Blog

6 days ago

New Help Desk beta is now available

Our new Help Desk beta is now available.

Yes, available not planned, expected, or hoped for. We know that some of you have been waiting a very, very long time for this. We’ve promised it many times, started it several times, but so far have failed to deliver. This time, we have something real for you.

If you are half as excited as we are and can’t wait another 3-5 minutes to know all the details, you can scroll down to FAQ section (though, we encourage you to read on).

Rebranding

The possibilities we are planning to provide go way beyond software support. It is already more than just a Help Desk, and future improvements will make the old name too confusing, potentially hiding the possible benefits from you. We decided to use a different name for it: Service Desk, which is a more general term. Don’t worry; if you refer to it as the new Help Desk or Help Desk v.3, we’ll still know what you’re talking about.

Functionality that is ready:

The first thing we had to do is match the functionality of our previous version of Help Desk, so that you don’t have to worry about making a decision on whether you want to sacrifice certain features in order get the newer version. Just like Help Desk, the Service Desk allows you to:

  • submit public and private Issues, Ideas or Questions
  • search and vote for them
  • track the status of requests and related items
  • add comments
  • upload attachments

These features are foundation that we built off of. Service Desk is still in progress, but we’ve made some nice improvements that we can proudly share with you:

A better UI

The original Help Desk portal was released in 2008. It was a decent software back then, and almost 20% of the company development force was allocated to it (at the time, this was a total of 1 person). Over time, the software began to become outdated. We did a face-lift on the program about a year ago, which helped a little but in order to move forward, we knew we had to throw everything away and start from scratch.

hdbeta_ui

Project Filter

It might sound basic, but our old Help Desk did not allow you to apply a filter to see requests from a particular project. Now, you can.

hdbeta_project_filter

Description preview

As you know, the name of a request does not always give you a clue as to what it is about. Instead of wasting time opening such requests, you can now see part of the description directly on the request’s card. You can even preview images! We hope this will help you to save time while looking for a specific request or trying to get an overview of what’s in the system.  

Last official reply

Similar to the previous change, we now also show the last comment submitted by someone in Targetprocess directly on the card. We may improve this further, perhaps by adding the ability to “pin” important replies (such as an official effort estimation for an Idea), but that would depend on your feedback.

Hierarchical Comment Trees

Just like in Targetprocess (well, and many other applications too, to be honest), you can have a structured discussion by replying to a particular comment.

hdbeta_comment_tree

Login as a Targetprocess user

A lot of folks were confused when they tried to access the Help Desk, but their password from Targetprocess did not work. This happened because Targetprocess users and Help Desk requesters were different users, and you needed to sign up outside of Targetprocess to access the Help Desk. Now, you can login to the Service Desk with your Targetprocess email and password. In future, you won’t even have to worry about it, if you’re already logged in to Targetprocess on your computer.

Please note that Targetprocess users and Service Desk users are still separate in the beta release, but we are planning to merge them and transfer all requests to the main Targetprocess user. If that could potentially be a bad thing for you, now is the right time to let us know.

Custom fields

This is a big one. You can significantly increase the number of possible use cases and scenarios with the help of custom fields. However, we know that you might not want to always display all fields, since they may contain sensitive internal information. That is why the fields are white-listed you define which fields should be available for users to fill out, and which fields should remain hidden.

hdbeta_custom_fields

 

Some minor things

We’ve made several more small improvements to the system. Issues will now be submitted as private entities by default, and the ordering of comments has changed to allow you to place either the oldest or most recent comments at the top.

What’s next?

Certainly, we are not planning to stop with what we already have. Apart from polishing things here and there, we plan to make the software more customizable in order to give it the potential to support even more scenarios and business cases. We will allow you to add your own custom request types, not just Issues, Questions, and Ideas. Each of them can have their own personalized “add-request” form with a separate set of fields and predefined data. After all, a request to your IT department to replace a broken mouse is very different from a high level Marketing Project Request. Combine this new functionality with the flexibility and power of Targetprocess, and you’ll have a solution capable of tackling a dynamic array of challenges. It will also be possible to customize the look and feel of the Service Desk with your own logo and custom theme uploaded.

