following:

Resource read:  Allows to read resources. Used with the “assignment create” and without the “resource manage” permission, it lets you assign from your team only.

Resource manage: It allows to manage the work of all resources, and assign all of them if used with the “assignment create” permission.

Task read: Allows to read tasks.

Task create: Allows to create tasks.

Task write: Allows to write tasks, for example change dates and status.

Assignment create, read, write: It allows you to create, read, and write assignments, the list of assignable resource depends if you have the “resource manage permission” or if you manage a team.

Worklog manage: Allows to manage worklog, approve it, bill it of resources  involved in the project.

Expenses manage: It allows you to manage the expenses of  resources involved in the project

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Roles have several other permissions for managing costs, documents and much more but they are not the focus of this post. Checking the roles’ page you will see that we have a permission for almost every entity in the system,  making of Twproject the most flexible project management software.

The resource chart – manage your team

Another way to give permissions to a resource in Twproject is creating teams with the responsible person. When a resource is defined as the manager of the team he will be able to check his team allocation, active projects, inserted worklog, resource workload and so on.

This will be possible even if the manager is not assigned on the same task of his team, simply by creating the company structure in the resource section.

Who & What (real life examples)

We have a senior project manager that can assign all resources on his projects and a junior one that should assign only resources from its team

In this case you need two different roles: the senior will have the default permissions, the junior instead, will not have the “resource manage” permission, in this way he will be able to assign only the resource on his team (he is manager of).

In my company there is single person, not assigned on any task that check worklogs and assignment expenses and mark them as approved for billing, how can I manage this?

In this case you have to give an higher level role (security tab in resource editor) to this resource including the “worklog manage” and the “expense manage” permissions.

We have a pmo managing the workload of all our resources, he is not assigned on any task

Here you will need an higher level role (security tab in resource editor) including the “resource manage permission”, in this case the resource will be able to monitor and change the workload of all resources and their plan.

We want to always assign resources from our own team

Just create your resource chart according to your team structure and then remove from the project manager role the “resource management” permission.

 

Customizations:

As I said analyzing examples above, you may need to customize your roles to let Twproject fits your work habits, this can be easily done from the admin section where there is a dedicated page to roles where you can add and remove permissions.

When you do that always remember the mining of the different permissions as explained above.

Conclusion:

Twproject security model is really refined, it lets you manage permissions both, at company and task level easily, having everything under control. Having such a complex structure will ensure your that your resources will be allowed to see and manage only things they can actually work on.

For more details about Twproject security model check our user guide here:

https://twproject.com/support/using-twproject/security/

 

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The Most Effective Way to Solve Management Problem

When a company feels the need of introducing a project management software is probably because a deep change is happening. Time of changing introduce a feeling of uncertainty that often terrifying people. It is instead usually a great opportunity for a company to grow and improve methodologies and results.

When your work is well organized, working is easier and people are happier.
For this reason introducing a software for managing projects could be hard at an early stage but a great success once accepted and used by all the team.

We have been providing bootcamps for 10 years in order to help companies reducing the learning period, ensuring all teams that, having everything organized, will improve the life of all of them.

Twproject bootcamp is the opportunity to sit all around a table and simply discuss about how to work better, there are not so many opportunities for doing that right?

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This is exactly what we do and why we call it internally the company’s therapy 🙂 And we all need it because working better is chance we can’t waste.

When a team is all together a lot of hidden problems come to light and finally discussed and resolved, around Twproject’s bootcamp table every opinion counts and have to be discussed.

Even if every company has its own procedures an habits, problems are always very similar, a lot of resources overloaded that are not able to prove how many open tasks they have, project managers that do not have the right feeling about project progress, teams that are disconnected and use different tools for managing their work….

“Probably we are the most complected company you have ever seen” or

“We have to many interruptions to really have the correct feeling of our work load” or

“Our tasks are too complex to be estimated correctly”

These are just an example of all phrases we heard in our experience, and we can ensure you that they are very often the same. Bad habits are very similar, even in very different companies, but introducing a Project management software is the correct path to face them once and for all. Our bootcamp are the best opportunity to put all your doubts and problems on the table, discuss them and solve them.

Mapping companies’ habits into the software is the easiest part of the meeting, facing problems is the hardest part but also the most interesting and inspiring one. If you think that this change can happen without effort you got wrong, changing bad habits is a hard work to do and for this reason you have to start with a step by step plan. Set your goals, choose how you would like to work, which data you would like to collect, and work together with your team to meet those goals.

