Manual for The PlanMinder
The PlanMinder is a project planning tool that uses automatic scheduling to convert your plan into a gantt chart schedule. It uses the uncertainties in your time estimates to predict when activities will be done, and how likely it is that you will reach deadlines on time.
You create your plan as interdependent activities, connected to a milestone. Project team members report the work they do in The PlanMinder, and updates estimates as they learn more. The schedule is kept up to date with the automatic scheduler.
Use the report functionalities to explore the history and create project reports.
When you start The PlanMinder you are met by a login screen. All your project data is stored in a database, and The PlanMinder needs information to access the database you are using.
At the bottom of the login screen there is a button to start a demo version. This uses a local database with some project examples that you can play around with.
When setting up a new database for The PlanMinder, there are a few things to configure before you and your team start using it. There is a guide on what you should do here.
The PlanMinder has eight main pages:
Home – This is an overview page that presents the most important information. An attention list, latest updates, a note pad and a calendar.
Report Time – Use this page to report work you do, and update status and estimates for activities you are working on.
Work Schedule – Calendar with holidays and vacations. Here you define when you are working, and when you are not available for scheduled project work.
Kairos – Kairos is an old Greek word for time as in opportune time. This is the project view where you define projects with activities and their relations.
Chronos – Chronos is the old Greek word for time as on a timeline. Here you can see the activities laid out as a Gantt chart, and when things are likely to be done. You can see milestones and deadlines, when people are working, and when they are available for new activities.
Priolist – This is where you set priorities between projects and individual milestones (prio points), and get an overview of the future on a project level.
Reports – Here you can find out what has happened in projects, and write and read project reports. You can also explore project data from both the recorded past and the planned future.
Settings – This is a page with a collection of tools for managing The PlanMinder. Here you can change passwords, create new users, and handle all customizable settings for The PlanMinder. This is also where you handle registration and license keys.
On all pages there are green round buttons in the top left corner. Some pages has two, others have four. From right to left these are:
Update: Read data from the database, including all changes made by other users. Also used to refresh data on a page.
Run Scheduler: Runs the automatic scheduler updating dates and probabilities. This may take a few seconds, and progress is indicated by dots in the middle of the top row.
Copy image to clipboard: Creates an image of the active graphical area in the clipboard. Paste in another document using Ctrl-v.
Print: Sends an image of the active graphical area to a printer. The copy and print buttons are only shown on pages with a graphical area that can be printed.
Sometimes the reload and the run scheduler buttons have a pulsing purple background. For the update button this signals that someone else has made changes that you should load. The run scheduler button pulses when you have made changes that will affect the schedule.
It is a good practice to press the reload button before making changes. Otherwise there is a small risk that you may overwrite changes made by someone else. Not all changes triggers the reload button to pulse, and it does not happen immediately.
Someone should run the scheduler every day, to make sure the schedule is up to date. Even if the button is not pulsing.
If the scheduler fails to schedule all tasks, a warning triangle will appear above the button. Click on the triangle to open a dialog with more information.
There are three levels of user privileges. They decide what you as a user can do in The PlanMinder. Some buttons are grayed out and unavailable to you if you are not authorized use them. On the settings page you can see what privileges you have.
If you have none of the above privileges you are an observer. You can read reports and check the status of projects, but not change anything.
Being a manager or admin does not automatically make you a developer. To run the scheduler you need to have license keys matching the number of developers. You can read more about licensing here, and more about managing users here.
The home page is designed to give you an overview of the information most important to you. You can click on an area to expand it and reveal more information.
The top area of the page is an overview of your reported time. It shows you how much time you have committed for the last five weeks, and a summary in red of time that has been reported but is not yet committed.
If you click to expand you will see committed time for all developers.
On the left is the Attention area. Here is a list of activities, deadlines, checkpoints, discrete risks and external activities that needs your attention. Click to expand it and show more information. What information is shown, and why they are in the list depends on the type of item. It may be that they need, or are likely to need a status update, or for deadlines, that you are likely to, or already have, missed them.
You can click on the symbols in the list to open a dialog.
This list may be empty, and it is limited to 25 items.
This list shows the latest status updates for activities you are responsible for, and activities in projects where you are the assigned manager. Click to expand and see the comments for each update.
Three different symbols are used:
Time estimate updated
Activity completed, but there may be some unscheduled work left for later.
Older posts are shown with gray symbols. The list is limited to 25 items.
The shared notes area is a simple text field where you can write text. You can select another person in the drop down list, and read and edit their notes too. It is a bit like the whiteboard you have in the office, or on you office door.
You can use it for ToDo-notes, or whatever you find it convenient for.
On the right side there is a calendar. It shows what activities The PlanMinder has scheduled for you each day. You will also see your work schedule entries, like vacations and reserved days.
You can use the drop down list to select another developer and see their calendar.
The team button on the right switches to a team view mode, where you see all developers, but one date at a time. This gives you a quick overview of what everybody is supposed to be working on today (or some day in the future).
You can drag the divider to make the calendar view wider, and potentially reveal more information.
If there are multiple activities scheduled on the same day, they are shown in order of most scheduled time. There is a limit of five activities per day.
The Report Time page is where you inform The PlanMinder what you actually has been working on, and also where you can report the completion of activities, or update time estimates. The page has two tabs, Report Time, and Update Activity Status.
On this tab you report how much you have worked on an activity. This is used by The PlanMinder to calculate how much work remains, so that a new more accurate schedule can be generated. This way the schedule can be kept up to date all the time. Your entries are also stored so that you can later go back to see how much work the activity actually took, and what was actually done. This will help you make better time estimates the next time you are to do something similar.
Time reports must be committed to be visible to others and to be used in calculations by The PlanMinder.
The central area of the page is the week overview. Here you have a matrix of days and activities, with sums. You can enter time directly in the matrix.
Below the week overview is the list of all work report entries. You can move the divider to adjust how much space is used for the overview and the list.
Above overview is an activity information area. It shows information about the selected activity.
On the left is the project tree view. Here you can find all activities in all projects.
There are many ways to create a new time report entry. Find a way that fits your personal preferences.
The week overview lists activities you are scheduled to work on, activities you have marked as favorites and activities you already have reported time on this week. If the activity you are looking for is there, you can simply type the number of hours in the corresponding field in the matrix. This will also create a new entry in the list below, where you can access more details.
If the activity is not in your overview, you need to add it. This can be done in several ways.
From the project tree view you can
All these methods will create a new entry for the marked day in the overview and in the report list. Click on a day above the week overview to change which day is marked.
The top row in the overview is and empty row with a plus symbol. You can start typing the name in the “select an activity” field to start a search for an activity you know the name of.
All rows in the week overview for the current week, and all entries in the list for today's date has a timer symbol. Click on the timer to measure time as you work. Time will be added to the corresponding report entry, or a new will be created if it does not exist. Click again to stop the timer, or on another activity timer to switch task.
Adding a short comment to each time report provides a lot of value. For one, without a comment it is very difficult to correct a report with errors. When reviewing project history, comments will help you understand what did take time, what did not, and why.
In the week overview matrix there is a little text icon next to every time entry. You can click on it and enter a comment. If the entry has a comment, the icon gets a green check mark.
In the report entry list, comments has their own column.
You need to commit your time reports to signal that they are complete. They will not be visible to others, nor be used by The PlanMinder scheduler, until they are.
To the right of each row there is a button to commit entries corresponding to the row. There is also a commit all button in the week overview.
Only reports with a non zero time, and a selected activity can be committed. A dialog box will tell you how many reports will be committed, and if any of them are missing a comment. You can commit entries without a comment, but you really should write comments.
Committing entries does not prevent you from continue to edit them. Committed entries get a green check mark in place of the button. Uncommittable entries gets a red minus symbol.
Time is displayed in decimal hours, but when you enter time you can do it either as decimal hours or hours:minutes. You can also do addition and subtractions, and use time ranges, like 13:00 – 14:15. If you do a help display will pop up, showing you what syntax you can use, if your syntax is correct and what the result will be.
The week overview will by default show the current week. You can change weeks one step at a time with the green arrows, or select a week with the date selector. The double right arrows will take you back to the current week.
The week days are color coded with information from the work schedule. Current day is marked by a circle, and active day is marked as a tab. Active day is the day new entries are created for.
Yellow stars marks favorites. Click on a star to toggle favorite status. Favorite activities will be listed in the week overview for new weeks, even if they are not scheduled.
The X button on each row lets you delete all entries corresponding to this row.
The time report list shows every entry as a list element, sorted and color coded by day. It is linked to the week overview, so any change is reflected in both places.