By the way, we already tried it at the 2016 Gartner PPM & IT Governance Summit in London this June, and it proved to be a valuable addition to our Project Portfolio Management solution when used as an entry point for Project Requests.

 

FAQ:

Q: Wow, I want to try that out ASAP! How can I get one?

A: You can activate it from General Settings in Targetprocess, right under the old Help Desk configuration. You need administrator permissions to do so. 

sd_registration_mashup

Important: In this beta the configuration area you see above is a sort of prototype. It works fine for initial setup, but it does not "remember" the settings you entered before. You can still use it to update the mode or  list of custom fields, but you would have to enter all the settings from scratch. You can also contact support@targetprocess.com and we'll take care of that. Don’t worry, this is just a temporary obstacle; we’ll be adding a real Settings page soon.

Q: I have an onsite (on premise) version of Targetprocess. Can I try it out now?

A: Not yet, sorry. We are running it on our hosted environment so that we can monitor and fix issues on the fly. Once we’ve had a chance to make sure everything runs smoothly,  we’ll support local installations as well.

Q: Will I have to pay for Service Desk?

A: No, just like the previous version of Help Desk, Service Desk comes free with your Targetprocess account. You do not have to pay for deployment or requesters.

Q: Can I use it without Targetprocess?

A: No, Targetprocess is required for using Service Desk. Besides, we recommend support staff or whoever is processing the requests to work from Targetprocess, not Service Desk All administration, merging, and state-changing is done from Targetprocess. By the way, here is a nice article on how you can use Targetprocess for customer support: https://www.targetprocess.com/guide/helpdesk-portal/how-to-use-targetprocess-for-support/

Q: I have a question, issue or suggestion.

A: That’s great! We would be happy if you shared it with us. You can use the feedback button right in the app, and the message will go directly to our team. You can also go to our own instance of Service Desk  at https://helpdesk.targetprocess.com, pick Service Desk Feedback as a product, and submit a ticket. Alternatively, you can always reach our support team via support@targetprocess.com.

6 days ago

Targetprocess v.3.10.0: Cumulative Flow Diagram, Entity Split, Emojis

New Cumulative Flow Diagram

A lot of people have been waiting a very long time for this. We're sorry it took so long, but we had to make sure it was done right. The old solution wasn't good enough, but now we have a solution that we think you'll really appreciate:

  • It is fast
  • It is detailed - you can see all entity states
  • It is interactive - you can hide states and explore dynamics within the selected time period
  • It can be included on a Dashboard

Check out the CFD user guide page to get all the details

CFD

Entity Split

From now on, it will be possible to split entities of several types in Targetprocess: Epics, Features, User Stories, Bugs, Tasks, and Requests.

For example: when your Team is doing Backlog grooming and decides that some work assigned to the current Feature should be moved to the next Iteration or Release, you can choose to split the Feature into two entities and plan the second one for another Release.

img2

On the split form, you can see and edit entity properties such as State, Business Value, Epic, Release, and others.

img6

For more details, please see the User Guide article on How to Split Entities.

More Batch Actions

Finally, you can assign a user to multiple items!

Starting with v.3.10.0, you can apply a lot more changes to a set of cards. Move several items to another Project; change their Release, Sprint, or Team Sprint; update the drop-down Custom Fields; change their parent Feature or User Story; assign several entities at once to a user.

batch assign

Emoji in Tags and left menu

Have you ever had problems sorting through all the boards and views in the left menu?  Us too. It can definitely get cluttered in there, especially when the menu is minimized and only showing the preset icons.

That's why we're adding support for emojis in Targetprocess. Don't underestimate their power. They can make classifying and quickly identifying your views a breeze. Just mark your views with the appropriate emoji icon, and watch the left menu fill up with cheerful (and quickly decipherable) symbols:

Mon Sep 19 2016-1

You can also mark your stories and other entities using emojis by adding them as tags:

Mon Sep 19 2016

Emojis can also be used to improve visual encoding by adding them as Graphic Tags. Graphic Tags can be added to the smallest card size in all views. Board icons and the Graphic Tags custom unit on cards can be added from View Setup.

custom grafic tag unit

Restyled Lists

In version 3.10.0, we've made List views look more like a table. Every column has a translucent separator. Dragging this separator adjusts column width.

grid list

 

Redesigned View settings

We’ve made the UI for views a little less cluttered by moving several controls to the Actions menu. If you need to switch to a different view mode, hide empty lanes, or change the zoom level for cards, just open the Actions menu and select the appropriate option.