  • Fix a meeting with the team promoting this change
  • Discuss your goals, why did you choose to start using a project management software? Which is the immediate problem you want to solve?
  • Extend the meeting to the rest of the team exploring the software and which are the features really helpful for your company
  • Time for facing problems, let’s design some different internal projects, how we can improve the way you work?
  • Map the projects into the software, the happiness of having everything in one place only.

This is of course just an example of our boot camp’s road map, we never know the way it goes, the only thing we know for sure is that no matter how hard the transition is, it’s always worth.

Read more about Twproject bbotcamps.

One try is worth a million words.

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New In Twproject: Conditional Custom Fields

Twproject is flexible, you know that right? It lets you create your own reports, forms, dashboard and from its very beginning it allows user to add custom fields on all main entities. During the years this great functionality has been improved, adding custom fields on every object, tasks, resources, worklogs, costs, issues. Now we give you even more. Custom fields can be now visible only on objects matching one or more characteristics that you specify while creating the new field. Great, isn’t it?

Now you can say Twproject to show a custom fields only in particular cases, let’s see an example of these conditional custom fields:

Below you see the syntax for adding a new field on the task editor: I’ve added a custom field asking for an external code that refers to my invoice system, I say to Twproject to show this field only on tasks of type “Course”.

ScreenShot139

Invoice id, 10, {visibleIf:'"Course".equals(obj.type.description)'}

The first part represent the name, the second the length of the field and the third one the condition.
And here it is:

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This new great feature is available since Twproject 6.0.60015.  Custom Fields can be added on tasks, issues, resources, assignments, worklogs, expenses. budget and costs. For navigating the object’s reference and find how to write your condition you can just read here:

Read Twproject’s Object Reference and find how to write your condition.

Let’s check this new feature.

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6 Qualities Of Great Leaders – Infographic

In our experience with thousands of great companies, that we’ve met thanks to Twproject, we have analyzed so many teams at work, encountering always the same characteristics defining great leaders with successful and happy collaborators. Being a leader is not an easy job, you have to carefully balance humility, strength and integrity, being always steps ahead and empathetic with your team. This interesting infographic show 6 characteristics on how to be a great leader.

Have a Vision – Communication is a key point being a leader, a vision is not enough, you have to be able to describe it to your team in order to transform it into an executable plan. You need to anticipate problems embracing change. Read the following post if you want to know more about more about improving communication within teams.

Be Modest– being a great leader requires humility, you need to admit mistakes being open to criticism and ready for improvement.

Manage Emotions – Emotions lead a team like a leader, and for this reason you have to be able to manage them, in particularly yours, in order to always positively effect others.

Be Honest – Be always sincere to build lasting trust in your team.

Appreciate the journey – Show commitment to your team and stand by your ideas.The key to making things work, is hard work

Help Others – Helping your team growing will help your projects too, acting with generosity always affect positively your people.

We found this infographic really helpful, summarizing all main qualities you need to attain for being a great leader, read below for the full list of tips.

If you want to manage your projects efficiently and improve your team communication you can try Twproject, the best project management software that helps thousands of companies getting things done everyday!

Leadership

Infographic courtesy of: Eliv8group

We have the tools, we have the culture.

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Plan Your To-Dos with Twproject

Organizing work to-dos is probably the hardest part of self organization, we read every day so many articles about haw to stay organized managing time productively and creating effective to-do lists. Here at Twproject we face the same problem as you do, because we are developers, marketers, designers exactly like you. When we started redesigning Twproject 6 we sit around a table thinking about how to really solve this every day problem, how to really help people organizing their to-dos?

For this purpose we introduced 2 very effective tools, the to-do planner and the Kanban tool, but today I want to focus just on the first one: Twproject To-Do planner:

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Let’s see what you can do with this amazing tool: first of all, at the top of the page you have a filter that gives you all the power to find and refine the list of selected to-dos. This is up to you, you can decide to organize your to-dos task by task, or all together, you may just want to see the most urgent ones, or the open ones, as I said, it depends on you. Twproject filters are really flexible and all filters can be saved and reused.

Your filtered to-dos will appear on the grid on the left, or in the box of the day in case you have already planned them for a specific day.

Now what you have to do is simply drag them to the day you want to schedule it.