To the right of the comment is a field for type of work. It has a default value based on the value set for the activity, but sometimes you need to change it to match what you have done. This value is used to track what type of work the team is doing across all projects. What work types you can select is up to your organization to define.
The first button on the right side lets you copy a time report. A new report entry with the same activity, comment and work type is created for the active day. The time will not be copied.
The X button deletes the entry.
Clicking on the day circle for an entry lets you move the entry to a new day.
Sometimes you do work without knowing what activity it should be reported on. You can create a report for work without selecting an activity. You can click the (+) button in the week overview, enter a time on the first row in the week overview, or start the timer for the first row,
You can not commit the report until you have selected an activity for the report. You can do this by starting to type in the activity field to search for a named activity, or you can find the activity in the project tree view and drag and drop it on the report, either in the week overview or the report list.
If enabled in settings, you will see a money symbol on the time report rows in the list. This is used to signal if the reported time is billable or not. Your organization will have to decide if you are going to use this feature or not.
The flag will get its default value from the setting in the activity. You toggle it by clicking on it.
To export this information go to the reports page.
The activity information area displays information about the selected activity. You can select an activity in the tree view, or click on a time report row.
You can see the name, the project and who is responsible for the activity. For scheduled activities you can also see a visual representation of how much work has been done, and how much work is estimated to be left. The uncertainty is visualized with a box and whiskers plot.
The green bar represents work done, and the orange represents the expected remaining time. The box represents the 1:st and 3:rd quartile. There is a 50 % chance that the end result will be inside the box. The whiskers represent 10 and 90 % probability. All according to your estimate and the model The PlanMinder uses.
If you move the mouse pointer to the plot it will display a legend, the estimates as numbers, and when the time estimate was made. The light green part of the bar represents work reported after the last estimate was made.
If you are authorized to, you can click the edit button to bring up the activity dialog, and edit the activity, change status or update the estimate of remaining time.
The other button will open the corresponding project in the Kairos view, so that you can see how the activity fits in with other activities in the project.
On the Update Activity Status tab you will see an overview of all active activities you are assigned to. They are shown as cards on the right side, ordered by how likely they are to need an updated estimate or changed status.
A small meter symbol on each card indicates the need for update. This value also decides the color of the card. Red indicates that the current estimate used can not be true, like not completed but zero time remaining. Yellow indicates that much work has been done since the last estimate, or that the relative uncertainty is large.
The bottom half of the card shows the estimated time left for the activity, as it currently stands. It is calculated by subtracting the reported and committed work done from the most recent estimate update. You can also see when the last update was made, and how much work has been reported since then.
When you click on a card to select it, information about the activity is displayed on the right side. The top frame shows details, and a graphical representation of reported and remaining work. Here is also a button to update the activity status or remaining time estimate.
Below is a list of all the time reports and previous updates, with their comments. They are displayed in chronological order, with the newest first. You can change how this list is displayed by clicking on the filter button, giving you the following alternatives.
At the bottom there is a row showing statistics for the activity. You can select multiple time report rows by shift and ctrl clicking on them, and see the sum of the work they represent. These tools can help you figure out how the time was spent.
The update button opens the same update dialog as accessible from the edit activity dialog. You can change status and time left estimate. Leaving a comment will help you and others understand the status and progress of the work. It will help you get better at estimating time and risks in the future.
Sometimes it is valuable to create an update for an activity without changing the status or estimate, just to signal that it is up to date and not just ignored. If you make more than one update for an activity on the same day, the most recent update will replace the earlier one. The PlanMinder assumes that the remaining time in the estimate is remaining at the end of the day.
On the work schedule page you define when and how much your team will be working, or more specifically when and how much The PlanMinder can schedule developers to activities.
The left side is a table with individual entries. The right side is a graphical representation of the work schedule for all developers. Click in the People column to select whose schedule entries you want to see in the list.
If you select the General symbol in the Peoples column you will see the list with general rules.
As a developer you can edit your own work schedule. As an administrator you can edit all work schedules.
Click on the Add Rule button to add a new entry to the list. This will open a rule type selection dialog.
In the dialog you can select one of the following rule types:
Base modifier: How many percent on an average work day you will be working on scheduled activities. You may spend part of your average week on meetings, administration or other tasks not part of the project activities The PlanMinder schedules. Adjust for that with this rule.
Exception modifier: Make a temporary exception to the base modifier, replacing it for a specified duration.
Leave preliminary: You will be on leave, but marked as preliminary.
Leave requested: You will be on leave, but marked as requested not yet approved.
Leave vacation: You will be on leave, marked as vacation.
Leave parental: You will be on leave, marked as parental leave.
Leave: You will be on leave, without specifier.
Reserved for work: You will be working, but not available for scheduled project work. This may be things like conferences or business trips.
Part day: You will be working less than a normal day. You specify how many hours of work you will do. Marked with a yellow line in the calendar plot.
Overtime: You will be working more than a normal day. You specify how many hours of work you will do. Marked with a pink line in the calendar plot.
Start from: Specifies first day of work for a new team member.
Work until: Specifies the last day of work.
Click on a rule type to create a new rule entry. The new entry will appear expanded at the top of the list, where you can edit the parameters. The exact parameters depends on the rule type. Usually there is a start and end date. For the short day rule, and similar rules, there is a field where you enter how many hours you will be working. All rule entries have a label and a comment.
Once completed, click the save entry button. The entry will be sorted into the list, with the earliest dates on top. Entries with past dates are sorted after future dates, and they will show the delete button.
To edit an existing entry, click on it to expand it. You can change parameters and save, or delete the entry. To change entry type, select a new type in the drop down.
If you have Admin privileges you can edit the general work schedule. This is where you define how long a work day normally is, and which days are normal work days. Click on the general schedule icon in the Persons column to access the general schedule rules.
The general work schedule have these rule types:
Normal work day: Specifies length in hours of a normal work day.
Weekday is holiday: Specifies a day of week where there is no work. Marked with red background in the calendar.
Weekday is free: Specifies a day of week where there is no work. Marked with a light pink background in the calendar.
Weekday is short: Specifies a day of the week with a different number of work hours than the normal work day. Marked with a yellow background in the calendar.
Day is holiday: Specifies a date where there is no work. Marked with red background in the calendar.
Day is free: Specifies a date where there is no work. Marked with a light pink background in the calendar.
Day is short: Specifies a date with a different number of work hours than the normal work day. Marked with a yellow background in the calendar.
The rules types are different, but you edit them the same way you do personal schedule rules. There is in practice no difference between free days and holidays, except for the background color. Use the rules to match your local calendar style.
The import holiday calendar button lets you import official holiday rules for several years into the future. Click on the button and select your country from the list, and which years to import. Do verify that the imported holidays are correct, and that the list is complete.
Delete past holidays by clicking on the delete button to keep the list neat.
On this page you create and edit project plans. You need to have Manager or Admin privileges to edit and create plans, but all users can view the plans. As a developer you can edit activities you are responsible for in this view.
Kairos is an ancient Greek word for the opportune time for something. Different from the word chronos, as in chronometer, that is the word for time as on a timeline.
Project plans in The PlanMinder describes when an activity should be done in relation to other activities and milestones. The dependencies are marked with lines.
You read the plan from top to bottom. A circle with no lines connected to its top represents an activity that can be started at any time. If it has a connection, the activity it is connected to must be completed first.
A filled circle is an activity with remaining work. Unfilled mean that it has been completed.
There should be at least one milestone in the plan marked as a prio point with three yellow circles. Only activities directly or indirectly connected to a prio point will be scheduled. The prio points will appear on the Prio list page.
There can also be start points, external activities, discrete risks, deadlines and checkpoints in your plans.
When you have created or changed a plan you click on the Run Scheduler button to let The PlanMinder schedule all the tasks. You can run the scheduler every day to take into account changes in how much people actually work, updated estimates, changes in other project plans, changes in team member availability, etc. without having to touch your plan in Kairos view. And yet you will always have a plan and a schedule that is up to date.
Monitor the schedule and the calculated probabilities for milestones, deadlines, resource utilization, and optimize your plan when necessary.
The example project in the screenshot is from the demo. A short explanation of what you see:
There are six activities connected to the deadline “Date of summit”. Most of them are complete, except the “Invite World Leaders” activity. The “Hold World Peace Summit” activity is connected to a start point. This is to model that work on the summit can not start before the planned date of the summit.
In pink you see a discrete risk, that world peace will not be achieved on the summit. This is marked with an X on the left side, signaling that this risk has been determined as a failure. What fictionally happened is that the team failed with the “Invite World Leaders” activity, and thus with the summit. As the discrete risk has been determined as a failure, the activities it depends on will not be scheduled, and are therefore marked with green X-es. Instead the activities on the right side of the discrete risk will be scheduled, so that the “World Peace Achieved" milestone can be reached in an alternative way.