View setup

Minor Features

  • Bugzilla Integration Plugin: Map bug fields to Bugzilla custom fields
  • Test Run Import plugin: FTPS resources supported

Fixed Bug

  • Dropdown custom field name is listed as a value in a quick add
  • Mylyn connector updated to work with Targetprocess versions above 3.9.0
  • Fixed Screen Capture Extension: Login doesn't work correctly
7 days ago

12 ways to improve cross-office collaboration

Successful collaboration requires trust. It’s hard enough to establish that bond of trust when someone works in the same room as you. This challenge becomes exponentially more difficult when you have teams collaborating from multiple locations. Throw in a few different timezones, some cultural differences, and language barrier... and you have one hell of a challenge on your hands. Don’t despair though. Most people want to work well together. Sometimes, the distance just makes it difficult. 

Here at Targetprocess, we have teams working all over the world. Most of the time, that’s a great thing. When teams collaborate, we are able to apply a global perspective to our work. However, the distance does create some obstacles. These obstacles help your teams to grow, but only if you tackle them appropriately. After 10 years of collaborating across oceans and timezones, we have some pretty good ideas on how to attack the problems that can be caused by working in different locations.

Video > Chat

  • It’s better to have a short video or phone call with a colleague than to go back and forth in your internal chat for 10 minutes (especially if there’s a disagreement about something).
  • Communicating through video allows you see the subtle emotions and facial expressions which you might have otherwise missed. Text-based communication lacks the full context of face-to-face conversation.
  • Careful though: don’t schedule meetings for things that could be accomplished with a simple email (or, better yet, a comment on a work item in Targetprocess)
  • Make sure you have solid equipment for video chats, and that you pick the right tool for your situation. For example: Lifesize is much better than Skype for large group meetings. For smaller meetings, we use GoToMeeting.
  • Some companies have experimented with putting up live televisions in all of their offices. This won't be practical for everyone, and could even be invasive for some, but it's nice having the option to see the rest of your teams. You could experiment with this during retrospectives, or even during co-scheduled company parties.

Mind the timezone

  • It seems like a basic rule, but it’s one of the most consistent issues for distributed teams. Whenever you ask for feedback, set up a meeting, plan when you’ll be able to send over some requested work, etc., make sure you pay attention to what timezone your colleagues are in and how it could potentially affect their response or next action.
  • If you’re a habitual procrastinator, be extra-mindful of this step. You’ll have less time to do things at the last minute if you wake up at the end of your colleague's work day.
  • Trying to keep track of meetings and appointments without a digital aid will inevitably lead to disaster. Use an online calendar that can think about those kind of things for you. We use ScheduleOnce to help our C-level employees and Sales team set up and keep track of meetings. Customers and leads can automatically check their availability and request a meeting. All of our employees are on Google Calendar (ScheduleOnce integrates with Google Calendar), so we can all view each other’s internal availability with ease.
  • Be polite about non-urgent communications outside of business hours. It seems like hardly anybody works regular hours these days, but it’s important to be mindful about what time it is when you contact colleagues.
  • Have a clear and automatic system for indicating when/if you’re available outside of regular business hours. Slack handles this for us: when someone is active on Slack, the dot next to their name turns green. This dot can be deactivated if you’re online but not available, and you can even add a time-dependent “Zzz” to indicate times that you’d prefer to not be disturbed.
    Working Across Timezones

    "Hey Dan, do you think you could send me those TPS reports real quick?"

