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New Projects… bigger than we thought.

I know a lot of people are hanging out to test the new project tool and we are getting closer. The reality is that it is a far greater project (!) than we thought. Projects are a massive part of WORK[etc] and as such provide core information through to contacts, billing, timesheets, reports and just about every part of WORK[etc].  Change projects and the effects ripple through the entire application.

The good news is that every day we get closer. The “temporarily” bad news was that we hit some performance issues over the last few weeks. Temporary as we seem to have overcome most of them now.

The thing about improving performance is that it is not universally tangible as adding a cool new feature and it is only a handful of people who have hit the performance ceiling that notice any improvement. So, whilst it might look like we haven’t achieved a lot over the last 6 weeks, rest assured we have.

And on top of performance, we’ve also further refined the new project and Gantt charts.

Here is a bit more of a preview…

The big improvement in the image above from last time, is the ability to quickly create a “sub project” and ToDo’s under that project. We’ve now included a check box so that you can tick off completed ToDo’s just as quickly as they were completed.

The image below shows the first draft of the new “triggers” or dependant project implementation. Now, MS Project and a few other Project Management Software products call this functionality “Predeccesors”, but we feel that is such an ugly and cumbersome term.

I realise were probably breaking a bunch of user experience rules here, but we’re going with the name “Trigger”, as in “create a trigger to start Project B, once Project A is complete”.

Some notes on the above example:

  • Dotted lines on the gantt indicate a “starts after” relationship. Sooo as illustrated above;
    – TODO #4 has dotted lines going to TODOs 1, 3 and 6 on the gantt.
    – TODO #5 begins after 4.
    – and TODO #2 begins after 5.
  • You may define an unlimited number of trigger relationships
  • Moving one of the todos forward should move everything that’s linked to it along if it’s end time is in the future.

Now, let’s looks at TODO #4.

It has a “Set Start Date” trigger which is set to fire when 1, 3 and 6 are all marked completed — all of those todos are not yet complete, so it’s date will perpetually move forward, and this ToDo will never appear under anybody’s “ToDo List” or calendars until all conditions have been met.

If we look at the details screen for TODO#4, we will see a note telling you as much, under the Date/Time field:

And then removing

triggers is as simple as un-ticking the options within the project editor:

The productivity and automation possibilities around Triggers is actually pretty profound.  For example, future releases will allow the creation of scenarios such as:

  • Send
    email (e.g. “Email <employee> template <fire staff> when
    project Y is overdue”)
  • Generate invoice (e.g. “Generate invoice when project Y is
    complete”)
  • Anything else we can dream up…

The Big Question… is when all this is going to be available for public beta.  The honest and direct answer is that I’m not 100% sure.  I don’t want to let people down by saying a particular date and then over shooting that.  In terms of what we have left to do, it is only two relatively minor items:

  • Solve a performance issue in displaying a Gantt chart when a project has a 100+ sub items.
  • Integrate the new “dumping ground” or work flow view (more on this next week)

At this point we’ll make a beta available to existing customers.  Whilst that beta is running we’ll complete the Budget and People/Resource views as well project templates.

It may all sound like a lot, but the back is definitely broken now.  Everything else is essentially a function of display and user interface.

Please, if anyone has any concerns or questions please ask them below in comments.

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