To create a new project click on the New Project button in the top left. This will bring up a dialog window where you enter basic information about the project.
You can also create a project based on another project as a template using the Clone Active Project button. You must first select an active project you wish to clone.
Enter a name and a description for the project. The project will by default be created in the active category, but you can select a different category in the drop down list.
Normally project visibility should be set to Everyone, but sometimes you may have a reason to not let the project appear in all users project tree.
Billable defines the default value for the billable flag, if used.
Project manager defines who is managing this project. Only users marked as manager can be selected.
Project status is described in detail below.
To edit a project, select it and click the Edit Project button. This brings up the same dialog options as when creating a project.
If you wish to move a project from one category to another, you can also do so by drag and drop in the tree view.
This button will allow you to enter Scenario Mode. Scenario Mode lets you create and test different scenarios where you can change projects and priorities without affecting the active plan. The Scenario Mode is described in its own chapter below.
A project can have one of seven different statuses. They are defined as follows:
Idea: It is a project idea. The project is not scheduled, changes are not tracked and you can not report time on this project.
Planned: The project is planned, but has not yet started. It is not scheduled, but it is possible to report time on the activities. Changes to activities will generate an Update entry visible in the project history.
Active: The project is active, and is scheduled.
Paused: The project is paused, and is not scheduled. It is understood that the status will be changed back to active some time in the future. Functionally similar to planned.
Completed: The project has been completed, and is no longer scheduled. It is still possible to report time on this project.
Ongoing: This is not a real project with a defined end. It is instead a grouping of ongoing activities. It is possible to add prio points and schedule activities in an ongoing project, but it is mainly intended to be used to host activities to report non project time on.
Closed: The final state of a project. Not scheduled and no longer possible to report time on.
The normal project life cycle should be Idea → Planned → Active → Completed → Closed. Let the project be in the Idea state until you believe the plan is ready. This will avoid filling up the project history with Update entries.
On the left side you have the project tree view. This is a hierarchical view of projects and activities and everything that makes up a project plan.
The top level categories are defined on a settings page. They appear in the order they are defined.
The next level are the projects. Activities and other elements are inside projects. They are sorted by type and by name in alphabetical order. You can double click on an element in the tree view to bring up its corresponding edit dialog. Selecting an element in the active project will also select it in the Kairos view to the right, ping it to show where it is, and pan to it if it is not already visible in the window.
These are symbols you can find in the project tree:
Category: Top level grouping of projects.
Project: May be shown with any of the status icons listed above.
Group: A group of avtivities and milestones.
Start point: A date before which work on dependent activities can not start. The symbol is grey if the date has passed.
Activity completed, but with risk for remaining unscheduled work.
Ongoing unscheduled activity.
Milestone that has been reached. Can also be red for a reached deadline.
Milestone that is a prio point. Can be red for a prio point that also is a deadline.
Milestone that is a deadline.
A missed deadline.
Checkpoint not yet reached, but approved.
Checkpoint reached, but not yet approved.
Checkpoint reached and approved.
External activity, started and awaiting delivery.
External activity, completed.
Discrete risk, pending
Discrete risk, resolved as OK.
Discrete risk, resolved as fail.
A warning symbol can be added to projects, groups and activities to indicate a scheduling problem. Click on the warning triangle on the Run Scheduler button to list all problems.
Above the tree view is a tool panel with four icons.
Search: Click the search icon to bring up the text search tool. Type text in the text field to search for the name of an element in the tree view. Select search mode on the right side to match beginning of names, or anywhere in names.
If the search term does not match any name, the text field gets a red frame. Click the up and down arrow buttons to jump between matches in the project tree.
Filter: The tree view can be filtered to not show projects of selected statuses, and to not show activities marked as hidden. By default closed projects and hidden activities are not shown. Check all boxes to show everything.
Striped background: Toggles a striped background for the tree view.
Show columns: Select predefined sets of columns with information for the tree view. The column view is explained here.
Groups can be used to create a logical structure among the activities in a project.
Use the Create Group button to create a new group in the active project. A group has a color associated with it, to make the grouping visible in the Kairos view. You can also define a default setting for the billable status for activities created in the group, if enabled.
You can use Groups to group together activities of similar type, like hardware or firmware, or you can group together logical sub parts of the project.
The prefix option in the group dialog helps you automatically number activities created in the group. This will put a prefix like HW1_ before the name of activities in your hardware group. This could be a good idea if you want to reference activities without using their full name. It also makes it possible to have the activities be listed in a logical order rather than in alphabetical order.
The covariance setting is explained in its own chapter below.
You can move elements to and from groups in the same project by drag and dropping, or by changing group with the drop down menu in their respective edit dialog.
A project needs activities and milestones to form a plan. These are created in the Kairos view on the right side.
Double click on a project in the tree view to make it the active project. Make sure Edit Mode is selected in the View options on the right side.
Right click on an empty space in the Kairos view to bring up the element creation palette. Click on the type of element you want to create, or on the X to exit the menu. Selecting an element type will bring up the corresponding creation dialog. If completed the new element will be created both on the Kairos view, and in the tree view.
All the different elements will be explained below.
You can double click on an element to bring up its edit dialog. You can left click and hold to move the element. Left click and hold on an empty area to pan, and use the scroll wheel to zoom.
Click on an element to select it. This will show its connection points as dots. To create a dependency, click on the connection point dot you want to connect. Then click on the element you want to create a dependency with. You can double click on an empty space to exit the connection mode.
To delete a dependency connection, you can double click on it to bring up its dialog, or click once to select and then press the delete key on the keyboard. You can read about advanced dependency options here.
Activities must be directly or indirectly connected to a dependent prio point to be scheduled. You create a prio point from the deadline menu, by checking the appropriate check boxes. Activities not scheduled are displayed with an X. If that is the intention change the activity type to ongoing, to show that it is not a mistake.
Clicking on the + button in the top left corner of the Kairos view brings out a toolbar.
From left to right, these tool buttons are:
Toggle dark background - The Kairos view can be displayed with a dark background instead of a white.
Toggle symbol style - The Kairos view has two modes of displaying symbols. Choose the one you prefer.
Snap to grid - Moves all elements to its nearest snap point. You can hold down shift when moving an element to make it snap too.
Move project to paper center - Move your plan to the center of the Kairos view area.
And the leftmost buttons are Zoom in, Zoom out and Reset Zoom and Pan.
There are a few keyboard shortcuts you can use on the Kairos page when working with plans.
An activity is a logically scoped unit of work, to be done by one person in one go. It could be one simple task, or a group of small tasks to be done by one person to achieve a goal. Most important is that it is easy to understand what it encompasses and is supposed to accomplish. We recommend not creating too many too small activities, as it leads to more administration and possibly unnecessary micromanagement. Neither should they be to big to grasp and estimate, and unwieldy to schedule when you want to optimize your plan.
Name and description are important for your team to understand what the activity encompasses.
Developer is the person scheduled to work on the activity, and the person responsible for updating estimate and status as the project progresses.
Billing and work type are default values used for the activity when creating time reports.
Activity status is one of the following:
Active: An activity with scheduled work
Completed: Work completed, and dependent activities can be scheduled.
Completed, with risk for additional work: This state signals that the work is completed for now, and dependent activities can be scheduled. There may however be additional work that may, or should, be done later. This work is not scheduled, but is still added to the total sum for the project.
Ongoing: Activities that are not scheduled. This is used for ongoing work, like project management, that does not have a defined end, or cannot be completed in one go. The time is added to the total sum for the project, and is important for budgeting purposes. It is also used for activities in ongoing projects.
Time estimate is an estimate of how much work is required to complete the activity. At least is the time it will take if everything goes without problems. It should be a time that is not impossible to reach, but it should be unlikely that the activity can be completed significantly faster.
The reasonable sure estimate is a time you are reasonable sure will be enough to complete the activity. Reasonable sure is defined as seven times out of ten, it will take less time. The seven times out of ten definition is why it is somtimes denoted as p70, for 70 % probability.
You can enter the time by typing in the text boxes, or by dragging the points on the slider. If you hold down Ctrl while dragging, you move both points at the same time.
If the project is not in the Idea state, you change the estimate or status with the Update button, that also creates an Update entry in the project history. This lets you add a comment to the change.
Choose Deadline in the element creation palette to create any form of milestone. The dialog has checkboxes that determines if the milestone is a deadline, a priopoint, both, or non of the above.
