One of our core values is to make Lumeer radically human in accordance with Accenture’s recent Future ready enterprise systems research. One of the core metrics is the time spent obtaining the desired information from the system.
We measure that in the number of mouse clicks, because we are obsessed by unnecessary clicks!
We measured the most common scenarios and compared with the most prosaic solution — with spreadsheets that many of our clients have used in the past. We will describe the scenarios in some future posts, however, to give you a sneak peek in our kitchen — we were able to see improvements of 23% across various scenarios on average.
We take this very seriously and we make sure that Lumeer only introduces a super thin transparent layer on top of your business. Lumeer must be almost invisible. Your businesses are those changing the world!
There was a process that required an extra click with no added value. This was when changing between your mostly used views. The typical workflow was to click on the Lumeer icon to get to the home screen and selecting the other view.
Now, the first click is removed with the beautiful bookmarks that are always available on the right side. You can literally create your own menu out of these bookmarks. Then they always take you to the right place. Just by a single click of a mouse!
Create your bookmarks today and save precious clicks!
You might not only be a business offering contractors to have employees working on multiple projects at the same time.
The important question you often need to answer is what skills do you have available and when for you to commit to the next big project.
It would be great if we could find such an answer easily and quickly. Many companies use spreadsheets or some other workarounds to deal with this, however, it brings only a partial relief.
In Lumeer, we can easily manage all the information and have a single source of truth available to everyone.
Let’s start with tracking our team members and projects.
The first unique value of Lumeer is that we can put our data into relations – we can link team members to projects.
There can be multiple relations with various meanings. In our case it means who works on which project.
This is overly simplified as not everybody typically works on a project from the very beginning till the very end. Especially when a project has a longer time span.
To track more details, we can add additional attributes (or columns if you will) to the link. We can add the start and end date of an assignment and also the allocation percentage.
We can easily share only the relevant piece of the linked tables with all team members so that they can manage their part.
Now we can have a look at how to get a quick overview of our team utilisation. We can see that in Timelines.
We need a bit of a preparation. Every table row can be linked to an arbitrary amount of other rows. This needs to aggregate linked table rows which Timelines do not support yet. Lumeer will automate that soon, but for now, we create a helper column in the link that collects the progress percentage and project name.
As we can see, it is now obvious, where we have enough resources available to commit ourselves to a new project.
On the left, we can see the list of our employees and on the right side, there are the time lines representing the assignment of individual employees to the projects. The percentage values denote the assignment proportions out of each team member’s time.
As a bonus, we can see the Projects on an agile Board grouped by their state. We can even easily see projects that are due soon or past due.
With Lumeer, you’ll make your organisation as efficient as possible!
Gone are the days when computers needed all information to be indexed with a number. Well not gone, but the computers stopped bothering us – users – with these boring numbers.
Yet, we still love the IDs or codes to track individual records, or table rows if you wish. This allows us to easily share information with our colleagues, especially over the phone.
So the codes are very practical and can speed up our daily routines.
Most typically, project tasks have their codes. Like
It would not be very convenient for us to search for the most recently used number manually and add it to a newly created task. Let’s have a look how Lumeer can do that automatically .
It is very simple. The desired outcome it as depicted below with the first column to be generated automatically.
We first open the Tasks table configuration.
And on the Rules tab, we create a new rule of type Blockly which allows us to set a value of a table row (also called document or record) upon its creation.
Here we built a simple rule that sets the attribute Code of the newly created document in the Tasks table to a string composed of a prefix
LUMEER- and a value from a sequence called tasksSequence aligned to at least 4 digits.
A sequence is an ever increasing number that gets higher automatically every time it is read. We can save the rule and give it a try by creating a new task. Remember, we do not need to fill in the code.
The rule automatically filled in the code. However, the number is not correct. We already had two tasks, so we want the sequence to continue.
We can fix the added line manually and we want the next task to be assigned the code
LUMEER-0004. Let’s open project configuration.
There we can see all the sequences we ever used in the rules. The counter is the last used number. So we want to set it to 3.
And let’s give it one more try in the table.
Et voila! Problem solved. Now you can easily ask you colleague to help you and carry on some work on the task
Next, we’ll see how to move the task tracking to another level using custom workflows in our newly updated Board perspective.
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.
We would like to welcome you to our series about project management methodologies. There are 3 parts in total (Traditional methods, Agile and Lean).
There are plenty of articles that explain technical details of various Project Management Methodologies when you search for them. To provide some additional value, we would like to concentrate more on the human aspect of using these methodologies, how they can influence the communication and overall progress and results. We will put some psychology into it.
