01 Finding a tool that works for you
At Commensura we manage the supply of temporary and contractor labour, and work in partnership with large organisations in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. As the leading UK managed service provider we create a bespoke and controlled marketplace (called c.net) in which hiring managers and recruitment agencies interact.
As Head of Development, I am responsible for our development teams and all technology-related processes and workflows. Working with Targerprocess, I came to realize how much potential there is for teams to save time by improving the collaboration and information-sharing process.
When trying to refine your process, you will still realize that even the best and most carefully crafted work process will inevitably need a software tool to support it. As someone who has been working in IT industry for over 20 years, I have rather high expectations when it comes to the decision making on which software my teams should use and why. These tools directly impact their work style, productivity, and even their mood. You cannot just pick up a tool that’s “good enough”, you have to pick a tool that you and your teams love.
Targetprocess is a visual project management tool that delivers everything our team needs in one package. The first thing I do in the morning is open up the tool, and there’s my whole agenda for the day, complete with important details and team communications.
We’ve been using Targetprocess for 7-8 years now and have grown fond of the tool. It has essentially replaced the use of emails, meetings and other tools (i.e. requirement gathering & planning tool, a test case tool, and another tool for logging bugs). During the past 4 years, we’ve really taken the system to new levels, so I would like to share our experience in the hope that it can be helpful and inspiring for other Targetprocess users or prospective customers.
02 How We Use Targetprocess
Targetprocess is completely open-ended, for example, we are able to customize the processes and workflows within the tool. Rather than changing our team's process to match the software, we change the software to match our team.
Targetprocess' email integration turns customer emails into support requests, which means my team rarely even have to open their own browser. Before Targetprocess, the team were constantly switching between different systems and now everything they need is on one screen.
We generally use Targetprocess for Agile development in a way that's probably similar to other Targetprocess users. However, there are other examples below on how we use the tool to tailor fit to our own ways of working. So, please feel free to use them as an inspiration for your own team processes.
a Meeting Minutes
We use Targetprocess to document meeting minutes and decide what actions should be taken based on the meeting decisions. You can see below how I've altered the taxonomy of a standard Targetprocess process to fit our specific needs. A release becomes the name of the meeting, features become agenda items, bugs become decisions and user stories become actions. Recurring meetings (like a steering group) can be saved as projects to reduce setup time and to categorize meetings by type.
Before Targetprocess, not everyone would read meeting summaries because they were long and it was difficult to sort out information that was relevant to individuals. Now, we use Tauboards (Targetprocess’ external view sharing functionality) to send out summaries of each meeting. These boards are real-time which means any interactions, updates and new information are visible to everybody. As soon as a meeting is complete, team members can get a visual breakdown of what happened at the meeting, and drill down for specifics.
Our process for meeting minutes makes it easy to spot details that are relevant to each team member, which means we drive a great deal of efficiency by creating a summary of each meeting. Working collaboratively, we share the board, and everyone knows where they stand and can easily find and update relevant cards.
The great thing about this, is that for any meeting we have (whether project related or not), all details, decisions, and actions can be added into Targetprocess and instantly reflected throughout our entire system. No one has to play connect-the-dots through 20 different documents to find the information they need.
Conversely, relevant details from our projects are also easy to access from our meeting boards and during our meetings. This helps cut down on actual meeting time, allowing us to get back to work quickly. Daily standups, sprint retrospectives, important project information and meetings are all connected, accessible and shown in real-time.
b Sprint Retrospectives
Our setup for Sprint Retrospectives is similar to our meetings process, but unique enough that it merits further explanation. If Scrum Sprints aren’t your thing, you can skip further below to see how we use Targetprocess to manage our customer support queue.
From this process, I can create a board which has Releases as its horizontal axis and State as its vertical axis. The cards are the successes (blue), difficulties (red), and actions (green). These cards can be moved across state when necessary, using drag and drop
This is a great way to keep up our developer morale because they see successes whenever they look at the board. They also get to watch difficulties get moved across the board as corrective action is taken, so they feel listened-to and valued.
c Support Queue:
We use Targetprocess’s default Scrum process to manage our support queue, but we’ve slightly modified the standard Request workflow to match the flow that works best for us.
For every new request, a form is created from a template for our support team to fill out. This form describes the request, tells who it is from, and what actions need to be taken to fulfill the request.
I’ve also created a prioritisation table for this form to indicate how important or urgent each request is. This table helps us to work objectively on requests and get the most urgent items completed first.
We have also added custom fields such as Person Approved By, Date of Approval, Person Checked By, and the Check Date. These fields help improve our accountability and give anyone who might need it (i.e. auditors) a full trail back to the original request.
Targetprocess’s flexible structure allows requests to easily be converted to user stories or bugs and then put into the relevant project as necessary. Being able to move requests around in this manner, while keeping relations intact and maintaining a trail to the original request, is extremely useful for our workflow from an auditing perspective both internally and externally.
At Comensura, it’s important for us to be able to consistently deliver the value, improvements, and quality that our customers demand. Software projects such as c.net, have hundreds of implementations throughout the business world, so there are no room for error. We proactively make continuous improvements to our process and services and that is why I am satisfied we have a tool that not only supports our agile culture, but also helps us enhance our process.
I believe Comensura has taken the use of Targetprocess to the next level. Our development team continue to spend most of their time using in Targetprocess and only come out of it for to complete other day to day tasks. Targetprocess has helped Comensura with our projects and working in partnership with them we are able to give continuous feedback on how they can improve their product to suit our business needs
I hope you enjoyed this article and were able to derive some new inspiration for your own project management solution. If you have any ideas for us, for our process, or for Targetprocess, I would love to hear them.
- Targetprocess was recognized as a Visionary in Gartner’s “Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Agile Planning Tools” and was included in the related “Critical Capabilities for Enterprise Agile Planning Tools”
April 2019, “Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Agile Planning Tools” **Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, express or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.
- We have been using Targetprocess for more than three years by now and still been surprised when our teams find news ways and work areas to use it...
It is really so flexible that we can nearly model and effectively use in each workflow we need. New departments request me from time to time to show them "that tool you have with nice cards :-)Jorge Rivero SanchezInnovation Director
- I love how adaptable and flexible Targetprocess is. It meets the various needs of so many different departments within our organization. We manage all of our IT, creative and legal workflow through Targetprocess. It's helped create a centralized location for our cross-department needs – as well as providing a history of our work.Katie MacCabeAssistant Director
- I used Targetprocess at some very large multi-team multi-program clients and had a consistently good experience.
I've got a lot of experience of Jira, Rally, PivotalTracker, Trello, Mingle and open source agile lifecycle management tools. I like Targetprocess better - it covers a lot more ground, the information architecture is really consistent, it's solid as a rock and fast too. Best of breed.Peter MerelCTO and Agile Coach