You've just created an account to use GroupCamp Project and would like some help on how to get started. Success in online project management also depends on how easily project members find their project items once they sign in. The guidelines below describes the key steps to be followed before inviting project members.
What is a project ? Do I need one or more projects ?
Deciding what you should put into your online project within GroupCamp depends on the answers to two questions:
- What content should be shared within the project and who should acces this content. Please note that members of a project can access all the shared data in a project
1) Enter key project deadlines and milestones
If your project was already launched and has key project dates (milestones), use the Milestone application to share these dates with all members
- Use phrases to describe your milestones,: « Project kick-off meeting » « Product presentation seminar »
- Set dates on all your milestones
- Select an owner for each milestone. The owner is in charge of all tasks related to the milestone.
GroupCamp Project comes with strong task management features to make it easy to assign and track tasks within a project from different perspectives.
Managing an endless list of tasks is not efficient. So the first obvious way of organizing and tracking tasks is to organize them into lists.
To be able to manage your tasks and plan ahead, Project allows you to tack tasks from different angles:
You need a view per assignee. You can use the filter system to know who added tasks in a project and to whom it was assigned.
You also need to track tasks which were assigned to you to do your own personal planning. You can use the Tasks application in the Personal page for that.
Tracking tasks by their due dates or by project milestones is also key. GroupCamp Project allows you to set due dates on tasks and also to link tasks lists to milestones. Use the Schedule viewer in a project's Overview app to get a view of upcoming due dates and milestones.
Because we know that managers need more than lists to organize their tasks, every task can be tagged with a type as cross-reference. Types can be used in tasks to represent priority levels, company activity or group or product version. The view by types provides you another useful strategic view to track tasks.
Time tracking is often considered by project participants as an annoying overhead within projects. The result is that the data collected by the process is often incomplete or inaccurate. Two main reasons for this are: 1) the process is often led by a single person for whom it is felt as a hassle 2) the reporting tool is often hard to access and the data entry format is a complex one.
Project comes with a Timelog app for time tracking. Any user can enter time records on any activity within a project. To make the time reporting feature as accessible as possible it is also integrated with the Tasks application. Every project participant when updating or completing a task can record the numberof hours spent on a task, and indicate whether they are billable to an end-customer.
The format of a time record is designed to be as simple as possible: it only requires a time, date and description.
Because the Timelog app only takes care of the data collection part, we have made it easy for managers to export their reports in Excel or csv format for more thorough analysis.
Please note that when exporting a project all time records will be exported in an excel spreadsheet. In the tasks application export, the estimated time for all project tasks will also be made available.
If you are a project manager on a tight budget, accurate time estimation is a key skill. It is important that you get time estimates right for all your tasks and more generally for all your task lists to get your project costing right especially if you are billing a customer for it.
In GroupCamp Project you can enter the time estimate for a task. This will give you a total of time estimates per task list. By using time estimates project managers can pre-configure a project before the project is launched by specifying the key milestones for the project and describing the resources needed for a project. The project manager can then have a fully calibrated project that can be shown to the management team for decision-making about scope, priority and budget.
This allows project leads to check whether their estimation makes sense based on the availability of internal resources.
Managing workload per user
Once the time estimates are entered for each project, you can filter your task application to have a view of the total time estimate for a particular project member. The total time estimate for a given project members gives an idea of the workload for that particular project member. It allows project managers to make decisions on resource allocation or on setting new priorities on the different tasks required within the project.
Managing workload per task type
The Task application allow project managers to set types on each and every task. When using task types, it is possible to have a view of the total time estimates for every task type. For example, if you have a task list for « New customer request » and your tasks are cross-referenced with « Design » and « IT », you will obtain time estimates totals for both the workload represented by the new customer request and the load for the IT group and the Design group for that activity.
Dedicating a project per customer is a variety of situations including consulting companies, lawyers and Design agencies.
The dedicated project is shared by the project manager of the company who owns the groupCamp account and also their entry points within the customer organisation.
The timelog application is used by to enter time records on all. This has the benefit of transparency. The customer can have a clear view of the status of their projects, the deliverables and the amount of billable hours for their project.
Less time is wasted in emails and phone calls to enquire about the status of on-going tasks.
How can you manage recurring projects?
If all your client projects follow the same recurring patterns in terms of milestones and task lists, you can define a project template in which all your common task lists and files are described. Please note that you can set the default names of folders in the Files applications for your recurring projects.
Each time a project manager creates a new client project he or she will then import the relevant task lists from the template project and will simply have to adjust the corresponding due dates and milestones for the new project.
