Howto Blog

3 months ago

#TargetprocessTips: Search, WIP Limits, Batch Actions, Workflows, Card Prioritization

We've started posting regular product tips to our social media accounts. Just search for #TargetprocessTips on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn to see some bite-sized advice on how to get the most of Targetprocess. Here’s what we’ve posted so far:

Search

Placing a ‘+’ before keywords will yield only exact matches in search results. More on search. 

  • The search bar in the the left menu is used to find a specific view or folder. The search bar to the right of this is the global search; it is used to find entities throughout the system.
  • Global search will not yield results for entities in inactive projects.
  • When using global search, you can replace any letter in your keywords with a ‘?’ to include possible misspellings in the results.

Search

WIP Limits

You can set up WIP Limits for both horizontal and vertical lanes on boards by going to view setup → Limits. Read more here. 

  • When a WIP Limit is exceeded, the state column will be visibly highlighted in red.
  • WIP Limits cannot be applied to the first (initial) state of a workflow.

WIP Limits

Timelines

On Timeline views, the global time period selector is found at the top of the view, while the local time selector is displayed at the bottom. If you're unfamiliar with Timelines, you can learn more about them here

Global Selector

More on Timelines:

  • Timelines are one of the 4 main types of views, along with Boards, Lists, and One-by-One views.
  • You can right-click on a point in the Timeline to add planned start and end dates. 
  • Planned dates are shown with a dotted line, actual dates are shown with solid background, and forecasted time is shown with a semi-transparent background.  

 

Card Prioritization

Prioritize cards on Board and List views by holding the 'Shift’ key and dragging selected cards to the desired position. If the system prevents your from applying prioritization, this guide article should explain why.

Card-Prioritization

Working with cards from multiple views:

You can use the Selected Cards Panel to work with cards from multiple views at once.

  • Since sharing this tip, we've released Batch Actions, which allows you to update multiple entities at once. However, please note that you can only apply Batch Actions to cards on a single view at once.   

Selected Cards Panel

 

Workflow customization:

Admins can rename and customize workflows and states by going to Settings → Process Setup. Read more. 

  • Be careful when editing a process that is currently in use. If you remove states which are populated by entities, the entities will be moved to a different state. 

 

process-usage

8 months ago

How to implement Agile marketing

Agile methods are being increasingly adopted by marketing departments who recognize the need to become more dynamic and responsive in today’s fluid digital landscape. Unfortunately, as is usually the case with Agile, the subject matter available online for this topic is already inundated with buzzwords and vague claims that Agile will help you improve your productivity, without many details on the practical aspects of implementation.

Agile has never been a cure-all panacea, and viewing it in this manner is destructive. However, if you can manage to dodge the endless stream of buzzwords and half-baked content marketing, you might find that agile is exactly the solution you need. Or, maybe you won’t. You won’t know until you try, but even a failed transformation will encourage new ideas and help your team to grow.  

Dodge the Buzzwords

Jurassic Park lazily reimagined with buzzwords.

Disclaimer: not all online materials regarding Agile marketing are filled with buzzwords and shallow content. Check out these articles from PWC, Flite Agile Marketing, and David Baddock for some additional perspectives.  

Implementation Strategies:

Scrum it up:

  • Hold daily Scrum meetings so that your team can share what they did yesterday, what they’ll do today, and discuss any blockers they may have.
  • Experiment with working in sprints (2-4 week iterations of highly-focused work). But, if your marketing team is small, make sure you don’t neglect work items outside the scope of your sprint. You have a lot of ground to cover.
  • Establish sprint reviews to discuss what was accomplished during the latest iteration with colleagues and stakeholders. Explain your current campaigns, review metrics, and secure internal feedback.
  • Establish regular retrospectives where your marketing team can talk among themselves about how the last iteration went, discuss team morale, review the current agenda, and make plans to improve.

