This is the second post in the series about Attribute types in Lumeer. In the first post, we introduced the concept of Attribute types. Now we are going to look closer at two of them: Number and Percentage.
You can of course enter numerical values into the column even if the type is not set at all (equal to set to None) or Text. Also, you will be able to perform calculations on those values – similarly to how you would do in a spreadsheet. However, the number attribute gives you more power over the integrity of the values.
Let’s demonstrate this on an example: We have this table containing data about projects:
Remaining portion is calculated as following: (Budget – Spent)/Budget
If we have budget 1500 and spent 300, the remaining portion will of course be 0.8:
But what happens if we enter 1000 and “abc”? Well, the result cannot be calculated and “NaN” (not a number) is displayed.
“abc” is an invalid value. We don’t want invalid values in our data, but mistakes can happen, especially if multiple people work with the same table. Setting the attribute type to Number solves the problem – if somebody tries to enter an invalid value, they just cannot proceed. If the value was entered before the type was set, it is highlighted (red underline) as invalid so you can easily spot and fix such an irregularity.
The next thing you can enforce with the Number type is that the values are from a certain range. Just set the minimum and/or maximum. The behaviour for invalid values is the same – old ones are highlighted, new ones cannot be saved.
The Percentage type works in the same way as the Number type (the value actually is a number), the only difference is that Lumeer treats the values as fractions and displays them as percents. As a result, instead of the following table
you would see:
It’s just a visual change, but if you look at a list of projects, there is a high chance that you will be able to process the information faster if you see percentage instead of a decimal number.
And what can you do with numbers and percentages?
First, as we already mentioned, they can act as a function input (see manual on functions for more detail).
Second, you can display their values in a chart perspective. We first add a couple more values to the table:
And then configure the chart:
Thirdly, you can aggregate values across the rows in a pivot table. This complex pivot table comparing stock vs. demand of items across multiple depots is from Lumeer’s Supply chain management template:
Last but not least, you can use the percentage value to display tasks progress in timeline view. If we switch this table from Project tracker template
to a timeline view and configure it, you see tasks’ progress in each row (it is displayed in darker green):
In the next article, we will look at the Date and Duration attribute types.
When we think and process data from outside world in our brains, we automatically use different processes depending on what the data represents.
Consider following examples:
- If you see “data + processing”, you will join those two words into phrase “data processing”. But if you see “2 + 3”, you will perform mathematical addition and get “5”, rather than “23”, won’t you?
- If somebody asks you “What is your favourite color?”, your response will be “blue” or “red” or other color name instead of “table”, won’t it?
- If the first task takes you 1 hour and 30 minutes to complete and the second task takes 1 hour and 40 minutes, you will say that together it took 3 hours and 10 minutes instead of 2 hours and 70 minutes, won’t you?
These answers probably seem completely obvious and logical to you and you wouldn’t even consider that table is a color or say that something took 2 hours and 70 minutes. But computers and therefore software tools don’t naturally possess the ability to think this way. Try calculating sum of “1h30m” and “1h40m” in a spreadsheet and you won’t even get “2h70m”, but a zero:
The spreadsheet knows nothing about what this sequence of numbers and letters means. Therefore it is very difficult, even impossible, to sufficiently capture your company’s processes in most of the available software tools (including widely used spreadsheets).
To work with your data effectively and automate your processes, Lumeer lets you enter anything and tell him what it is. Sometimes he even figures it out himself and gives you a suggestion.
Once Lumeer is sure about what do you intend to store in your tables, he provides you the best treatment for your information.
So how to tell Lumeer what does the data mean? To do that, we introduced Attribute types. That means that you can set the type not just for one value, but for the whole column at once!
Our knowledge base contains the list of supported attribute types, instructions on how to set a type and available options for each type. However, in our blog, we will cover attribute types more extensively in terms of how you can take advantage of them in different perspectives. The series contains following articles:
- number + percentage
- address + coordinates (coming soon)
- selection + checkbox + color (coming soon)
- text + file + user (coming soon)
While managing a project, you might run across the need to have a temporary contractor and yet you need to monitor the progress and tasks of all contractors.
On the other hand, you do not want to share your secret sauce – information about the project, how you lead it, who do you work with, what are the costs etc.
Now you might be thinking of creating a spreadsheet template and sharing it with the contractors. Later, you would collect and copy’n’paste all the information together.
STOP! There is a much better and easier way!
Fortunately, Lumeer is at hand. With its precise access rights control and the default “zero sharing” policy (do not share anything), it gives you the possibility to share just the minimal piece of information.
In Lumeer, you can easily create a hierarchical structure of all employees and contractors using the Indent context menu item.
To bind the employees with their user accounts in Lumeer, we add an E-mail column and set its Attribute type to User.
Now, we can fill in the user e-mails. We are guided by Lumeer in that.
Let’s invite a contractor (whose user e-email is firstname.lastname@example.org) using the green Invite button in the top right corner. We do not need to be afraid, the newly invited user won’t see anything in the project (remember the default zero sharing policy).
The new user can now sign in to Lumeer but won’t see anything. Let’s prepare a view with the data this contractor could see.
We must filter the visible rows according to the currently logged in user. For that we add a filter to the search query at to top of the page.
