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TargetProcess - Visual Project Management

Franco Martinig, Martinig & Associates

TargetProcess is a commercial Agile project management tool that allows following a Scrum, Kanban or customized approach. It provides an intuitive and rich visual interface to manage your software development projects in a collaborative way.

Web Site: http://www.targetprocess.com/
Version Tested: TargetProcess version 3.2.2, tested during a period from May to June 2014
System Requirements: TargetProcess is hosted
License & Pricing:
* Hosted: free until 5 users, 25 dollars/user/month above
* On site: $249 user
see http://www.targetprocess.com/pricing/ for details
Support: e-mail, live chat, help desk

Documentation

TargetProcess provides plenty of online help that is accessible directly from the tool. The help system presents articles on main topics and videos on major features. It has an efficient search function. When you start using TargetProcess, there is already a set of example data that allows you to understand how the software works. If you have additional questions, TargetProcess provides help desk support that was very reactive during the time of this evaluation.

Configuration

Setting screens allow to define processes where you can start from scratch or clone an existing (Scrum, Kanban) approach. You can also define the project teams and members, the roles in your projects, business values like the priority of user stories, e-mail notifications. TargetProcess has an open architecture and existing plugins allow to cooperate with external applications like Bugzilla, Selenium, Visual Studio or Jenkins.

Concepts

The concept behind TargetProcess is rather simple: it takes the three main components of a project - the people, the work and the plan - and makes it easy to manage and associate them in a visual way. The work part is based on a classical agile requirements hierarchy that is composed of features, user stories and tasks. Two additional items are provided: the bugs and the impediments. The planning vision is also classical where the project can be decomposed in releases and iterations. On the people side, you manage user with roles and teams. You can have multiple teams working on the same project and they will share the complete view of the project.

The domain model is easy to visualize and understand. The strength of the product comes in its visual management capabilities where you are able to plan and track usually your project with a lot of different perspectives in a flexible way.

Approaches

This flexibility allows TargetProcess to provide initially with two different approaches that have their own processes: Scrum and Kanban. For both cases, you will have a set of predefined visual boards that are specific to each approach. You can define a default process for each new project.

Additionally, you can create your own customized process by cloning an existing one. A process is composed of practices (requirements, test management, bug tracking, ...) that can be associated to a process. You can add and remove practices as needed. You can define workflows for specific items in your process. These workflows can take the form of either a visual state transformation flow or a simple e-mail notification when for instance an impediment is created.

Figure 1.Definition of the workflow for the User Story item

The central screen of TargetProcess provides an easy way to interact and a quick access to every functionality. It provides also an easy way to monitor the status of your project and spot problems.

The screen you need for your task is rarely further than two clicks away from your current location. A large "Add" button at the top of the screen allowing to add quickly any item that you need to manage your project. Most screens use a tab approach that allows to manage different aspects easily. The visual boards, called "views" use a simple drag and drop approach.

If the views are visible as "boards" by default, you can also choose to display the cards as a list or as a timeline. This timeline view mode is one of the interesting features provided by TargetProcess, as it is very useful for portfolio management, roadmapping, release and iteration planning. You can also select multiple cards to perform actions on them. Besides the views available for each process, you can create your own views by cloning existing one or working from templates. The cards used on the views can be customized to display more or less information, depending on their type: feature, user story, task or bug. A tagging system is provided to add meta-information to the cards. TargetProcess allows you also to define and limit the access to the different views.

If backlog items are created independently, in the real life there might be dependencies between features, user stories, tasks or bugs. You can manage these relations that are defined as dependency, relation or blocker.

Figure 2. Iteration tracking in Scrum

In addition of its management boards, TargetProcess offer also a list of Agile reports that are useful for visually tracking the status of your project like the burndown chart or the process control chart that shows the distribution of cycle time of all completed entities (user stories, features, bugs, tasks, requests) for a given time frame.

Additional Features

Besides its core Agile project management features, TargetProcess offers a number of additional features that connect it with other tools for software development activities like source control, bug tracking or time management.

Import / Export

TargetProcess features a two-way integration with Excel that allows to import and export data using the csv format. You can therefore load or update data about your features, user stories, tasks or bugs into the tool from an external source. You can also export data about these items to produce specific reports with Excel.

Integration with external software

As far as configuration management is concerned, you can integrate TargetProcess with source control software like Git, Subversion, Microsoft's Team Foundation Server (TFS) or Mercurial. This integration is managed by plugins and allows sharing information about code updates.

On the software testing side, you can import test run results from NUnit, Selenium and the Jenkins/Hudson continuous integration tools. You can link external test results with an existing test plan and create a new test plan run. This gives you the capability to track in real time your daily build tests in TargetProcess.

Finally, TargetProcess offers integration with two IDE: Visual Studio and Eclipse/Mylyn that allows to share and update todo lists.

Time tracking

The timesheet allow you to consolidate the daily working hours of the team members. It can be managed on one screen with all the tasks linked to a team member or it will be automatically filled when the time spent on a specific task is updated in the task management screen.

Bug tracking

The bug tracking practice is completely integrated in the project management features of the tool. You can quickly add a bug item, which has its specific workflow, and manage it as a user story and task on your planning and tracking boards.

Conclusion

TargetProcess is both a simple and powerful agile project management tool. It is simple because it has an intuitive user interface and provides by default a complete Scrum and Kanban process for software development organizations that are transitioning to Agile. It is powerful as it allows to create a flexible approach to visual project management with the customization of item content, status and workflows. You will be also able to create your own views of your project status. The ‘visual’ aspects of the software and its customization features help the project managers to stay focused on what is specifically important for them and quickly spot problems.


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This article was originally published in the Summer 2014 issue of Methods & Tools

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