Kanbanize your work:

  • Establish a Kanban board with a backlog of work and custom swimlanes (to-do, planned, in-progress, rejected, done, etc.) that reflect your process. Make sure your board is readily available online for any remote workers. Transparency and open communication are vital.
  • Experiment with using WIP (work-in-progress) limits to maintain quality and focus. Multi-tasking is a myth.  
  • Every time you move a card further into the workflow, circle back and try to think about the item from the point of view of your target demographic.
  • Consider making it required for team members to leave a comment on work items every time they advance it further into the workflow. This is not for the purpose of documenting work for management. It should be an introspective practice to help each team member stop and reflect on the item. Marketers tend to be in a rush, which leaves room for mistakes.
  • Use visual encoding to make your board easier to comprehend. Color code according by responsible person, task category (social media, blog posts, SEO), or level of work (Task, User Story, Epic).
  • Planning your work to deliver “just-in-time” can help you to avoid the pitfalls of Parkinson’s Law (i.e. work expands to fill the amount of time allotted to complete it).
  • On the same token, when you make estimates, make sure you give yourself some extra time for securing feedback from colleagues.
  • Don’t let “almost done” work items pile up. Prioritize the items that deliver real value, produce an MVP (minimum viable product), share it with team members for feedback, refine the work, and finish the task.

Definition of Done

Test, measure, repeat:

  • Focus on small iterations and actionable new ideas over “big-splash” campaigns and unrealistic goals.
  • Actively test new strategies, stick with what works, and repeat the process
  • Fail faster. Don’t be afraid to drop a tactic that’s not working, no matter how much effort has already been put in.  
  • Never miss a chance to gather metrics on your campaigns. Using tools like Google’s URL Builder can help you measure what links are driving the most traffic to your website. Google Analytics (or some form of it) is an absolute must.
  • Data’s useless if it you can’t understand it. Make sure you take the time to properly analyze it. Consider using a data visualization software, such as Vizydrop (our free side-product, also integrated with Targetprocess) or Tableau (a great SaaS product with 14 day free trial).  

Facilitate collaboration and feedback:

  • Establish an internal communication channel for feedback and suggestions. Use this channel to encourage employee engagement on important social media posts to increase post reach and demonstrate brand community to your audience.
  • Make it easy for colleagues to contribute their thoughts to your brand. Get in the habit of asking for blog posts from other departments. Initiate conversations with quiet team members to get their perspective.
  • Establish a practice of bringing in one member from another team every week to contribute their ideas to your campaigns. You’d be surprised how many good ideas people keep to themselves, and it’s enormously helpful to get insight from a domain outside of your own.
  • Add a feedback widget to your online content. A simple “Was this article helpful?” can go a long way to securing metrics on what was most effective, and what areas need improvement.
  • As a marketer, you shouldn’t be managing social media, but rather facilitating it. Do what you can to make social media an organic process that everyone contributes to. Consider holding an internal workshop to establish guidelines.
  • If possible, integrate your social media channels with your internal communication tool. Create a public channel where all posts will appear so that everyone in the company can contribute.

Take and manage risks:

  • Establish a rotating Risk Management role. Assign one person per month to dedicate some of their time to actively seeking out new risks (threats and opportunities). Have this individual act as a devil’s advocate (see “10th man rule”) during meetings. This role can reduce the potential for groupthink and help your team stay responsive without damaging their focus. It will also help your team members grow their personal perspective.
  • Give your team the freedom to try new things. You’ll never get ahead of the competition by sticking with strategies you read on LinkedIn. Don’t copy innovation; be the innovation. If you fail, it’s no big deal; at least you learned.
  • Experiment on social media. A post that goes through two management gateways before being approved probably won't push anyone's buttons or make you stand out. Copying the style of competitors is similarly safe, but will leave your brand looking average at best. Don't be afraid to try new social channels and tinker with your brand voice.