Having your to-dos-planned will help you also keeping track of them, the impact bar will show you if you have expired to-dos, something that you should have done and that is still open.

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This tool is helpful even more considering that you can then prioritize all the to-dos you have for a day.

The Twproject to-do planner is even more powerful because it can be used in a shared environment, so you can add more users to the list moving to-dos from one resource to another. This is very useful if you work in a smart team that shares thinks to be done.

Create your work list according to your tasks, plan your to-dos with Twproject planner staying always organized, prioritize them day by day, add comments, screenshots and get things done!

Convinced right? So just give Twproject a try!

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How Marketing Agencies Use Twproject

We have always defined Twproject as a flexible project management software and the reason why we do so is that there is not a sector where Twproject is not useful. Our project management software is used by thousands of companies all around the world meeting expectations of great project managers and their teams in almost any fields. Twproject project management software has a very intuitive interface that enables an efficient communication in the team, and a great set of features answering needs of all companies leaders.

Today we want to focus on how marketing agencies use Twproject, which are key features for these teams and why.

Project/Campaign

Twproject can be easily used for managing marketing campaign; every project you create has a start and an end date identifying your campaign period, milestones can be set at the beginning or during the marketing initiative according to goals you want to achieve. With Twproject you can set your goals and meet them. Every project can be structured in tasks as per your campaign strategy, tasks can be closed, paused according to your needs; checking progress in real time is the key to make your campaigns work.

Campaign strategies, ideas and resources

Once your project structure is created you are ready for brainstorming with your team about things to do, tools to use, social media to engage and Twproject is ready to help you. Every project has a discussion section where all team members can discuss, propose, approve ideas, encouraging creative thinking.

Twproject allows you to link every project to a to-do list. You can add here everything you need to remember, everything you need to do, and in the same place you can store useful links, images, videos, every resource helpful for your marketing campaign. Everything can be commented by the team, collaboration has never been so easy.

You can always stay in touch with your colleagues, arrange meetings with Twproject shared agendas and staying up to date with campaign progress.

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Campaign report and achievement

Every information about your progress is stored and easily readable so that you can analyze your achievement and improve your future campaings. Twproject project/campaign can be cloned, so for the next campaign you just need to duplicate it and you are ready to go! Twproject includes complete reports for adjusting and changing future strategies.

And last but not least you can record all your time spent on every specific project, so that you will always be able to track your campaign costs.

Convinced right? So just give Twproject a try!

The never ending Twproject war with Microsoft Project

The never ending Twproject “war” with Microsoft Project

Through our customers and contacts we frequently get reminded about Microsoft Project© enduring existence.

Twproject was in fact first born as the limitation of Microsoft Project (it was 1999 🙂 ) were unsolvable by using the Microsoft Project API available at the time. And the two project management solutions are born to differ in their core philosophy – and they do. Web applications became possible at the time and Twproject development started, around 2002, and Twproject got developed as wed based and around the idea of making information gathering as easy as possible.

Why care about Microsoft Project then? The team that develops Twproject and the set of its customers are often large, even enterprise companies, and we have the experience and sensitivity to typical corporate problems of software and IT integration. In these contexts we are still frequently asked how Twproject and Microsoft Project compare as solutions for corporate customers, e.g.

I actually downloaded it and I am trying it on my localhost. I would love to hear though what advantages Twproject has over Microsoft Project Server. We are in the process of trying to decide. If you have a comparison white sheet I would be grateful.
Some information follows.

Twproject is web based (since 2001)

Twproject around 2002

Being web based then and today meant ubiquity, adaptiveness, flexibility, inclusiveness. This in our opinion is what Microsoft Project always lacked.

Microsoft almost made it (in 2014!) making a web version of Microsoft Project the reference one. Still if you check their user interface it tries to emulate desktop software, using an iconic language alien to the web.

Twproject is cost effective

Let’s consider costs:
is available for $58 per user, per month

Microsoft marketing in the referenced videos stress the simplicity of the price model, probably as an effort to distract from prices. Well Microsoft’s model is actually quite complex, price ranges from $33 to $58 (per user / month!) – and if you want to use the desktop client, prepare to pay $1556 for each client!

That is way more expensive than Twproject, which gives you a full user for less than $5 per month!

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Twproject is not Gantt centered 🙂

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jQuery GanttIt is a bit funny to write this, because we released a free, open source amazingly popular JavaScript web based Gantt component :D, which is also part now of Twproject.