If no checkbox is selected it becomes a pure milestone. You can monitor the predictions of when it will be reached. It may also be useful to add milestones to manage dependencies a bit easier.
If the milestone is a prio point it will be added to the prio list view, where it can be given a priority. All scheduled projects must have at least one prio point.
If the milestone is a deadline you set a deadline date for it. The PlanMinder will calculate how likely it is that you will reach the milestone before the deadline date.
The Checkpoint is a special type of milestone. If you need a dedicated person to approve of some work before the project can continue, use a checkpoint in your plan.
The checkpoint has a checkpoint authority who is responsible for the check, and responsible for changing the approved status of the checkpoint.
The checkpoint can be approved before all activities it depends on has been completed. If they are completed, but it has not been approved, it will be shown in the Attention list for the designated checkpoint authority.
External activities are used to represent things that will take time, but does not require work by the team. This can be work done by external entities, or time to get things delivered.
You assign a supervisor to the external activity, responsible for updating the status, and possibly responsible for initiating the work, placing the order or whatever the external activity represents.
The time it will take is estimated in the same way normal activities are estimated, with the assumption that 8 hours represents one calendar day.
When all activities the external activity depends on are completed, a delivery date will be calculated. This date is used by the scheduler as a predicted delivery date. The supervisor person is tasked with updating the projected delivery date if it is not accurate, and changing the status to completed when delivered.
Discrete risks are used to represent risks that will either occur, or not. You define how probable it is that it will fail. This can be used for things like tests that will either pass or fail. A failure would mean that some amount of extra work is required.
The right side of the risk symbol is the pass side. Connect dependencies for if the risk did not fail, or failed and was resolved, from this corner. On the left side create the activities required to resolve the problem if the risk fails. Connect these dependencies back to the bottom dependency connection point.
One person is designated risk manager, tasked with updating risk status and the risk level. If all dependencies for the risk are resolved, the risk will be shown in the attention list for the risk manager.
If risk status is changed to Resolved OK, non of the activities on the fail side will be scheduled. Resolved FAILED will schedule them before any activities on the right side. While not resolved the Monte Carlo simulation will schedule them proportionally to their probability, affecting both timeline and budget uncertainty.
If the discrete risk is resolved before all activities it is dependent on are completed, these activities will no longer be scheduled. They will be marked with an X.
If work on a project can not start before a specific date, add a start point to the plan, and make the activities dependent of it. Dependent activities will not be scheduled until the start date has passed.
You can change the width of the tree view by dragging the three dot symbol on the divider to the right. This will enable you to see more information in up to six columns. You can click on the Show columns button in the toolbar and choose from predefined column selections, or you can define what you want in each column manually by clicking on the header.
Hold the mouse over a value to get a hint about the value shown.
This view is good when you want a budget overview. Groups and projects show accumulated information for the entries they contain. If you have defined hour costs for developers you are able to show monetary values as well.
This view is also valuable when checking that you have entered things correctly, and not missed something, when creating a project plan.
If you drag the divider beyond the rightmost information column, or choose Graphics only from the predefined columns selection, you will get a graphical representation of the time estimates.
The bars represents hours, ending with a box and whiskers plot to indicate uncertainty. The orange bar represents remaining time. By clicking on the filter symbol above, you can enable already done work to be displayed in green. This is similar to the plot shown in the Activity information area on the time report page.
The other option in the filter menu is Highligth selected project. This turns on a background color to make it easier to see which bars belongs to the active project.
Use the scroll wheel to change the scale. Bars that represents a whole project can be difficult to fit in the same scale that make individual activities readable.
On the right side of the Kairos view you can select view mode. This changes how your plan is rendered to visualize more information.
The two top options, Edit mode and Normal mode displays the plan the same way, where all activities are represented by an equally big circle.
Expected Time makes the activity circle areas proportional to the expected total amount of work. The size used for an activity in normal mode would represent 40 hours of work in this mode. Completed activities are shown as unfilled circles.
Uncertainty mode uses a gradient to illustrate the uncertainty in the estimation of of total time. The complete solid part represents the minimal time, and the gradient ends with an area representing 90 % probability.
Remaining Time is similar to Expected Time, but it only shows the time that remains. Completed activities will have no circle at all.
Progress view mode shows activity circles as a pie chart. The area of the circle represents the expected total time. The filled in part of the circle represents the remaining time.
These view modes can help you get a quick overview of the nature and status of the project.
There are three coloring modes for the Kairos view.
The top default option is to color activities and external activities by the group they belong to. If they do not belong to a group they get the standard green color.
Color by Developer uses the designated color for the developer responsible for the activity. This gives a quick overview of who does what, and who will have the most work. A legend will be displayed at the bottom.
Color by Expected Done Date uses a gradient to illustrate how far into the future activities are expected to be finished. Warmer colors are closer in time. A legend at the bottom explains the colors. You can combine this with a tree view column to get exact dates.
Combining view modes with different color modes unlocks visualizations that can give you a good feeling for the project, and let you discover anomalies and mistakes.
When you click the "Show cost probability distribution" button, a new plot window will open. This plot shows the result of a Monte Carlo simulation for the project cost.
On the Y axis you have different probability levels and ond the X axis cost of work.
You can read out how likely it is that the project work will cost less than where bars end. Orange bars represents work left to do, including ongoing activities and other work that is not scheduled. Green bars represent work already done and reported.
The cost unit is the currency defined in System / System Settings. The cost per hour is defined in System / Hour Costs. The cost for work already done is based on the hour cost set at the time the work reports were created.
In the example plot above you can read out that there is a 70 % chance that the cost will be below 250 (units). Holding the mouse over a bar will display the exact values.
The Covariance setting for groups is a way to fine tune the uncertainty model for the project. The default value is 20 %. This is a reasonable value in most cases, and if reasoning about mathematical models is not your cup of tee, then you can confidently leave it there.
In probability theory covariance is a measure of the joint variability of two random variables. When modeling the uncertainty in the estimated time for activities, they are considered random variables. If they are independent, like rolls of a die, the covariance is zero.
When regarding how much time activities will take compared to the estimates, you can not always assume that they are independent. There may be a common problem that will affect all or many activities. Or you may be equally bad at estimating all activities, so that they all tend to be over or under your guess.
In The PlanMinder groups are used to model covariance between activity estimate errors. The covariance is between all activities in the group, but only activities in the group.
Underestimating the covariance leads to an underestimation of the uncertainty for the whole project and its milestones. That is why it is included in the model. The default value of 20 % is arbitrarily chosen, but it is a reasonable value.
If you know more, you can change the covariance. If you are certain the activities are independent from each other, set it to zero. If you are aware of risks common to many of the activities in the group, set it a bit higher. 100 % covariance would be equivalent to having one dice role dictate the outcome of all activities. This is unlikely in practice.
You may also actively choose to group activities that are similar, and where you expect a covariance to exist, to get a better project model.
Covariance is more important for larger projects, and when you have long planning horizons.
When you double click on a dependency between two activities, a dialog containing advanced options opens. Normally you should not use these. They make the plan harder to read and understand.
There are however situations when you may want to use them to fix scheduling problems, instead of splitting an activity into two.
Normally a dependency mean that one activity needs to be completed before work on the dependent one can start. If you enter a number in the “Hours of independent work after start“ field, some amount of work can be done before you need the result of the first activity.
The second field “Independent hours of work” indicates that the first activity does not need to be completely finished for the dependent activity to start. The number you enter represents the amount of work allowed to be left in the first activity when work on the dependent activity can start.
Dependencies with advanced options are color coded as shown in the image above.
These are powerful options to fine tune the model of the project and make The PlanMinder schedule tasks as you intend. They are also difficult to understand, easy to forget and might therefore produce surprising results. They are best used to adjust the scheduling behavior in near time, but best avoided when first creating a plan.
Chronos is the ancient Greek word for time as on a timeline. This view shows the schedule on a timeline as a Gantt chart, but with more information than you normally find in a Gantt chart.
You can interact with the chart and change things to optimize the schedule, but you can not manually move activities on the timeline. The timeline is updated when you click the scheduler button, and the automatic scheduler is run.
On the left side is a list of activities, milestones and the other plan elements. The view type decides in what order they are shown. On the right side is the timeline.
With the mouse on the time line area you can press and hold the left mouse button to pan the view. Use the scroll wheel to zoom in and out on the timeline. With the mouse over the list area on the left you can use the scroll wheel to scroll up and down the list. You can also use the keyboard to navigate.
Chronos keyboard commands:
Holding the mouse still in the time line area will display a context sensitive note with information about the date and activity. You can right click to pin the note, and then use left and right arrow keys to move it one day at a time.