Stop working so hard:

  • You can’t expect your audience to enjoy your content if you don’t even enjoy creating it. Make sure your team is happy with their jobs, and comfortable with the domain.  
  • At Targetprocess, we use Orange Time (optional time to work on self-education and side projects) to encourage employees to stay engaged at work and learn how to do their jobs better.
  • Eliminate Muri (excessively hard work) from your routine. If there are some necessary tasks which your team finds excessively difficult, try approaching the work from a different angle, or use Orange Time to learn how to better facilitate the tasks.
  • Measure your working habits, and try new personal strategies. I personally lose focus during the last hour of the work day. I no longer try to do difficult tasks during this window. Instead, I use this time for education, drafting tomorrow’s social media posts, and connecting with colleagues.

How to change your culture

Agile is not about what tool you use or what framework you adhere to; it’s almost wholly about your mindset and culture. Agile transformations need to happen both in the minds of your team members and in the actions of your management hierarchy. Changing the way people think is a monumental task, but there are some themes you can use to encourage this mental shift.

Focus on delivering value:

Many marketers have an unhealthy obsession with lead generation. Website traffic is driven by constant visibility via content marketing, social media, and good-old-fashioned spam. Of course, lead generation is vital for any business, but developing tunnel vision for this activity is dangerous. These lead-generation methods will not lose their relevance anytime soon, but the motivation behind executing them should revolve around delivering value.

Take some inspiration from journalism: deliver valuable information to your audience and empower them to make the best possible decision in order to make them feel like valued members of your brand community. Demonstrate the value of your product by delivering some of that value through your campaigns.

 

Encourage freedom, responsibility, and trust:

If your company has a solid culture of trust, giving employees more freedom will enable them to be more responsible.  For example: you might not like the fact that your employees use Facebook at work, but you probably won’t get upset when they respond to a late night message on your company’s social channels.

As Michael Dubakov said in his his recent article on the future of Targetprocess: "A culture of trust in your company will slowly return a person’s trust in themselves, encouraging them to experiment and make mistakes."

If you can trust your team to be responsible, give them the freedom to work in the way that works best for them. Without this trust, freedom has the potential to backfire, so make sure you’re honest with yourself about the state of your company culture.

Dilbert Understands

 

Pitfalls to avoid

  • Lack of trust between team members
  • Lack of shared vision
  • Lack of transparency and communication
  • Securing metrics but not using them
  • Disregarding feedback and metrics in favor of your "gut instinct"
  • Assuming that your management tool or process will guide the transformation for you

These are just my personal thoughts on how to bring an Agile mindset to your marketing and public relations campaigns. If you have any strategies of your own, I'd love to hear them in the comments.

2 years ago

How to derive greater value from Targetprocess and boost the productivity of your agile teams

We know that learning how to use a piece of software and mastering all of its features and little details can take time -- especially when new updates and functionalities are continuously being released. So, to fully synchronize your teams with Targetprocess and unlock its true potential, we offer onsite workshops with our product specialists that can be held right in your office.  

Workshops run for 3-5 days, and everyone will walk away with the tools they need to crank up their productivity with Targetprocess. Every workshop is different, but there are a few things you can expect to see (depending on your specific needs and current level of experience).

If you’re just starting out with Targetprocess or need to add new users to an existing account:

The new user training is the best way to kickstart your collaboration and get all your team members on the same page.

  • Our product specialists will analyze your organization’s workflows, structure, goals, and overall process to determine how your teams’ can use Targetprocess to achieve the best possible collaboration.  
  • Our specialists will set up your Targetprocess environment to support your unique process and workflows.
  • User training in the form of group workshops and individual consulting will be given so everyone understands how they can use Targetprocess to support their individual roles and better collaborate with team members.  
  • After all questions have been answered and everyone is set up in their roles, we’ll collect feedback and compile a custom “getting started guide” for your teams based on the results of the workshop.

Advanced training:

It often happens that, after you have used your project management software for some time, your team has grown, workflows have changed, projects have become more complex and the tool itself has grown in functionality which is unfamiliar to both the original team and to new team members on your side. Or, perhaps you’ve mastered the fundamentals of Targetprocess and wish to take your use to the next level. Either way, our onsite advanced training is the best way to charge up your teams and boost their productivity.  