This process saves a significant amount of time and ensures that no task or task list is left out during client projects
Start by creating companies in the Admin section and invite users from those companies. When you create a multi-company project, add the companies which should participate. In a multi-company project you can decide if a file or a task list is private or not. If you have multiple companies you can decide which one of them can see a private file. For example if you have multiple versions of a file you can mark them as private in the initial drafts. Once you reach a version that can be shared with outside companies, if the file is no longer marked as private, it will be shared by selected companies.
To share files with your clients and prtners, simply add users from outside companies to your project to access the secure extranet (SSL 256 bits - https access) with a controlled access.
Why use an extranet ?
• Share project content with your clients, suppliers and partners. Collaborate more efficiently without having to go through contant call conferences or drowning your clients in endless emails.
• Company daily management, for a club, a non-profit organisation, an internal department.
• To prepare a major event
• To start a collaborative writing project on a report or any project deliverable
• To launch an open project dedicated to new ideas
Extranet Study Case 1 : Sharing files in a managed workspace.
If you want to share files only in a secure extranet you can choose to enable only the Files application in one of your projects. The files will be available to the invited users and tou can select the relevant users to whom you wish to grant access.
Why use GroupCamp Project for your extranet :
• you can set different user rights for users depending on their company, for example vous pouvez autoriser ou interdire à vos invités le chargement de nouveaux documents dans le projet,
• you can enable the 'downloading history feature for every file. This feature allows you to make sure that a shared files has been downloaded by clients an partners.
• you can decide whether to authorise email notifications and whether to enable comments by email replies.
Extranet Study Case 2 : Add discussions to your extranet
You can add the Discussions application to your project. You can then organise discussions into topics. Invited users can then access discussions by signing into the project extranet and add their comments.
Why GroupCamp Projet :
• you authorise or deny users the right to create discussions or topics.vous pouvez autoriser ou interdire la création de nouvelles rubriques par vos invités, idem pour les discussions,
• you can decide whether to authorise email notifications to be sent out by the application. This means that comments can only be added by users who sign into the online project.
Extranet Study Case 3 : Use your extranet for collaborative writing
You can add the Wiki application to a project, to create pages on which several users can collaborate. Each page can be linked with a simple http link. Invited users can add their contributions, and edit existing content. You can also send out pages by email for followers to comment.
Extranet Study Case 4 : With your extranet, assign tasks to project members
Add the Tasks application to your project. You can decide to which member the task should be assigned. All members with access to the extranet can have a clear view of all project responsibilities. They can then ask for support for specific items to the relevant project members.
Why GroupCamp Project :
• users can work on the same tasks and can update a given tasks with different types or with comments.
• users can organise tasks into task lists which represent specific topics,
• users can decide whether invited users can add new task lists or new tasks,
• users can set priority levels on tasks (Ex: Urgent, Medium, Low)
Extranet Study Case 5 : If you have to meet tight deadlines, share a project schedule with all your project members.
Your extranet can become a collaborative project. You can add the Milestones application, which will allow you to put down all the key deadlines for your project. The corresponding project schedule is then displayed in the project overview so that all project members share the same view of the project scope and timeframes.
Extranet Study Case 6 : If time is critical for you...
The Timelog & Timesheets applications are what you need. By adding the Timelog application to a project, all members will be able to enter time records corresponding to the time spent collaborating on the project.
With your extranet, collaboration is simpler, faster more secure and more efficient.
All GroupCamp applications are strongly integrated with email. And even with the best online project management tool, email remains the most used communication tool of all business users. But email as a service has its own drawbacks. and needs to be strongly integrated with your online project management to bring enhanced productivity.
When you upload a file or assign a task, you can decide to notify members. They will receive an email with a description of the event with links to the content.
Emails sent by GroupCamp will accept replies. For example if you comment a shared file and choose to notify colleagues by email, you can add a comment by replying to the email. All the followers of the thread of comments receive the reply and the online thread is updated.
Convincing project members to use an online project management tool in conjunction with email can be challenging. Below are examples of how, used together, email and an online project management tool can bring more efficiency and productivity to project members.
Sending emails to an online project dropbox address
You can use GroupCamp Project to update your online projects without leaving your email software. Every online project comes with a customizable dropbox email address. Simlply add as destination or copy your project dropbox address when you compose a new message. The project will be updated with the email. You can also send emails with attached files; they will be automatically added to the Files application. You can send emails directly to the dropbox address or forward specific incoming messages or add the dropbox address in the CC field when you write project related emails.
Email weekly digest or report for emails and tasks
The weekly digest is an email delivered to your inbox every week. It contains all the relevant late and upcoming tasks for the online projects in which you are participating. As long as the on-going tasks are not completed they are added to the weekly digest.
Email notifications for Project applications(GroupCamp Project -> Email)
When creating a task, uploading a file, opening a discussion or creating a wiki page, you can choose to send out email notifications to selected project members. All project members who are added as followers of a task file or discussion, will receive an email notification. They can add a comment simply by replying to the email. The online project will be updated automatically.
