Before you start using The PlanMinder you need to think through how you will be using it, and set it up accordingly. This guide will take you through the following steps:
After that you will be ready to start planning and managing projects.
This guide assumes that you are logged in as a user with Administrator rights (not as a Service user). Otherwise see the Create Users section on how to create one and do that first.
Make sure that your instance of The PlanMinder is registered, and that your trial license is active. There will be a warning triangle on the Home page if it is not.
A good place to start is to set up the Work Schedule. You will find it in the third main tab. Here we will define how long an ordinary work day is, and when there are weekends and holidays
You can read the "Editing the general work schedule" chapter in the manual, if you want more detailed information.
Click on General, which will show the base schedule for everyone on the team. It is empty in a new instance of The PlanMinder.
Click on the Add New Schedule Entry button, and select Normal work day.
This gives you a new entry, where you can set the average length of a work day. Name the entry, and optionally write a comment. Then click the save symbol.
If your normal week does not have a uniform distribution, like if you work 8 hours days all days except Fridays, you can set this up by using the “Weekday is short” rule.
Next add rules for weekends. The "Weekday is holiday" rule makes a weekday, like Sunday, a work free day with red background in the calendar. The "Weekday is free "rule does the same thing, except that the background colour is different. In some countries, like Sweden, there is a meaningful distinction.
When you have done that, weekends should be visible on the calendar timeline.
Next step is to add holidays and other special days. You can do this with the "Day is …" rules, that applies to specific dates. You can also use the “Import holiday calendar” button on the top left. If your country is in the list you can select which years to import, and get the official holidays imported. You should still go through the list to verify that it is correct, complete and valid for your organization.
One final thing regarding your general work schedule is found on the System Settings tab on the Settings page. There is a setting called Start of a typical work day. This is the time of day people normally start to work. When you run the scheduler, this affects how much work the scheduler assigns people on the day it is run. Set it to the nearest hour and click the save button.
On the Settings page there is a tab for System Settings. Many of them are in regards to money. You should set what currency to use, and how many decimals to use when presenting monetary values.
The “Use Billable Flag” is a setting that relates to how you plan to use The PlanMinder.
If set to true, users will have the possibility to flag reported time as billable or not. It will inherit its default setting from the activity definition, which inherits from the project definition.
If you intend to use the time reported in The PlanMinder as a base for billing customers, you can leave this on, and use the flag to differentiate what goes on the bill, and what does not. You will be able to export this information on the Reports page, to prepare invoices.
If you are not going to use The PlanMinder to record billable hours, set “Use Billable Flag” to false. This will hide the icon on the time report and other dialogs.
The PlanMinder is primarily concerned with time, but it can convert time to money. The Hour Cost tab on the settings tab is used to define how to do this. Users are assigned to the default standard rate if not specifically assigned to something else. One hour of work will be converted to this much money.
You decide how detailed you want to be in this section. You can use the standard rate for all team members, or make a more or less detailed differentiation between people.
This can be changed at any time, but time already reported will retain the hour cost at the time of reporting. It is therefore a good idea to set a reasonable default cost from the beginning.
Adding people to The PlanMinder is probably a good next step. You do this in the Users tab on the Settings page.
You create new users with the New User button.
User Name is the login user name, accompanied by a password. Every user can change their own password later.
First Name and Last Name are the names used in The PlanMinder, and when there is a shortage of space, the initials are used in stead.
Email address is currently optional, and is present for convenience only.
Cost / h is what cost per hour entry created under the Hour Cost tab to use for converting time to money for this user. This is only important for users that are Developers.
In addition to name and initials, colours are used to graphically represent different users. You can select an unused colour for the user. Otherwise the system will automatically assign an unused colour. Manually setting the colour assures that it will not change between sessions.
Then there are a number of checkboxes designating properties and authorization for the user.