Broaden your discussions

  • A key element of collaboration is friendship. I know, this sounds lame, but it’s inescapably true. The ability to chat about the news at lunch, or to bounce ideas back and forth with your desk neighbor provides a huge amount of mental stimulation and gives you a wider perspective for your daily work. It’s impossible to completely replicate the closeness of an office environment, but you can get pretty close by discussing new movies, music, current events (it’s probably best to stay away from politics though), and even family life. For example: did you recently get a cute new puppy? Bring her in for your next cross-office video meeting! She can have a temporary position as your Chief Happiness Officer.
  • Recognize and share any cultural differences you might have with team members. For myself: it's been quite interesting to see my colleagues' social media posts of cities, neighborhoods, and parks all over the world.
  • Everyone can appreciate a funny meme or Youtube video. Encourage the practice of sharing these things across offices (but don’t let this practice turn into procrastination).

Use a real-time work management solution

  • Obviously, we use Targetprocess to manage our work. All of our teams and departments are in the system, so everything can be managed and viewed from a central place. All data is displayed in real-time, and integrations with email and Slack make communication a breeze.
  • Transparency is important here. If many of your boards are private and only accessible to managers or the assigned teams, then a lot of the power of your management tool will remain untapped. Make sure that important information is accessible to everyone.
  • If you’re collaborating with someone outside of your organization (such as stakeholders or customers), find a way to share real-time information from your management solution. At Targetprocess, we use the Share View mashup for this.

Standardize your work storage and communication practices

  • Make sure everyone understands your organization’s “filing system” and knows where to put new things, where to find old things, and how to properly catalogue items. Ideally, your work management solution should satisfy this requirement, but it’s still wise to actively manage your company’s additional storage areas (e.g. Google Drive).
  • Establish a consistent, central place to document meetings and important decisions. Make sure this a real-time source, so you don’t have to worry about managing multiple versions of information. Your work management solution should ideally be able to manage this activity as well.  
  • Try to stick to a common language, even if you’re having a private one-on-one chat. After all, you might have to copy text over to a public channel. If you’re talking on the phone in a different language than your local colleagues are used to, try to have the conversation in private to avoid distracting anyone.  
  • Beware of document deprecation! There’s few things more frustrating and wasteful than hunting for a specific document, doing work based on the information inside of it, only to discover that the document is obsolete and the current version is in a different folder that you didn’t even think to look through. Avoid creating multiple versions of documents. If you do have multiple versions, make sure you label them correctly and delete/archive any obsolete items.
  • Understand what medium of internal communication is best for your current objective. Need an answer from a colleague for a yes or no question? Send them a message in your internal chat. Need a comprehensive report on the results of last week's company meeting? Send your request in an email. Need to kick off a new marketing campaign, or get detailed help on a work item? Create an entity in Targetprocess and tag your colleague so they receive a concise email notification. 
  • Establish automated communication for regular updates. For example: we have a bot in one of our Slack channels that lets us know when builds are being pushed to servers.

Borrow team members for meetings and projects

  • This one is simple enough. If your sales teams in Europe and North America are having a remote meeting, bring in a developer from both locations. The intersection of different teams from different locations will help to facilitate better understanding between offices and departments. Two birds, one stone.
  • If your marketing team is working on a new campaign, bring in someone from QA to give feedback. They might bring in a new perspective that you hadn’t even considered. Worst case scenario: they go back to the QA team with a better understanding of what marketing does all day, and they share this knowledge with their team.

Leverage social media

  • Many companies seem to have lost the original idea behind social media. It’s a great tool for publicizing your product and building your brand, but nobody wants to be on a platform that’s just filled with marketers and bots sending tracked links to each other (just look at the steady decline of Twitter). The purpose of social media is to connect. Connecting with your employees on social media will help you establish better connections with your customers.
  • Encourage everyone to lose their fear of social media. Active and fearless posting from your teams will help to unite your company across offices, as well as display a great example of your company to your followers and customers.
  • If you haven’t already, create a company Instagram. Don’t just recycle your Twitter posts into this platform; post pictures of your office, of your team eating lunch together, your company picnic, or even your employee pets. This might be one of the only opportunities your teams may have to explore the lives of their colleagues. An Instagram can be good for your brand, but it can also be great for your company’s sense of community.

    Our teams meet at the cabin — from the Targetprocess Instagram

  • Your marketing team doesn’t have to handle all of your social media tasks. Encourage your teams to create Pinterest boards to share their hobbies and interests. It’s generally better for these things to be work-related, but it’s also good to step outside of the box from time to time.
  • You may have to take the initiative to get these internal social campaigns started, but they can be a great morale booster if the idea takes hold. It will also help to drive engagement on company posts; your employees are one of the greatest assets you have for increasing this metric.