Twproject has a Gantt-like editor where we tried to get the advantages of the Gantt user interface model without adopting the unrealistic

(planned time = project effort)

equation which constitutes the core of the Gantt model.

Twproject focuses on real work done

While in the current version planning is fully supported, still the core of Twproject is collecting information about real work done.
So it collects multiple projects, allows temporary dis-alignment of dates and statuses, collects issues, to-dos, worklogs, does all it can to encourage users to insert information in the simplest, fastest possible way. Planning is supported, but Twproject works with and without planned work.

Twproject integrates with different IT structures

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Microsoft Project depends for everything on Share Point©, so including its collaborative aspects. it is strongly integrated with Microsoft Exchange©.

So you have to get the whole Microsoft package, like it or not, to adopt Microsoft Project. Meh.

Twproject instead is functionally and technologically widely compatible with different solutions and is built to be non-intrusive.
This is true for both the installed and the online version of Twproject.

For example, the installed version runs stand alone in Tomcat (a Java web server), and can run anywhere, supporting easy integration with say LDAP, single-sign on and directory services.

The on-line version comes as a dedicated server instance that comes with its own mail server for a dedicated notification email.

Twproject works fine without Microsoft Exchange©, simple connection with an SMTP and POP3 service gives you full e-mail integration.

Twproject has an “open” approach (even if is not open source, sources are available for our customers). It runs on every operating system and can use any database. It is available both on cloud on or customer premises. It is web based and you can use it with every “modern” browser. Twproject is a wise choice from the IT manager perspective because of its open data and infrastructure features, as IT infrastructure changes over time.

Twproject developers are people, easily reachable on-line

Twproject is built by a small, solid and very efficient company. Its developers are ready to give support on the solution; moreover complete sources are available for free for all customers. Twproject is structured to support customization, custom extensions, reports, wizards, complete custom forms, and export and import with other data sources.

We deployed and maintain many customized parts for our over 3000 customers, all compatible with Twproject main release and hence compatible with updates.

Conclusion

After 15 years, the divergence of the two products is still considerable. In the meantime, the road of the web as a platform for applications has become the main path for collaborative software. And the diversity and richness of IT environments has increased. So we believe there are ever more good reasons to pick a safe, compatible solution as Twproject instead of the closed Microsoft Project universe.

References

http://windowsitpro.com/office-365/microsoft-announces-project-lite-cloud-based-productivity-team-members

http://www.microsoft.com/resources/technet/en-us/office/media/video/video.html?cid=pstc&from=sharepermalink&VideoID=ebe00785-db66-44d6-8ed3-86eafa63c7e4

Twproject is not affiliated in any form with Microsoft. Microsoft Project, Microsoft Exchange Share Point may be Registered Trademarks of Microsoft Corporation.

 

JasperReports from Twproject

Usability of a product and flexibility of a custom solution? Enter JasperReports!

Two main requirements for project management tools are high usability and flexibility. The former in order to win users over the tool, the latter for the data analysis side. Twproject is a finished product, constantly refined with usability in mind, but it has the unique feature of also being open for independent data querying and reporting. Read more

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Eight project management problems in search of solutions

Project management problems and solutions

Handling teamwork by project management requires expertise, skills, experience and flexibility in time. In our fifteen years of development and support of Twproject, we have found some problem patterns that are repeatedly found in teamwork management, and we have hence created corresponding solution support in Twproject. Some of the problematic patterns found are:

  1. Too much information at once
  2. Communication slip-ups
  3. Compatible with a single methodology
  4. Productivity slumps
  5. Not enough resources to run bigger projects
  6. Different apps for different things
  7. Risk of unauthorized access
  8. Task changes difficult to track

Finding solutions with Twproject

 

  • Too much information at once

    Twproject solves this by using  powerful filters and role based structures which allow users to focus only on what they are really involved in – filtering by topic and time.

  • Communication slip-ups

    E-mail notifications constantly interrupt you? Minimize the risk of productivity slumps keeping track of all your activity with Twproject. Communications is easy and collected in your tasks, reducing need for one-to-one communication by email and chats.

  • Compatible with a single methodology

    Designed to adapt to your organization’s processes, Twproject supports different methodologies: Scrum, Kanban, XP or classic waterfall. Twproject is so flexible that it lets you map projects, tasks, issues to people and customers, in the way that better fits your needs.