Now we can share this view with the contractor by using the Share button next to the view name. And we’ll allow the contractor to read and write data.
When the contractor logs in to Lumeer, he can see just this single view and only data relevant to their tasks.
The contractor can now safely view, edit and add their relevant data so we can use them in reporting for instance.
We can easily collaborate with external contractors without the fear of ever leaking our precious information and know-how. Also, while having your data in Lumeer, you are GDPR compliant.
As we stated in the first part about Waterfall, we are going to investigate the most popular project management methodologies with the aim to identify potential risks, share our experience from the real life and provide insights on what to keep an eye on.
Methodology 2: Agile
The Agile Manifesto originated as a response to shortcomings of the Waterfall model. The need was to address the linear sequential process in order to keep up with the ever more dynamic markets and customer demands.
Especially in industries like software development where one product release cycle in the classical Waterfall model could take around a year. The customer demands change dramatically in a year.
How is it possible to shake a status quo and suddenly out of nowhere solve the issues of the Waterfall model?
Of course not everybody can use Agile. Agile is mostly suited for cases when you are able to deliver partial improvements to the product. This is mostly software.
However, some large product installations like elevators can undergo partial improvements over time. Car makers have new models, face lifts etc. Of course you do not go to the car owner and rebuild their car over a night. You rather release new model, model 5, 6, 7, X… Clearly even a hardware can use Agile (e.g. mobile phones).
Isn’t Scrum Agile as well? Mathematically speaking not. Scrum adopts all Agile values and principles and adds its own. From the other point of view, Agile does not have all the attributes of Scrum. While Scrum implements Agile, Agile is not Scrum neither implements nor adopts it.
Six key deliverables and the workflow
Agile is based on six key deliverables:
- Product vision statement: A summary that articulates the goals of the product.
- Product roadmap: The high-level view of the requirements needed to achieve the product vision. What are the Epics (customer cases) to be met?
- Product backlog: a full list of all user stories (features) to be implemented in order to create the product as required, ideally ordered by priority.
- Release plan: An action plan (tasks in a timetable) for the release of a working product.
- Iteration (e.g. sprint) backlog: The user stories (requirements), goals, and tasks linked to the current iteration.
- Increment: The working product functionality that is presented to the stakeholders at the end of the iteration and could potentially be given to the customer.
When teams dive deep into product increment creation, there is a risk of forgetting the big picture. It is an intrinsic part of the product manager’s role to remind the big picture to the team. Especially because when solving individual tasks and their challenges, people might easily slip to solving problems that are absolutely not needed to be solved for the product and customer.
Another important aspect is making sure that all completed tasks make sense when combined together. In other words, to make sure that the accomplished work can be combined to fully implement a feature, a customer use case or a bigger piece of the product backlog. Often, when this is forgotten, teams end up with many great partial solution that unfortunately cannot fulfil customer needs.
Agile places large emphasis on collaboration, flexibility, continuous improvement, and high quality results. What does that mean? It means that we mostly need a highly skilled team with multi-disciplinary experience. Especially in case of Scrum.
Conclusion – Who should use Agile?
Who should use Agile? Teams working on projects requiring flexibility, having a high level of complexity or uncertainty. Also, have a look at the following two flavors of Agile – Scrum and Kanban.
All projects magaed in an Agile way can be easily tracked in an online tool so that all team members have instant access to up-to-date information and project state whenever they need.
In the next part, we’ll discuss the most popular Agile implementation – Scrum.
In many systems, time is either just a piece of text or, in the better case, something that you can enter via a calendar popup dialog. The system itself then barely understands the meaning.
On the other hand, we people understand time pretty well. We know that a certain date is associated with a day of week. We know that we typically do not work during the weekend. We know that Christmas are in the fourth quarter.
We would like our systems to naturally understand this as well. And guess what, Lumeer does exactly that.
The easiest way to proceed is to tell Lumeer what format of date and time we have or expect. Lumeer tries to guess that for you, however, it might be difficult to recognize month and day when the numbers do not exceed 12 for instance.
Let’s have a look at our example with data about calls made by our sales department. In the table with calls statistics, we right-click on the Call Time column header, select Attribute type and switch it to Date.
Next, we select a Custom format and enter a sort of a magic formula (see below) that reflects our format. We can see in the example that the format matches.
In the following table, we can see what is the meaning of individual codes in the date time format formula:
|YYYY, YY||Years 2021, 21|
|MM, M||Months 01-12, 1-12|
|DD, D||Days 00-31, 0-31|
|HH, H||Hours 00-23, 0-23|
|hh, h||Hours 00-12, 0-12|
|mm, m||Minutes 00-59, 0-59|
|ss, s||Seconds 00-59, 0-59|
|S, SS, SSS||Milliseconds 0-999|
|a, A||am/pm, AM/PM|
|DDD, DDDD||Day of year 1-365|
|ddd, dddd||Day of week Mon, Monday|
|e, E||Day of week 0-6, 1-7|
|WW, W||Week of year 01-53, 1-53|
|x, X||Timestamp 1410715640579, 1410715640.579|
|Z, ZZ||Offset from UTC +12:00|
The advantage of Lumeer understanding the format is that we can create a Pivot table that counts total and unique calls per day of week and hour of the day.