  • We’ll do a health-check on your Targetprocess environment to learn what areas our training should target and how we can fine-tune the software to work best with your process.
  • We will deliver group workshops and individual consulting aimed at helping everyone to master the new functionalities and further develop their use of Targetprocess to fully support their individual roles.
  • You’ll receive custom-made solutions for your teams that match their specific needs and your organization’s process.
  • When everyone is confident that they’re now a Targetprocess wizard, we’ll collect feedback and compile a custom user guide for your teams based on the results of the workshop.

To get the feel of how an onsite workshop can help both new users and your veteran team members, read a summary of our recent workshop at Caterpillar Inc.

Some possible topics for onsite workshops:

  • How to bring people in different roles up to speed and help them unleash the potential of Targetprocess for their specific role  
  • How to configure Targetprocess to reflect your organization structure and to effectively support your custom processes and workflows
  • How Targetprocess can be used to enable full visibility across multiple teams and different processes, including Development, QA, Resource Management and Product Portfolio Management

We work hard to help people create great things together using Targetprocess.  We want to help your teams excel, so let us show you how you can get more value out of the software!

To request an onsite workshop for your company, click on the link that’s most relevant to you:

Please note, you can customize the agenda, duration and other details - contact your Targetprocess Product Specialist!

3 years ago

Upcoming feature: Hierarchical Test Plans

Sometimes, when managing testing activities, two levels of hierarchy - test plans and their child test cases - is not enough to organize your tests. Starting in version 3.5.0, you can organize test cases into hierarchical test plans; this means that you’ll have the ability to include a test plan into a higher level test plan, which themselves can be a part of an even higher level test plan, and have test cases reside at the lowest level.

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 20.03.10

Why do we need it?

Now you can organize test cases in a test plan into groups (lower level test plans) based on many different parameters, such as - only to name a few - different types of testing (smoke and regression tests, for example), test case priority to specify which groups need to be executed first and which last, or by user story (thus creating a user story test plan) to see which user story every single test belongs to during execution. Having the capability of linking existing test plans, you can now create a new test plan for every single iteration, release, or feature, for example, and link your existing test plans to them. This allows you to execute test plans multiple times in different releases, iterations, or features and see the run results. There are many different approaches as to how you can use it.

Where to start

Let’s take a closer look. To create a hierarchical test plan, you can either add a new test plan to another plan at any level using the quick add button or select an already existing test plan using the lookup on a test plan view. In a similar fashion, you can create new test cases or link existing ones.

Untitled_3
Moving test cases and test plans around, you can easily re-organize your data to have a more efficient and manageable structure.

Untitled_2

To unlink or delete a test case ot a test plan right click to use the context menu:

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 20.46.30

When a hierarchical test plan is ready to be executed, we create a test plan run and see the same structure within it. This allows to stay focused on the right child test plan run during its execution.

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 20.52.04 2

Every child test plan run can be assigned to people, which allows to break a test plan run execution into several parts and assign each portion to different people. Here, in the same list, you can also close a child test plan run if the execution is completed. Having this view allows you to see what groups of tests have already been executed and which are still in progress.

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 19.48.41 2

Having test plans selected as lanes, you can see child test cases and plans selected as cards.

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 20.10.16 2

When you have test plans shown as cards or lanes on a view and you don’t want to see any child test plans, you can use a filter ‘?ParentTestPlan.Count == 0’ to hide them.

We’ve also updated the Last Run Result unit which you may use to be shown on cards to see the results. Now, it shows the results of the last test plan run related to a test plan, not the last run results of every test case inside a test plan. This allows you to reuse existing test cases and plans instead of copying them every time you need to execute them and still have the appropriate information shown as its result.

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 20.12.53 4

Check the following video to get more information on how to use this new QA area in Targetprocess 3:

We believe these changes will allow you to organize your test cases and test plans in a better way. Let us know what you think. Your feedback is much appreciated!

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