Seeking Scheduling Enlightenment With ResourceGuru

We’ve recently added quite a few friendly faces to our team, which means that resourcing has become much more complicated. When you’re trying to get a glimpse of the overall weekly resourcing for a team of 30 plus, a Google spreadsheet just doesn’t cut it. It was tough, but we finally broke up with our unwieldy Google resourcing spreadsheet and decided to move on up to ResourceGuru.

I like ResourceGuru because it’s fairly simple and works pretty well as a basic resourcing tool. That’s also what I don’t like about it.

I’d love the ability to send a weekly email report with all hours for the week, but that’s not an option. This means once the resourcing is in someone still needs to go in and pull all of the hours and then post to the team, which is exactly what we did with the Google spreadsheet. This tool was created to mimic the simplicity of the basic spreadsheet, but a girl can hope for more. Right?

Another addition I’d like to see is a calendar. Right now, there is no way to view project milestones, so I’ve been making notes in the weekly hours. A calendar would be a great way to get a quick glimpse of the overall status of all projects, and if the calendar could import from Basecamp, even better.

For now, ResourceGuru has helped our team “clean up” the weekly resourcing. It’s easy to use and offers some customization that help keep things organized. Has anyone else tried ResourceGuru? How is it working for you?

Effective App Integration: Use it or Lose it

By Christine Holcombe

I try to limit the number of tools I ask my team to use. We’re already using Basecamp for deliverable sharing, Google Calendar for scheduling, Asana for task lists, Google Drive for our “live” documents, and Toggl for time tracking. 

In an effort to get rid of at least one tool (due to confusion experienced by new employees and frustration expressed from some of our veteran team members), I’ve identified that the most obvious solution is to combine our tools for to-dos with time tracking. The only problem there is that I am hopelessly devoted to Toggl (my company has three years, 100 clients and 4,000 hours’ worth of projects logged with them), but our Sr. UX Researcher has a codependent relationship with her Asana list (sorry, Valle, the secret is out).

The Integration Tease

You can imagine the seat dance I did when I learned that Toggl has a new(ish) extension for Asana (fists pumping, feet stomping).

Unfortunately, my victory dance was premature. The Toggl extension is too limited for how my team uses the tool. Mostly because we use the crap out of Toggl. We enter a task description, a project, and a tag on all time entries that we log. The extension for Asana pulls only the number of hours tracked and the task description into Toggl, meaning my teammates would still have to navigate to Toggl to enter all of the other data.

toggl

I was bummed to learn how marginal the functionality was for the Toggl/Asana integration. Then I realized that my team uses Toggl in a very detailed (anal retentive?) way, and the Asana extension has been created for a more casual user of Toggl.

My experience with Asana and Toggl is similar to other app integrations I’ve tried in the past. Integration typically doesn’t facilitate full functionally between two products. If integration were supposed to be seamless and robust at the same time, there would already be a product on the market that handles both pieces of functionality effectively.

Or so I thought.

Nailing It

Then I discovered the Harvest app in Asana. Boom.

The Harvest/Asana integration allows a user to capture the project, the task description and the task type, which is exactly what I was hoping the Toggl extension would do. Harvest has taken a more in-depth approach to app integration and effectively married time tracking to task management. This is the type of integration that every girl dreams of.

harvest

I reviewed Harvest once before, but I found no need to leave Toggl because the basic functionality is the same. The level of specificity allowed by this integration is compelling enough to make me question my long allegiance to Toggl.

Harvest’s badass Asana app, plus the need to consolidate the number of tools we use, plus repeated grumblings from my team about a few usability hurdles in Toggl, means I am seriously considering making the leap from Toggl to Harvest.

Decision Time

This is not a decision I’m making lightly, and there are many variables to consider when changing a fundamental piece of project management like time tracking (team adoption, cost, data migration, to name a few).

What we’ve decided to do is pilot the Harvest/Asana integration with a small project we’re starting this week to see how it goes. We’ll have our Sr. UX Researcher, our Interaction Designer, and our newest team member all using the new system so that we can get a spectrum of perspectives (both old and new employees, both researchers and designers) on what works and what doesn’t work.

Who would have thought that a simple feature like app integration could turn the whole bus around? I’ll let you know how it works out.

 

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A former teacher, Dangerous Minds–style, Christine now rocks project management at Design For Use. Her interests include playing the tambourine in her family band, competing in triathlons, and taking care of her 18 month old son, who is much harder to manage than any of her clients or coworkers. Follow her on twitter @holcombe5000.

My First Date With Updatey

I met Updatey by way of a tweet from the fine folks at Crush & Lovely. Immediately my heart swelled at the thought of visually pleasing project plans. I signed up for the beta release without hesitation and waited patiently until this afternoon, when the official invitation arrived.

Updatey reminded me of a guy I dated 10 years ago. He was handsome and everyone was itching to fix us up. I was super excited for our first date. But the end of the night, I remember thinking, “It’s a shame. He was so pretty.”

Overall, we just weren’t right for each other. The same is true for me and Updatey. I was hoping it would be more of a project planning tool. It didn’t need to be all that MS project or Omniplan are, but I need task dependencies and resource availability to be a part of my plans. For me, Updatey just didn’t have the features I was hoping for. It would just be one more thing I’d need to update on top of perpetually ugly planning tools.

Fundamentally, you add milestones (text, date and time). Then you can add documents, images and notes/comments. Those all get plotted on a good lookin’ interactive timeline that you can share. A dashboard view presented a nice summary of stats like completion rates, days to deadline and milestones completed. It’s generally easy to use (except for the whole military time thing- say whaaa?) and you can’t beat free. Sharing projects is easy. Take a look at the test I set up to get a better idea. I attempted to add some images and docs but I’m afraid it didn’t seem to work just yet.

It was refreshing in that I haven’t quite seen something like it elsewhere, but it just wasn’t what I hoped it would be.  I’ll check back in a few months to see what’s been updated. For now, we’re just friends.

If you need to create a nice timeline visual, maybe Updatey is right for you. We’d love to hear your thoughts on it.

Lovies,
Katie

Introducing digitalpmtools.com

The inaugural DPM Summit was a launchpad for digital PMs to exchange information and learn from one another. In the PM’s Toolkit session, Brenna and I got to be a part of a fevered discussion about tools. It was exciting to see just how hungry everyone was for information. We could have easily talked for hours, but with only 60 minutes to chat, many left the session with plenty of leads, but few answers.

To keep that momentum going, we’re happy to introduce you to digitalpmtools.com. We hope this becomes a resource for PMs looking for new software solutions and problem solving techniques. What else? Not really sure yet. We’re learning as we go. We’ll make this purdy as we go. We’ll probably meet over cupcakes as we go.

Contributing your experiences and sharing your needs are key to making this site valuable. Please contact us if you’d like to become an author.

-Katie