For a subtle technical introduction, let’s begin with looking around what has been already defined and whether there isn’t any standardization authority. In Project Management, this could be the Project Management Institute (PMI). Their mission is to be the leading not-for-profit professional membership association for the project management profession.
Founded in 1969, PMI delivers value for more than 2.9 million professionals working in nearly every country in the world through global advocacy, collaboration, education and research.
PMI regularly releases the PMBOK which is a guide detailing a set of standards that characterize project management.
PMBOK stands for the Project Management Body of Knowledge. It summarizes the five process groups that are prevalent in almost every project. They are:
- Initiating: Defining the start of a new project or a new phase of an existing project.
- Planning: What is the scope of the project, what are the objectives, and how the objectives will be achieved.
- Executing: Actually doing the work defined in the project management plan.
- Monitoring and Controlling: When you need to track, review, and regulate the progress and performance.
- Closing: Concluding all activities across all Process Groups to formally close the project or phase.
Along with this, it includes best practices, conventions, and techniques that are considered to be the industry standard. Latest edition (the sixth) was released both online and in print in 2017. We definitely recommend it as a great resource if you are into a career path in Project Management for instance.
We will soon see that these project phases are more or less reflected in all frequently used methodologies.
In this first part of our series, we inspect the most traditional project management methodology.
Methodology 1: Waterfall
Waterfall is a linear sequential approach where one phase can only begin when the previous phase is completed.
Also, you need to have the final results (product requirements) specified in advance. That puts a high demand on mental skills and responsibility of all participating teams to think everything through and imagine all possible risks in advance.
Risk 1. Unfortunately, to think about the future is not what humans are especially good at. Also, we are often overly optimistic about the future and the project progress.
Waterfall is a heavily documentation-oriented project management. Originally, its aim was to allow a smooth transition of knowledge between individual team members as they come and go. Simply, a new team members reads the existing documents and they can smoothly onboard. In theory of course.
Risk 2. This does not necessarily reflect reality as the documentation is written by the team members who are very well familiar with the project, which leads to omitting details here and there.
The core principle of the Waterfall methodology is to have a clear definition of outcomes of individual phases and acceptance criteria of the next phase. Individual phases are executed by teams of specific experts.
Risk 3. When there is an overlap of people between individual phases, it can become very hard for them to stick to the rules of phases handover. This can create unwanted unpredicted states.
Risk 4. Waterfall typically flows only down. There can be a reverse speed in your gearbox. When a critical issue is discovered, the only thing that can be done is to return to the previous state of the process. This causes lengthy delays and problems with teams utilization.
Risk 5. In Waterfall, the active phase indicates which team is the busiest one at the moment. The team in the earlier phase has completed their work and they could have started on another project already. The team in a later phase might be still completing their previous project. Do you see the big hidden assumption here? The assumption is that all phases take equal amount of time. This is rarely true.
This constant inflow of other projects (to keep the people utilized) makes reversing the process very difficult. Suddenly, one team faces a situation where there are two projects on their plate at the same time. On the other hand, the team that returned the Material or Work In Progress (WIP) to the previous phase is empty-handed.
Risk 6. The WIP handover between the phases is a typical friction point between the teams. When team members are under stress and the project deadline is close, even a tiny issue can fire up a huge blame war. It is important to remind the teams that they are all in the same boat and that they have the same goal.
Who can benefit best from Waterfall? So far we mostly talked about the risks in the Waterfall methodology. Yet, there are some really good cases when it should be strongly considered.
If you have a manufacturing process that is spread over several geographical locations and there is not an option to return WIP back to the previous stage, then it is great to have the handover criteria set very well.
Other indicators can be a manufacturing process with years of experience (you produce the same thing for years already) with no to only cosmetic changes. When the WIP stays for a significant amount of time in each phase and you have a constant throughput, then Waterfall is probably your friend.
Also the the right tool with support for tracking multiple projects at the same time can be a huge help.
Next time, we’ll have a look on Agile and derived methodologies – Scrum and Kanban.
Move faster and more precisely to save precious resources and gain an advantage over the competition. Lumeer helps companies of all sizes to be more connected, productive and innovative.
Kick off your next project with the best template and freely modify it as your team and company grow. There are templates for: project tracker, work tracker, issue tracker, recruiting, sales CRM, marketing, people management, budget planning, inventory tracking, supply chain management, product roadmap and launch and more.
Companies use Lumeer to keep one version of truth on every project, collaborate real-time with others, track progress, automate processes, and provide instant executive reports.