Any user who will be assigned to tasks and is to report time in The PlanMinder must be designated as a developer. This may not be common terminology for all types of projects, but in The PlanMinder, a person who do work on a project will cause the project to develop, and is called a Developer.
You need a licence key for every user that is a developer, but only for those users.
A user that is a manager can be assigned as a project manager, and can create new projects.
The administrator role or privilege lets a user do administrative tasks in The PlanMinder. Create new users, change other users passwords, change and create Hour Costs, Work Types and Categories, and manage the general work schedule, as well as the work schedule of other users.
The Administrator role is a powerful one, and should not be granted to users that do not need it.
This is a flag that signals that this user represents a whole team. In practise this just changes the symbol used for the user. It is there if you want to schedule work on a homogeneous team of several people, without caring about the individuals. This should be accompanied by a Work Schedule modifier indicating how much work this team can do per day.
This is a flag signalling that this is a role you are using in your plans for the future, but this person has not been hired yet, or at least it is not yet known who it will be.
This flag signals that the user is part of the regular team. If you often have temps or consultants, you can use this to signal the difference. It affects sort order in some places, like the work schedule page.
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.
All users that are developers have their own work schedule on the Work Schedule page. You can read more about the rules you can create there on from the manual chapter Editing your work schedule.
There is one rule you may want to set up from the start. The Base Modifier.
People may regulary spend a part of their avarage week on non scheduled tasks, like metings, administration or support. The base modifier tells the scheduler how many percent of the work hours it can schedule on project activities, and how much should be left for unscheduled work. This is important to avoid overly optimistic plans.
You should decide how you will report time before estimating these numbers. When you have used The PlanMinder for a while, you will have statistics and can adjust the numbers to be more accurate.
As you probably have seen from examples, the top level in the project tree view used on many pages are categories. When you start there is only one category, named Projects. You can edit this on the Categories tab on the Settings page.
Use categories to create structure and order in the project tree view. It is worth taking a moment to think this through. You could differentiate between different kinds of projects, or maybe projects in different states. You can move projects between categories, so you could have one category for active projects, one for prospects and one for closed projects. On the other hand, moving projects around can make them harder to find.
If you plan to report all work you and your team does in The PlanMinder, you need categories for non project work too. In The PlanMinder terminology these will be Ongoing projects.
It is not necessary to report non project work in order for the project planning to work. There are however two reasons to do it. One is that it is interesting to know what people do spend their work day on. The other is that it will feel a little weird not to be able to report all your work in The PlanMinder. It will make non project work seem less valuable, and may lead to less accurate reporting in The PlanMinder. Either as users wish to report all their work as “real” project work, even if it is not, or because of forgetfulness, as not all work is supposed to be reported anyway.
You may at least need a Category for “Other” work, like administrative things, general meetings, computer problems, education and whatever else that is part of normal work, but not part of projects.
Depending on your organization you may have use for categories and ongoing projects for product management of existing products, meetings with potential customers or discussions of future projects, and other things like that.
Add a new category by naming it on the (+) sign row and pressing enter. When you delete a Category you will be asked where any existing projects in this category should be moved (even if you do not have any). Deleting a category will not delete the projects it contains. You can not delete the last category. There must be at least one.
When you report work it will be in a hierarchy of activities in activity groups in projects in categories. This hierarchy is what you see in the project tree view on many of the pages, and you can follow up how your teams time has been spent using this hierarchy.
If you do want to know how much time has been spent on a specific type of work, like for instance writing manuals, across all projects the past year, this hierarchy does not help. That is why Work Types exists.
On the Work Types tab on the Settings page you can create and edit work types.
Work types are organized in a two level hierarchy. You can for instance have the main work type “Software” and sub types like “Coding”, “Testing” and “Debugging”.
When you create an activity in a project, you assign a default work type to it. When reporting time, the developer can change the work type from the default suggestion to a more accurate type for the specific entry. Main types can be used even if it contains sub types.