The list is displayed as a hierarchical tree view. Click on the leftmost symbol to hide its indented children. Items with hidden children has a down arrow indicator. Click on the symbol to expand.
Above the list is a toolbar with a collapse all button,
and an expand all button.
To use the search bar, start typing a search term in the text field. Select if you want to match start of names, or anywhere inside a name. Use the up and down buttons to jump between matching names. The text frame becomes red if there are no matches.
Activities are displayed as blocks on the timeline, indicating when they are scheduled for work according to the expected outcome schedule. This is based on the expected work needed for each individual activity. The scheduler also run ten thousand additional simulations with the work for each activity randomized according to the entered estimates. There are ways to display statistical information from these runs too. One important thing to remember is that the schedule you see is not an absolute truth. It is just one relatively likely projection of the future. More on that later.
Days where work is scheduled are colored. Days where work could be done, but the assigned person is not available, are framed but not filled. This could be because the person is not working, or is working on something with higher priority.
Completed activities are marked with a green background in the list
Click on a row in the list to highlight it. This will also show dependencies as arrows. Both the items the selected item is dependent on, and the items that are dependent on it are indicated. You can select more than one row at a time by holding shift when you click.
The dates when a milestone is expected to be reached is indicated by a box and whiskers plot. An x marks the date it will be reached according to the expected outcome schedule. The long vertical bar indicates the 50 % date, where it is equally likely that it will be reached before as after. There is at least a 50 % probability that the milestone will be reached on one of the dates in the green boxed area. The left whisker indicates the day where it is less than 10 % probability that it will be reached any earlier. The right whisker indicates the day where it is at least 90 % probable that it will have been finished.
If the milestone is a deadline, the deadline date will be indicated by a red milestone symbol in the timeline. The probability of reaching the deadline on time is shown on the list row.
In free tier mode where no Monte Carlo simulation data is available, milestones are only indicated on the expected outcome date.
External activities are shown as a gray line, with a ring on the expected done date. Completed external activities are marked with green background in the list.
For discrete risks, a green circled check mark is displayed on the date it is expected to be resolved to OK. If the probability of failure is greater than 50 %, a circled X is displayed on the date where it is expected to be resolved as a fail, with a line connecting it to the expected resolved date.
Start points are indicated with the start point symbol on the date for the earliest start. Passed start points are marked with a green background in the list.
You can double click on a line in the list to open its edit dialogue. (Not on any of the symbols.) If you are authorized to you can change things there, save and then press the schedule button to see the effect.
Activities has a person symbol in the personal color of the assigned person, and their initials on the right side of the list row. Click on the person symbol to reassign the activity to someone else. You can hold shift and click to mark multiple activities before opening the dialog, and reassign multiple activities at once.
Click on the run scheduler button to update the schedule and see the effect.
There are three view types for the Chronos view.
Organize by prio points
The Organize by prio points option is the default view. It lists all prio points in priority order, with their dependent activities and other project entries as children. This view tends to show the most immediate activities high up in the list, and is good when looking for ways to optimize the plans.
Organize by people
The Organize by people option groups activities by assigned person. It is useful when you want to see what each team member is scheduled to do. On a person row, all days with scheduled work are marked with color. You can use the hover pop up to see what is scheduled on each day.
This view can be used to find possible idle time, and to get an overview of your personal schedule.
Organize by Project
Organize by Project creates a hierarchical view corresponding to the project tree view used on other pages. This way you can get an overview of the schedule for individual projects.
The project row has an indication of how much work is scheduled on each day. The indicator bar grows taller and darker the more work is scheduled on that day.
You can use the hover pop up to see up to three of the scheduled activities for each day. Right click to lock the pop up, and use right and left arrow keys to step it one day at a time.
The total amount of work scheduled is displayed to the right of every project list row.
There are four options to color activities on the timeline
Color by people:
Activities are colored by the personal color of the assigned person.
Color by project:
Each project is assigned a color and activities are colored accordingly.
Color by activity group:
Activities are colored by the group they belong to, if any.
Use one color:
Everything is blue.
There are four buttons under information to alter what information is displayed. All options are not available for all view types.
Show uncertainty as box plot
If you enable Show Uncertainty as Box Plot all rows get a box plot indicator for when they are likely to be done.
The hide completed option removes all completed or reached entries from the list. These are the entries with green background.
Show availability probability for people
The Show availability probability for people option is only valid for the Organize by People view type. It ads a background gradient indicating how likely each person is to have scheduled work on any given date, according to the Monte Carlo simulation. The background is darker the more likely it is that the person will have scheduled work.
Use the hover pop up to see an actual value for the probability. You can right click to lock the hint and use left and right arrow keys to step one day at a time.
Show milestone cumulative probability distribution
This options ads a cumulative probability distribution plot to every milestone row. It displays the same kind of information as the box plot, but with more detail and resolution. For every date the plot shows how likely it is that the milestone will be reached on or before this date. This plot thus grows from zero to 100 % over time.
If a project has a discrete risk with a big impact, it may be that the milestone will either finish early or late, but unlikely in-between. This is difficult to read out from a box plot, but becomes more obvious when seeing the cumulative probability distribution. If the probability does not change from one day to another, and the plot is flat, it is unlikely that anything will happen on this day.
You can only visualize one sequence of events in a Gantt chart. The most reasonable scenario to display is based on the expected work needed for each individual activity. This may however not be the most likely outcome for the project as a whole, especially when looking far into the future.
The expected outcome is the theoretical average you would get if you independently completed the activity infinitely many times. The expected outcome of rolling a six sided die is 3.5. You will never roll 3.5 on a die, but if you rolled 1000 dies and summed the result, you can expect it to be close to 3500.
If you need to finish activity A, B and C before milestone M is reached, the date for M is decided not by the average but by the slowest of the activities. This is one reason why the expected outcome schedule may be more optimistic than the statistics derived from the Monte Carlo simulation.
Another is discrete risks. If a risk has a probability of failure smaller than 50%, its failure path activities will not be scheduled in the expected outcome schedule. They are however accounted for in the statistical information.
The PlanMinder assumes an exponential probability distribution for the work required to complete an activity, based on your estimates. This distribution is not symmetrical, and has a long tail. An activity can never take less than zero hours to complete, but it could theoretically be cursed by bad luck and go on forever. This also mean that theoretically most activities will finish a little bit faster than what the expected outcome displays.
You may raise concerns that you do not think that some of your activities matches an exponential distribution. And that is probably true. The exponential distribution is a reasonable assumption when you do not have more information. When you sum up many small stochastic variables, as you do when simulating a project plan, the overall distribution tends to become more and more like the normal distribution. So it is basically not worth the trouble to try the cognitive complex task to also estimate a probability distribution for every activity.
Probability theory can be difficult to intuitively understand. The “Run a single randomized scheduler” button can help you. When pressed, a single randomized project simulation is scheduled. Every activity is scheduled with a random amount of work based on the estimations.
Every time the button is pressed, a new scenario is displayed. This may help you understand what might happen. And it may help you realize that the expected outcome schedule you normally see is not a precise prediction of what will happen.
A common task for project and department managers is to optimize plans by changing resource allocation and priorities.
You can optimize your plan for time to market, cost, or risk. Probably you need to find a balance between all three.
For short term planning, the “Organize by Prio Points” view type is good for finding optimization possibilities. The highest priority milestones are on top. You can look for an activity with framed days, indicating that it is, or will be, ready to start, but the assigned person is busy. Then scroll down to find a suitable person working on something with lower priority, that can do the higher priority activity instead.
A bit into the future the schedule becomes a bit too blurred for fine tuned optimizations to be meaningful. You can get a feel for this from the size of the box plots, especially if you enable box plots for activities with the “Show uncertainty as Box Plots” option.
For this the “Organize by People” view type combined with “Show Availability Probability for People” option may help. This way you can see who is more likely to be available, and reassign them to activities in other projects.
To avoid sub optimizing one project to the decrement of the overall best, you can switch to the collapsed view for “Organize by PrioPoint” to see what happens to milestone box plots and deadline probabilities for all projects. A quicker way may be to switch to the same view on the Priolist page. You can also look at the “Organize by Projects” overview to see when different projects will be active.
When the order in which activities are completed is not important, the automatic scheduler will choose to schedule the most uncertain activity first. If you for some reason do want to control the order, you will have to add fake dependencies. Or you can ignore the scheduled order and work on them in the order you prefer. If it is not important, it will not matter, and the schedule will be updated based on the work you do report.
Remember that The PlanMinder is not your boss.