Never stop paying attention to presence disparity

  • Try to imagine what team members outside of the room are thinking and feeling. If remote colleagues aren’t participating as much in your meetings, they might be feeling left out... or perhaps it’s the end of the work day in their timezone, and they’ve already checked out. You have to think about these things with a critical mind at all times.
  • Avoid consistently “short-sticking” anybody. For example: just because your Australian office is small doesn’t mean that they should be the ones to wake up at an obscene time to catch meetings.
  • Working remotely is great, but it can get lonely. Even worse, it can be technically isolating. If you don’t have solid communication practices built up at your company, you run the risk of leaving your remote workers with an information gap that will impede them from performing their jobs.
  • Before every meeting, make certain that everyone can hear and see everybody else. Work with the equipment you have to reduce the feelings of isolation that can come with attending a meeting remotely.
    Presence Disparity

Meet in person

  • This won’t always be a feasible option, but if you can afford the time and travel cost, meeting your colleagues face-to-face can have an incredible effect on how well you are able to collaborate when working remotely.
  • Meeting someone in person adds a whole new layer of depth to a working relationship. You might discover shared interests and common pain points.
  • When a new team member joins Targetprocess, we try to allocate some budget to allow everyone to get to know each other. In general, it’s good to exchange people between offices for 2-4 weeks every 1-2 years.
  • Trips across the ocean can’t happen too often, but at the very least, we will organize some initial cross-office interaction between teams on the same continent.

Organize team presentations

  • Have your teams put together regular presentations where they can discuss what they do for your organization.
  • Have one team member per month write a personal bio about how they came to work for your organization, what their strong points/weak points, and a little bit about their personal life and hobbies. This could even be a jumping board into publishing employee bios on your organization’s blog to help humanize your company to customers.

Find out how your teams feel about communication between offices

  • Send out an optional survey to "take your teams' temperature" and identify any common problems.
  • Hold a focus group with team leaders from each office or department. Come up with some ways to simplify, improve, or even automate communication across offices and departments.
  • Gauge the efficacy of your internal company chat. Decide if you need to archive some excess channels, or maybe add some new ones to reflect your current strategy.

Experiment

  • Try new things. Most changes will at least have a positive short-term effect on your teams, especially if the idea came from within. Don't be afraid to try out a new strategy.

In the end, there’s honestly no easy 12-step program to achieving better collaboration. Everything eventually comes down to trust. Do you trust your colleagues to treat you with respect?  Do you trust that your remote workers aren’t just lounging in a pool somewhere? Do you trust everyone to work responsibly and select work items that will benefit the organization? If the answer to any of these questions is no, you might want to take a broader look at your company’s culture, hiring process, and overall goals to see what is going wrong and what you can do to improve. In a successful culture, trust will automatically breed responsibility and independence.

Dilbert

4 weeks ago

Targetprocess v.3.9.3: Keyboard shortcuts, Owner as a lane

Keyboard shortcuts

We've finally implemented keyboard shortcuts into Targetprocess. You can review all the available shortcuts by pressing: "ctrl" + "/"  (or, "cmd" + "/"  for Macs).

Keyboard Shortcuts

There are currently 3 places in Targetprocess where shortcuts are available: views (Boards, Lists, Timelines, One-by-one views), entity views (the screen that appears when you open a card), and Quick Add popups. You can read more about keyboard shortcuts at this User Guide page.

Owner as a lane

We’ve added the possibility to include an Owner lane when setting up a view. This means you can now build views that group entities by the person who created them. Users with admin permissions can easily change the owner using drag and drop. Owners in lanes are filtered by the projects and teams currently selected in the global context.
owner_lane

Minor Updates and Fixed Bugs

  • Added a view menu search placeholder and a "no results" search message
  • Fixed an error that would occur when trying to run a Test plan owned by a deleted project from the Team Iteration view
  • Fixed the absence of required custom fields in the project/program context quick add form
  • Fixed a problem with incorrect card counts in the Person lane when there are multiple user assignments
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