  • Productivity slumps

    Twproject time tracking tool lets you insert (quickly!) and monitor time spent on tasks, so that managers can check tasks progress and users can assess their own productivity.

  • Not enough resources to run bigger projects

    Use Twproject interactive Gantt to split the work into sub-tasks with achievable aims, use Twproject to assess what is most time consuming (and react when necessary), use quick messages for ad hoc communication, and last but not least – let everybody work the way they want.

    But what makes Twproject unique is that you can change project structures and assignments while production runs, without losing anything of the information introduced so far.

  • Different apps for different things

    Finally Twproject offers one login for one platform with tasks, issue tracking, time tracking, integrated agenda, shared documents and much more.

  • Risk of unauthorized access

    Twproject fully customizable roles/permissions allow users to maintain control over sensitive areas. Role based on assignments let users have different rights for different tasks.

  • Task changes difficult to track

    Twproject task progress is easy to track, statistics are always available, giving you an immediate perception of task health.

Still in doubt? Well you can try yourself with a free demo.

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Enterprise Project Management – Twproject

Twproject is a high-end project and work management tool. You have great teams, we will help you making them happier.

 

Twproject is built to adapt to your working methods and operative environment; it give you a full set of instruments to stay informed on project progress, budget, and scope creeps. Twproject facilitate work offering you the right place to “collect” information, store documents, take notes and whatever else run around a project without effort.

Be free

Twproject do not push you to use a methodology. You will be free to use a classic waterfall as well as a Agile or a Prince2 approach. No additional effort is required to use Twproject; you drive, we follow.

Above all, control

Complex projects, several teams, issues, budgets, milestones; how to keep everything under control? There is one answer only: collecting feedback, any kind of feedback (status changes, date changes, work done, issues opened, notes, discussions etc. ), from where things are done. This point is the crucial factor; only if you get actual information from the “base”, managers will have significant data to get the right decisions. This requires that your software need to be widely adopted. We spent several months to make Twproject UI nice and friendly, making it useful to every users profile. This is why Twproject has a very low “rejection” rate.

Security, not jails

Enterprises are complex; organizational charts, permissions, grants, delegations, bosses and customers. The refined security role based model covers any kind of requirements of access/visibility on projects; just assign resources on tasks and Twproject will do the rest. No effort is required to setup a security structure that fits your company needs. More than ten years of adoption success stories tell us that this it’s true!

You will be able to set access from a single sub-task to the complete project in few clicks. High security standard are used for data encryption, control access, enforce password policy, but do not duplicate you efforts if you have already setup your network security: Twproject uses your LDAP, Active directory, file servers, or DMS with one click. Read more about Twproject security here: https://twproject.com/support/security-faq/

 

Add, adapt and stretch

Every company has its own “mandatory oddities”: Twproject is built to extend the basic set of features by adding custom properties on task, issues, resources, costs and every main entity.

Users can make its dashboard “a la carte” adding its preferred widgets. Custom forms, wizards and reports will complete the set of feature Twproject  offers to fit enterprise’s needs.

More on Twproject flexibility here: https://twproject.com/support/customizations-faq/

Make your IT happy

Twproject runs everywhere. It is built on Java and run on all the most used servlet containers. “Compatibility” and “connectivity” are our keywords.

Twproject installs in minutes on every operating system. You can use your company’s preferred database. Twproject is the IT world’ preferred  product.

An easy data structure, API, schedulers, and connectors will allow you to let Twproject talk with your existing ERP, CRM and accounting systems.

Don’t have an IT or you want to spare upgrade and maintenance costs? Use our per-customer dedicated servers on Amazon cloud.

Ready to give Twproject a try?

One try is worth a million words.

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Twproject 5.5 release: project reporting, collapsible Gantt and more

Reporting, statistics, Gantt, security and much more

After less than one month from last release, here is a brand new Twproject version with exciting new features.

Reporting

Your project data are carefully collected and maintained by Twproject and this represents on of the most valuable aspect of Twproject adoption.
How can you extract your data and present it to your users? Actually Twproject has several pages with dynamic filtering capabilities that extract meaningful data, but a customizable reporting systems was missing…. until now!
On version 5.5 we have integrated Jasper Reports, one of most powerful reporting engine. Jasper reports add the capability to create your reports in minutes using an intuitive graphical editor.
Reports are integrated with the flexible Twproject security structure in an easy and practical way, without forcing users to write complex query and rules.