Switching tasks takes time. If one person completes an activity, and then starts a dependent activity, the scheduler assumes that work will continue the same day. But if the dependent activity is done by someone else, the scheduler assumes that work will start the next day.
Normally this effect is marginal, and reflects the real world better. It does however make the scheduler less suitable if you have many small activities that takes less than one day to complete.
The scheduler does not account for any delay to start an external activity, approve a checkpoint or determine the outcome of a discrete risk.
Sometimes you do not know who to assign an activity to. You can then use the Someone Imaginary user. This user works according to the base schedule, is proficient in all tasks, and can clone themselves to work on multiple things simultaneously. This way you can see when a project would be likely to finish if you had all the resources you wish for.
You can use this to test what a difference an addition to your team would make, or just to leave the assignment open until you can assign it to a real person.
Unfortunately this Someone is an Imaginary friend, that will not actually do any work. You will need to reassign the work to real people. You can easily see work assigned to Someone Imaginary both in the “Organize by People” view type, and on the similar view on the Priolist page. The imaginary user is indicated with a (?) symbol instead of the normal person symbol.
Some developers has a team symbol instead of the normal developer person symbol. They are functionally the same, but indicates that this represents a team rather than a single person, and may be capable of doing more than eight hours of work each day.
This can be used for the likes of self organized software teams, or for support functions from other departments.
The Priority list page is where you set priorities for your projects, or to be more precise, for your prio points. A prio point is a milestone marked as a prio point, and everything that is to be scheduled must have a direct or indirect dependency connection to a prio point.
The order of the prio points in the list determines in which order activities are scheduled.
On the right side is a timeline showing box and whiskers plots of when the milestones are projected to be reached. You can switch between tabs above to show other information in this area.
On the left side all prio points in active projects are listed. The prio number is the priority it has. Number 1 is the highest priority. There are columns for project and milestone names. On the right side of the row is a milestone symbol. You can click on the symbol to open the milestone edit dialog.
A red milestone symbol indicates that the prio point is also a deadline, with a fixed date for when it has to be reached. The calculated probability that it will be reached before or on that date is shown as a percentage. If the date has already passed, it will instead say "Late".
To change priority simply drag and drop to rearrange the order of the list. You must have administrator privileges to be able to do that. When you change priorities, The PlanMinder immediately starts the scheduler to create a new schedule according to the new priority order. This will update the information on the right side, and you can see what effect your change has.
You can scroll the list, if it is long, using the mouse scroll wheel.
Prio points that have been reached will be listed below the prioritized milestones. They will have a check mark symbol instead of a priority number. They will be removed from the list when the project status is changed to completed or closed.
You can have more than one prio point in a project to have more control over the schedule. When you click on a prio point row to select it, it will be marked in purple. The circle of any other prio points in the same project will also turn purple.
Prio points in the same project can be dependent of one another. If you make the priority order in the list opposite to their dependencies, they will not make sense. This will be indicated by an arrow symbol on the prio point that needs (and implicitly gets) higher priority. You can click on the arrow symbol to automatically put it in a correct order, or you can drag and drop it manually.
The timeline area on the right side displays when a milestone is likely to be reached as a box and whiskers plot. Use the mouse scroll wheel to zoom in and out on the time scale. Hold down the left mouse button to pan.
The X indicates the date it will be reached according to the expected outcome schedule. The box and whiskers plot shows statistical data from the schedulers Monte Carlo simulation run. The middle bar indicates the median date. It is equally probable that the milestone will be reached before as after this date. The green box indicates dates from the first to the third quartile. It is at least a 50 % chance, according to the simulations, that the milestone will be reached at one of these dates. The left whisker indicates the day where it is less then 10 % probability that it will be reached earlier. The right whisker indicates a date where it is 90 % certain that it will have been reached.
For deadlines the deadline date is indicated on the timeline with a red milestone symbol.
Hold the mouse pointer over a day in the timeline area to display the date.
If you switch to the dates tab, you will see the same information as on the timeline, but in a table format.
The availability tab displays an overview of when your team members have scheduled work, and when they are available.
The top row shows the box and whiskers plot for the prio point selected in the milestone priority list. Then all users that are developers are listed. For each person, days where they have scheduled work according to the expected outcome schedule are marked with solid green. If the work is for the project of the selected prio point, it is marked with purple. This way you can get an overview of when work is done on a project, and by whom.
You can hold the mouse pointer over a marked day to see what activity is scheduled.
The green background gradient color for each day indicates how likely it is, according to the Monte Carlo simulation, that the person will have any work scheduled on a particular day. The mouse over hint will show the probability as a number. The farther into the future you are looking, the more smeared out the probability for scheduled work will be.
This view helps you discover opportunities to optimize plans, and discover possible bottlenecks.
The question mark symbol is for the Someone Imaginary virtual developer.
The reports page lets you create reports and explore both historical data and the planned future.
The page has three tabs.
Create, read or edit project reports.
Various tools to explore what has happened in projects up to this date.
Create diagrams and tables with data both from the past and the future using various selection mechanisms.
The intended use of project reports are to regularly summarize what has happened in a project, and its current status. It can use a mixture of automatically generated content and written text. They are often used as a summary overview for upper management, and are valuable as historical records.
Reports are created at the project level, and data is gathered for the time elapsed since the last report.
The reports are built up of discrete labeled elements. You can create an overview by showing one element for all the newest project reports, or from all historical reports for one project. It may therefore be a good idea to create some standard for what your project reports should contain.
The project report tab has three areas: A project tree view on the left, a project report view area in the middle and a report edit area on the right.
To create a new report, first select the project you want to create a report for in the project tree view. A green button will appear in the edit area, labeled “New Report for PROJECT NAME”. Click on it to create a new report. You can only create reports you are the designated manager for, unless you have Admin privileges. And only for active projects.
If you previously have created reports for this project, the new project will use the last one as a template and have the same elements. If it is the first report a standard template will be used.
There is an overview of all possible elements in a later chapter. Some are automatically filled with information, others expects you to write text. Just click in the text field and start typing.
To add a new element, click on the add element button in the edit header field. This opens a dialog where you can add one of the available element types. A report cannot have more than one element with the same label. This is why some buttons are grayed out.
Above every element in the report, you can see its label and some tool icons. This is what the tools do:
Delete report element: Deletes the element from the report.
Move down: Changes the order of the element in the report.
Move up: Changes the order of the element in the report.
Make area larger: Increases the height of the element.
Make area smaller: Decreases the height of the element.
Settings: Dialog with checkbox options for the element. Check “Copy text to new reports” to copy the entered text as part of the template next time you create a new report. “Use monospace font” changes the font. Both options are especially useful when using value keywords in the text.
Value Keyword tool: Toggles visibility for the value keyword tool. You can add special keywords in your text that in view mode will be replaced with calculated values.
Copy Image to clipboard: Will copy an image of the element to the clipboard. You can paste the image in some other document.
Copy text to clipboard / Copy data as text to clipboard: Will copy the text of the element to the clipboard, or for a plot, copy the data of the plot as text to the clipboard.
Not all tools are available for all element types.
You can view previous reports in the middle project report view area while editing as a comparison.
You can also click the “Edit report in new window” button to move the edited report to a new window. This way you can change tab and use the Follow up or Explore tools while writing your report. Close the window to return the report to the main window. Alternatively you can click the “Dock edit window” button in the Project Reports tab.
If you are updating status or estimates for activities while you are writing your report, you can click the “Update report data” to refresh the automatic elements of the report.
When done editing, click the “Save and close report” button
If you regret ever creating the report, click the “Delete report” button instead.
Project reports are listed in the middle project report view area. Use the project tree view on the left to select what reports to list. The “All Active Projects” at the top will list the most recent reports for all active projects. If you select a category in the tree view the most recent reports for all projects in this category will be shown.
If you select a specific project, all reports for this project are shown.
The filter tool above the tree view decides what projects appear in the tree view based on their status. By default closed and hidden projects are not shown. Neither are projects in the Idea state, but they should not have any reports.
Each report is listed with its creation date and project name. Click on the row to expand and view the full report.
For each element there is a label and some tool icons:
Open graph in new window: This will open graph elements in a new window, that can be made bigger to show more details.
Copy Image to clipboard: Will copy a bitmap image of the plot to the clipboard.
Copy text to clipboard / Copy data as text to clipboard: Will copy the text of the element to the clipboard, or for a plot, copy the data of the plot as text to the clipboard.
Click on the report headline again to collapse the report.
You can sort the reports by date, with the newest at the top
or by project name if you are showing reports from different projects.
Instead of expanding full reports, you can create an overview by expanding specific elements for all listed reports.