If you have “Manuals” as a work sub type, you can go to the Explore tab on the Data page, and see how much work has been reported as “Manuals”, and by whom, and based on that decide if you need to hire a technical writer or not.
Some thought needs to go in to the creation of the work type hierarchy if it is going to be useful. It needs to be detailed enough to capture the aspects you think will be of interest, but not so detailed that it becomes difficult to use. Remember to have work types for your non project work too.
If you do not care for this function you can classify all work as Other Work and be done with it.
You can not delete work types without specifying what it should be replaced with in existing reports.
If you have decided to report all work in The PlanMinder you will need to create ongoing projects with activities where users can report their non project related work. You do this on the Kairos page.
Select the category where you wish to create your project. Click the Create Project button to create a new project.
Give the project a name, and write a good description. The description is important to get your team to understand the purpose and what work to report in this project.
Set it to be visible to everyone. You, or the department manager, should be Project Manager for this project. Set the project status to Ongoing. Ongoing means that the project is not a real project and is not supposed to ever be finished.
The next step is to add Activities and, if you wish, activity groups. Groups are added with the New Group button. Activities are added by right clicking on the work area and selecting Activity from the pie menu.
For activities it is again important to have a good name and description.
You can, for general tasks that everybody should report time on, leave the developer as the same person that is manager for the project. If it is a task that one person has the main responsibility for, assign it to them instead.
Set the appropriate default work type.
Set the Activity Status to Ongoing, and ignore the Time Estimate.
As this is an ongoing project with ongoing tasks, there should not be any milestones or dependencies. However there is nothing that prevents you from adding task connected to prio points in an ongoing project. These will be scheduled like in any other project.
If you have done all steps above in this guide you have done all preparations you need to do inside the The PlanMinder. There is however one thing you should decide before starting to use The PlanMinder, and that is how you will report time.
One aspect has been mentioned before. Will you report all your work in The PlanMinder, or only work relating to projects?
If you are going to report all work, does that mean every paid minute, or just work worth reporting?
It may seem natural to make sure that the work reported in The PlanMinder matches the length of the day. If the work days are divided between just two or three tasks, with few interruptions, this may work well.
If there are many interruptions and / or the day is divided between several smaller tasks, the report everything approach may be problematic. Detailed and accurate reporting will be an effort, and will take time away from actual work. Ignoring interruptions and including them in the major tasks of the day may lead to significant misrepresentation.
In this case using the approach to only report work worth reporting may be better. Treat the difference between reported work and work day length as miscellaneous work.
If your team is not used to detailed time reports, you can expect some resistance when introducing it. It may feel like surveillance. The softer reporting principle, and the disconnect from pay check work hours reports, may ease this a bit.
Whichever principle you use, make sure everyone understands it and use the same principle. Adjust the base modifier in the work schedule accordingly for all users.
This decision also affects how you estimate time. In The PlanMinder you do your estimates in hours. That is a unit everyone understands, and it can be translated into scheduled calendar time taking into account how much different people work each day.
If you think you can finish a task within a calendar week, which is a normal way to think about time, you should convert it to how much time you usually are reporting on scheduled tasks in a week. Your reporting principle may affect how much time this is, and it may be different for different people depending on how much non scheduled tasks they usually are burdened with.
Another principle to decide upon is how often you should submit work reports. The best way is to report continuously, and commit the report at the end of the day. This quickly becomes a habit and produces the most accurate reporting. Submitting reports once a week may seem to be enough, but it does have two major drawbacks. One is that submitting time reports becomes a chore, and one that is easy to forget and that you will have to remind people of. The other is that the information in The PlanMinder at times will be at least one week out of date.
These are the things recommended you do before starting to use The PlanMinder. You can always change these things later, and it may be a good idea to start simple and expand later when you know what you really need. But you should set up something reasonable to begin with, as you probably have by now.
Next, add real projects and start working, reaping the benefits of using The PlanMinder!