Adding comments by email
One of the drawbacks of using only email for a project is the loss of context. All the project history is lost in emails. With an online project management tool suwh as GroupCamp Project, you can keep all your project history and evey newcomer to the project can quickly come on-board and become familiar with all project items.
For Google Apps users, using GroupCamp's contextual gadget in Gmail to create tasks directly from an email
For users who have installed GroupCamp Project in their Google Apps domain, there is a great way to transform an email in your inbox into a task in an online project. When an email is received in your online project the GroupCamp contextual Gmail gadget will be displayed at the bottom of the email. Use the gadget to extract the email body or subject and add it as a task in one of your online projects without leaving your email interface.
Bear in mind that in using GroupCamp project, the privacy of your project information bears higher security than regular email. Most business email service allows all the content of your email to be transferred on the public internet without any encryption mechanism. When using groupCamp project to share files or other project items, all communications from the browser to your online project uses 256-bit SSL encryption and is actually more secure than regular email.
This is a very common use case. We have seen multiple companies achieve this with different methods. Here is one of them (which is actually GroupCamp’s way of working).
We use different online projects for New Feature Requests and Product Roadmap.
In the New Feature Requests section, we use task lists to describe new domains or an actual application. For example ‘GroupCamp Mobile is a task list and ‘New Features for Discussions’ is another. We then have reviews based on the task list and once we decide on a new feature and the way to design it, it will move into the Product Roadmap project which is the actual committed track for our products. We use the import feature to move tasks from one project to another.
Allowing users to enter new ideas makes it easier for an idea to progress in maturity by relying on the online collaboration of every team member. Every member can comment on the idea by replying directly to email notifications. In the Product Roadmap, we use the task lists to describe the workload for a particular quarter. You can use ‘types in tasks to set priorities or release dates. When entering tasks corresponding to new ideas, project members can enter the estimated time for the task.
During the reviews of the product team we then decide on the new priorities to be set on every task. One important aspect we use in making go/no-go decisions is the total estimated time for every task list. The total amount of estimated time is also available for each task type which is often the priority level. In the Tasks application, when an ideas gains traction, you can assign the task and have an estimation on the total workload per user.
Create an account online, add a first project. Then invite users to sign in. Users receive emails to log in. All they need is a web browser and they can start their online collaboration. You can start sharing files and creating tasks. All users share the same view of the project content and deadlines.
Your Intranet est secure and you have full control over who can access it. Organising your project work for your team becomes simpler
Study Case 1: Organising an event (example: a trade show)
You can use GroupCamp Project to organise an event where you need to share deadlines and tasks with mulitple teams. To get start, create a new project and invite all relevant stakeholders for collaboration. Then define the roles of each member and start assigning tasks within task lists (for instance: display and marketing collaterals, booth equipment and supplies, demos, client pre-scheduled meetings, and so on). Each one of your team member has access to the collaborative project with a clear view of their tasks and the associated milestones.
What is important for the project is a full debrief of your team after the event. The objective is to outline what you should keep as a best practice for future events and what should be improved. You can use the collaborative WIKI to create a resource page where all the best practices are listed. If you are using your regular email to write all the takeaways of your debrief meeting you can either upload the file to the online project or copy the project's dropbox email address so that the contents are saved a a key deliverable for future projects.
Once the debrief is done, you can archive the online project and use it as a project template for the same event the following year or season.
Study Case 2 : Managing new ideas
You can use GroupCamp Project to better manage how new ideas are organised. Start by creating a new web-based project. Your team members will be able to submit new ideas per topic in the form of tasks or task lists (Use Tasks app). Ideas can be about new products, new processes or can be about improving existing products or services. You can then organise the ideas by priority or by topic. By starting with an open project dedicated to new ideas, you have a better chance of having a clear roadmap to improve your existing products and to foster ideas for new ones. If you are a Google Apps user you can easily transform an email (from a client or a partner) into a new idea by using the GroupCamp Project contextual gadget to create a new task. Read more on new idea management here.
Study Case 3 : Managing internal projects
An internal project can be anything from the design of a new product, updating an agreement or terms of service, choosing a new supplier, recruiting a new manager, collaborating on a new internal resource centre.
Study Case 4 : Transforming your project intranet into an extranet for clients, partners and suppliers
Your Intranet transforms itself into an Extranet simply by inviting users from outside companies to join your project. Inviting a client or partner to collaborate only requires an email address, a first and last name. When using a project for collaboration between multiple companies, GroupCamp Project allows you to set specific user rights for people from invited companies. Online collaboration is now a must have for most small businesses even when companies are not working exactly in project mode.