Click on the “Select report elements to expand” button to open the dialog. Check the element label or labels you want to expand, and then click “Done”.
You can still fully expand reports in this mode.
The info element shows basic project information about reported work, estimated work left and the priority it has.
The green field show the total amount of work reported, and within parenthesis how much has been reported since the last project report was created.
The middle yellow field shows how much work is estimated to remain, with the change since last report within parenthesis. The values shown are the expectancy values. On the left values for different confidence levels are shown. P50 for example means that there is an estimated 50 % chance, according to the Monte Carlo simulation, that it will be completed in less time. The Work left values includes all estimated activities, not just scheduled activities.
On the right the priority assigned to the projects prio point is shown. If the project has more than one prio point, the highest and lowest values are shown.
Text elements are simply text fields. You can create your own labels for text fields. The Summary and Report label text fields are default and part of the default template. If you click “Add New” you get to name a label. This label will be shown as it own create button in the dialog, as long as it exists in any report.
You can add calculated values to a text field by using the keyword tool in edit mode. These keys will be replaced by a value in view mode.
The milestones element lists all milestones of all types in the project, together with status information.
Statistics of when it is projected to be reached is shown for all milestones, or when is was reached if it has been. For deadlines the deadline date and probability is shown. For prio points the priority value is listed.
The progress element is a bar graph with one bar for this and each previous report. It shows work done in green, expected work left in orange, and a p90 value for work left in transparent orange. P90 meaning that it is, according to the current estimates, 90 % sure that less work than this is required.
Notes is a special text field that is only visible to the manager of the project. It is a place for the manager to add notes that are valuable only for the project management, but may be unnecessary and confusing to any one else.
A single text line, in a bold font. May be useful if you want a super short summary of the project status. Maybe even a single emoji (win + . to open the windows emoji keyboard).
This element type displays a pie chart showing how much remaining work is scheduled on different persons.
To edit a report, click on the edit symbol on the report headline. The report will be opened in the edit area. You can edit it the same way as when you create a new report.
The update report data button will update calculated values, if new information is available for the report period. It will not use data regarding dates after the report date. Some information, such as milestone status, can not be updated as its historical values can not be recreated.
You can never change the creation date for a report.
You can delete a project report, but be careful. You can not undo or recreate the deleted information. If you delete a report between two existing reports, you may want to update data in the following report so that it represents the new period, as it now has another previous report.
It is a good idea to agree on a standard format for reports, so that the overview tools can be used to full potential, and so that the intended readers gets the information they are interested in. You can then add extra elements to the report for special project needs.
Regularly writing project reports is valuable even if no one reads them. This enables a habit of reviewing, updating and reflecting on the project as a project manager. The generated reports are also valuable when learning from past projects, when you easily can follow what has happened, and with good reports, why.
It is also a good idea to make sure activity statuses and estimates are up to date before creating the report. You can check in the reported time overview on the home page that all team members have committed their time reports.
The “Follow up” tab, described in the next chapter, is a good tool to use to check what has happened in the project when writing a report.
The follow up tab contains tools to investigate what has happened in projects. On the left side is a project tree view to select what you want to get information on. On the right is an information display area. The three tabs are used to display information in three different ways.
The Reports and Updates tab lets you see time reports and activity update reports.
The Timeline lets you see the work done on a timeline. Its like a Gantt chart, but for what actually has happened.
The Diagrams tabs lets you create diagrams for your selected data.
The left side of the Follow up tab is used to select what data you want to see. The most important setting is the “Show work from” date setting in the upper left corner. Data will be shown from that date and up to today.
The by Developer drop down lets you filter so that you only see (or highlight) work done by one person. Default is Everyone, which includes all reported work.
Below is a project tree view, where you can select a category, project, group or activity to show work for. There is also an “All Projects” option to include all reported work in the selected time period.
The tree view has the search and filter functions common to most tree views in the program.
Reports and updates lists time report entries and activity updates in a list. This works the same way as the list in the “Update Activity Status” tab on the Report Time page.
Above the list information about the selected item is displayed.
If you select “All Projects” or a category, only activity update reports are listed. Time reports are filtered by the “by Developer” setting, activity update reports are not.
You can change how the list is displayed by clicking on the filter button, giving you the following alternatives.
At the bottom there is a row showing statistics for the activity. You can select multiple time report rows by shift and ctrl clicking on them, and see the sum of the work they represent.
The timeline view displays the reported work on a timeline. The current date and the selected data are marked with purple.
You can navigate the timeline as other timelines. Use the scroll wheel to zoom and hold left mouse button to pan. You can also use the w, a, s, d keys, + and - to zoom, and press h to reset the pan.
For each day a green bar indicates how much work has been reported. The bar gets higher and darker the more work it represents. Hold the mouse cursor over a bar to see how much work it represents. Right click to see up to five time report entries. Right and left keys moves the information bubble one day at a time.
If you have the “by Developer” filter active, work reported by the selected person will be displayed with orange bars on top of the green bars.
The diagram tab lets you create different types of diagrams for your selected data. The options toolbar above the plot area lets you choose what information and how to display it.
Choose to display
as Time or Cost
And finally you can select to show up to three charts.
In the top right corner of the diagram area you will find a few tool icons.
Open in new window: Opens the diagram in a new window.
Copy image to clipboard. Puts a bitmap copy of the image in the clipboard
Copy data to clipboard as text. Puts the data used by the chart as text in the clipboard. It can for example be pasted into a spreadsheet.
Toggle 3D. Toggles a 3D effect on the diagram.
Toggle legend: Toggles showing a plot legend on the right, above or not at all.
Rotate bottom axis labels. Rotating the labels can be useful if they are to long and overlapping.
Change bar stacking: Switches between different ways to stack bars.
Change mark information: Switches between different information to put in pie chart marks.
Toggle marks: Turns pie charts marks on and off.
Change color palette: Switches between 16 preset color palettes.
The explore tab gives you tools to explore information from all your projects, past, present and future. You select conditions for data to be entered into a matrix. This data can then be plotted in various diagrams. You can double click on a matrix cell to see and further investigate the data that makes up this cell.
The selection filter creates conditions that all data in the matrix must meet. By data we mean time reports entries or future scheduled work entries.
The most important one is the date condition. Entries before the start date or after the end date are not included. The single arrows on the right and left side of each date steps the date one week. The double left arrows moves the date to the very first entry date, so that all time reports will be included. The double right arrows moves the date to the last scheduled entry, so that all planned work is included.
You can expand the selection filter area by dragging the divider, or by clicking on the down arrow. This reveals more filter options.
On the right side you can select specific projects, activity groups or activities, specific people or specific work types. Only entries that match your selection will be included. On the right side you can create conditions for specific states.
There are three symbols reoccurring on the left side, to select a data condition type.
The project symbol lets you select projects, activity groups or activities.
The developer symbol lets you select specific people.
The work type symbol lets you select work types.
The row and column areas lets you define what rows and columns you want in your matrix. Select the condition type and click the check boxes for the things you want. Each cell in the matrix will include data that meets the selection filter conditions and the corresponding row and column conditions.
Above the selection there is a small tool set:
Switch row and column
Select / Unselect all siblings to the marked item
Select all children to the marked item
Unselect all children to the marked item
Unselect all items
Below the main selection area are check boxes for special additional columns. You can expand them by clicking on the up arrow to see all options.
These additional rows / columns do not add conditions, but rather calculations on the data selected by the row or column.
On the right side the resulting data matrix is shown. Above the matrix is a tool set.
You can choose between showing hours of work in the matrix, or have it converted to cost according to the hour cost setting for each developer.
The Show Matrix as buttons will open a new window with the matrix shown as a stacked bar graph. The graph window tool bar is explained here.
You can click in the matrix to select a row and a column. The Show selected row / column buttons will display this data as a graph in a new window.
Shows a pie chart where each row / column is a pie slice.
Shows a bar chart with one bar for each row / column.
Shows one bar for each week in the time period, with rows / columns in different colors.
Shows one bar for each month in the time period, with rows / columns in different colors.
The rightmost button in the toolbar copies the matrix as text to the clipboard. You can for example paste it in a spread sheet.
If you double click on a cell in the matrix an entries exploration window will open. This will not work for cells belonging to any of the additional rows or columns, such as the sum row.
In this window all the entries that meet the conditions of the cell are listed. This table can be copied as text with the “Copy data to clipboard as text” button.
The drop down menu shows available columns. You can select one and use the button to add or remove a column from the table.
Click on a column header to sort the list by the data in that column.
You can select rows by clicking on them. Hold shift or ctrl to select multiple rows. Below the list you can see statistics about the list as a total, and about the selected entries. You can remove entries from the list with the “Remove selected entries” button. The “Keep selected entries” button removes all entries that are not selected.