Here a screenshot from the report writer Jaspersoft Studio

Jasper Reports Editor

 

and a couple of reports

Jasper Custom Report: worklog by resourceJasper Custom Report: worklog by resource

Gantt

Thanks  to a contribution of “BestKen” to our open source jQuery Gantt editor (see jQuery Gantt editor – collapsible branches) this version includes a nice new feature, collapsible branches:

Collapsible Gantt

Collapsible Gantt

Statistics

On task data, there are more statistical information available: ideal trend, worklog aggregated, and worklog done

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the visual comparison between trend and aggregation makes you get at a glance the project’s “health”.

This is the first step in introducing earned value management, that will be completed in one of the forthcoming releases.

 

Repository

In this version we introduced some new features related to security.

In Twproject you can upload files on tasks, issues, resources and so on. Uploaded files are indexed, for full-text searching, and then saved to a repository.  Now you can choose between three different kinds of storage: folder, encrypted folder or database.

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In the first case uploaded files are copied as-is on a folder or network disk.

In the second case, files are encrypted using a AES key, and then saved on the same folder. File decryption is automatic when you need to access the file from Twproject, but the file itself remain encrypted on the repository. There are tools for generating AES keys and for encrypting existing files.

In the third case, files are stored on a database table as BLOB data.

Note: existing files will use its original type and will not be touched.

 

Security

  • We have introduced a seal for every document that allows you to send a link to a friend (even without having a Twproject user defined). This link will be valid for 24 hours only, so that the risk of “leaks” will be reduced. Moreover the seal keep your repository safer, making harder an url guessing attack.
  • Another minor security improvement has been introduced for the LDAP mixed authentication. This authentication modality is useful in companies where Twproject is used by internal and external users at the same time. Sometimes a large company uses the LDAP authentication to make the user’s life better, allowing a single login name and password for multiple systems (and also to have a single point for password policy management). Actually Twproject can be used not exclusively by internal users, but also by consultants or third party suppliers that are involved in projects but are not present in the LDAP server (for several good reason 🙂 ). In this case Twproject can use a fallback to its internal authentication using its internal database. Now we can force LDAP users to do not fallback; internal user MUST authenticate on LDAP, external ones will fallback.

Bugs fixed and little features:

  • full search on plan comments
  • search on agenda events using “a:…”
  • IE fix on large auto-sizing notes fields
  • fix for jdk 1.7 in some comparators
  • a stylish background, and smoother colors

 

Teamwork 5.1: Project trees and more

We just released Teamwork 5.1 (build 57001) here:

http://www.twproject.com/download.page

Contains a new view, task trees, and a subtle but important extension in functionality for “staff” selection.

This is a free upgrade for all users of version 5. There are no changes in the database structure with respect to version 5.

Task trees

Teamwork tree

Teamwork project actions Thanks to user feedback and direct experience in bootcamps, we added a tree view of tasks which is simpler to read and allows basic data editing. It has limited functionality with respect to the Gantt editor but it can be practical in many cases.

Staff & department management

We revised both the inner logic and the user interface of the resource department / group / staff theme. The modeling problem that we’ve frequently met recently for Teamwork used in large organizations is complex cases of delegation handling.

Now if you are manager of a department you can assign all those in the department (inclusive of sub departments) as now they are on your staff – without setting area-global permissions.

This makes it easier to model delegation in structures where a certain kind of project managers create work for other departments, without overriding that department resources assignments.

It can be useful in cases where you have a planning department distinct from the set of project managers that handle resource’s assignments. So the planning manager can assign tasks to a project manager that has no global company rights, but manages her own staff, i.e. the entire department she’s heading.

We also improved the use interface by removing the “staff” checkbox which made you filter resources by staff, having your staff members always as first rows in bold in combos.

Little improvements

– Gantt editor is now in full screen (relative to the browser).

– Date change and status changed request for feedbacks are active only on tasks not just created.

– See in the resource assignment part all assignments on open tasks, also those out of date scope.

Bug fixes

– Mobile module: got “undefined” when saving agenda events.

– When creating a new document file / folder selection from file storage did not work.

– Made “my open issues” and “my open severe issues” predefined filters behave similarly in task selection.

– Gantt editor: task descriptions inserted from that page were not saved.

– Fixed default language pick at startup and on options.