The settings page has a collection of tools to configure and manage your The PlanMinder instance. Some settings are personal, but most require Administrator privileges to use.
The page is divided into these tabs
The about page contains version and contact information.
The system information on the right side contain some details about your system and database. You can select and copy this text. If you ever will encounter a problem, including this information in your support request may be helpful.
The Users tabs lists the users in your instance of The PlanMinder. As an administrator, you can create, edit or delete users here. This is also where all users can change their own login password.
To change your own password, click on the row of your user in the list, and then on the “Change Password” button.
If you have administrative rights, with a checkbox in the Adm column in the list, you can change password of other users too.
If a user has no UserName in the table, they can not log in and does not have a password. The delete option in the change password dialog removes the UserName from the user, preventing them from logging in at all. It will not delete the user. You can enter a new username and password if you click “Change Password” again.
Clicking the “New User” button will open a create new user dialog. Here is a short description of the fields:
Click OK to close dialog and create the user.
Double clicking on a row, or selecting it and clicking the “Edit User” button, will open a similar edit user dialog. The edit dialog does not contain the User Name and password entries.
You can not delete a user on this tab. Deleting a user affects a lot of other information potentially associated with the user, both currently and historically. You can delete users with a tool on the Manage Data tab. You can edit the user and remove the login and all privileges from a user that is no longer active.
At the end of each user row, there is one or possibly two buttons.
The login link creates a link with all login information, except the password, and copies it to the clipboard. You can send this link to a user, or create a shortcut on your desktop. When the link is clicked on a system with The PlanMinder installed, the login dialog will open with all login information entered, except password. You can also use the paste button in the login window to pass the information.
If The PlanMinder Online is enabled in your registration, there will also be a login link button for The PlanMinder Online. This link opens The PlanMinder Online in a web browser. You can read more about The PlanMinder Online here.
There is a special user called Someone Imaginary. Why this special imaginary user exists is explained in Someone Imaginary virtual developer.
This user can not be deleted, and editing is limited to name and initials.
The Categories tab contains the editable list of categories. Categories are used in the project tree views to group projects. Instructions are available on the right side on the page, and you can read the Setting up The PlanMinder for Your Organization guide for further tips on how to create meaningful categories for your organization.
The Work Types tab contains the editable tree structure for work types. Work types are used to categorize work, so that it can be identified regardless of what project it belongs to. Instructions are available on the right side, and you can read the Setting up The PlanMinder for Your Organization for further tips on how to create meaningful work types.
The Hour cost tab contains the editable list of hour cost definitions. They are associated with users, and are used to convert hours of work to monetary value. Select the currency used on the System Settings tab.
Instructions are available on the right side on the page.
The system settings tab contains a list of instance wide system settings on the left side, and local user preferences on the right side.
If you are not tracking if individual time report entries are billable or not, set this to false. This will hide this option, in dialogs, like on the report time page.
There are three settings that relates to how costs are displayed.
Set the time of day a typical work day starts. This is used by the scheduler to determine how much work can be scheduled on the current day.
You need to register your database to be able to get license keys, including the trial license, and to run the scheduler. There are instructions on the right side.
When registering you will be sent a confirmation email. You must click on the link in the email to complete the registration.
You will set a registration password when first registering. You must provide this password to change your registration information, and to read out the information stored with Auspicia AB. If you make changes that fail to be uploaded, the information you see may come out of sync with the stored information. You can click the “Read Registration” button to read back the stored information.
The License Keys tab is where you handle license keys. On the left is a list of your stored license keys.
On the top right you can see current status.
Click “Download Keys” to check the license server for new keys and automatically download them. You can download your trial license keys this way after you have completed the registration process.
“Load Key from File” is a backup method you can use if the download does not work. You can install license keys sent to you by mail this way.
The “Buy License Keys” button opens a browser window where you can buy new license keys for your database. To ensure that correct information is available when issuing license keys, this is the only way to open the web page. The web page will automatically suggest keys based on your current need. Check that they are correct and make adjustments. Download the new keys when the purchase is complete.
Each license key file can contain keys for a maximum of 12 developers, valid for between one and three months. Multiple files are used when you have more than 12 developers.
Payments are handled by the payment processor Stripe. Credit card numbers are not handled by Auspicia AB.
If you do not have sufficient license keys, and have seven or less developers, you have the option to enter Free Tier Mode. Tick the checkbox, and Free Tier Mode will be enabled until you do get sufficiently licensed, you exceed the seven developer limit or until you uncheck the box.
Monte Carlo simulations and associated uncertainty calculations are not available in the Free Tier Mode. Neither is The PlanMinder Online service. Automatic scheduling, and all other functionality, is still available. You can read more in this article.
In Free Tier Mode the status symbol will be changed to an F. This symbol will also be shown on the Home Page, to make users aware of the reduced functionality.
The Manage Data lets you manage data in you database. There are tools to delete, anonymize and export data. These tools are designed to help you comply with privacy legislation, policies and guidelines.
Instructions are available on the right side of the page.
Scenario Mode lets you make changes and see the effects they have, without disturbing the main plan everybody normally sees and follows. The Scenario is stored, and can be viewed and edited by others. If you decide that the changes you have made are good, you can apply the scenario, and will be transferred to the main plan.
You can use Scenario Mode to test changes and optimize plans. You can for example activate a new project in a scenario to see what effect it would have on other projects it is competing for resources with. You could assign work and priorities to find an optimal plan. You could create several scenarios to test different options, and present them on a meeting to decide which one to implement.
You could use Scenarios to test what happens if … Where if could be failing a discrete risk, simulating by setting the probability to 100 %, or what would happened if you lost or added a team members, changed scope or any other scenario you find interesting.
You can use a Scenario to keep a plan B ready. The Scenario stores only the changes you make, so your plan B would be kept up to date with other changes as the project progresses. You can open it to see if it still is a working solution to a potential problem, and adapt as necessary. If the day comes where you need your plan B, you can activate it with a simple click on the "Use Scenario" button.
You enter Scenario Mode by clicking the button on the Kairos page. You will have the option to either create a new scenario, or open an existing one.
Once in Scenario Mode the application background color will change, the scenario name will be displayed in the application title bar, and the main tabs will change. The Report Time tab will be hidden. You can not report time in a scenario. The Home tab will be replaced with a Scenario Mode tab. Some settings that can not be changed as part of a scenario will be disabled on the settings page, project reports page, and on the Work Schedule page.
Except for that, you can edit plans and run the scheduler just as normal.
Clicking the Scenario Mode button on the Kairos page again gives you the option to leave Scenario Mode.
The Scenario Mode Page that replaces the Home page has three sections. On the top left you can see and edit the active scenario name and description. You also have five actions you can take:
This section lists all elements that have been changed in the active scenario, with some information about the used settings. When changing an element, all settings for that element are stored. If you for example move an activity in the Kairos view, the position is changed. This also means that all other information about the activity at the time of changed is stored, including name, description, time estimate and asigned developer.
You can delete a change to remove the change from the scenario, and instead use the information from the main plan.
There are three different symbols to indicate what kind of change it is:
The not equal sign mean that an existing element has been changed.
The plus symbol indicates that the element has been created in the scenario.
An X symbol mean that the element is removed in the scenario.
On the right side you can see a list of all stored scenarios, with descriptions and information about when they were created and by whom. You can select a scenario in the list and choose to load it or delete it.
It is a good idea to delete scenarios when they no longer are useful.
A scenario stores and applies changes to the main plan. If the main plan has changed a lot, your scenario may no longer make much sense. For example, if elements have been moved around in the Kairos view in the main plan, it can be messed up in your scenario as the elements changed in the scenario will be on their old positions.
Priority changes are also tricky. All projects with a changed priority number will be stored as a change. If the priorities of the main plan has changed after that, maybe with new projects or some projects completed, the resulting priority order in your scenario may be different from what you think makes sense.
In most cases you will create a scenario to investigate or test something in order to make a decision. When the decision has been made, the scenario has played its role, and you can delete it. When applying a scenario with the Use Scenario button, you will be asked if you want to delete the scenario afterward.
If you want to keep a plan B scenario ready for a longer period of time, you should actively check in on it to see that it is relevant. Keep the number of changes in it as low as possible. You can use the “Changes in active scenario” to delete changes that causes problems, and then make new relevant ones.
You can change the work schedule for people as part of a scenario, but not the general work schedule. You can not create new users as part of a scenario.
Scenario Mode is not available in the Demo.
Other help documents:
Guides for setting up a database:
Guide on how to configure The PlanMinder: