Creating a new user, login, and accessing the app

Question: First things first, I downloaded the app to my iPhone (or iPad).  How to add myself as a user and start using this app?

Answer: Starting up the app will take you to the login screen.  Since you don’t yet have a login, click the plus sign in the top right of the login screen.  Enter the email address you are creating the account for, your password, the last 4 digits of your SSN or other identifier (so we know it’s you in case you need to reset your password) and your name (first and last names would be best).  Press the “Create user” button and confirm that you want to create an account for the email address.  You will then receive a confirmation message that your account was created, and you’ll be automatically logged in as this user, where you’ll be taken to the welcome message.

Question: Great, I clicked next from the welcome message view and I’m at the “by day” view, and I see some action items delegated to me and due.  How did these get here?  I just logged in for the first time!

Answer:  First, welcome to the team(Planner) community!.  It’s possible that when you created your account for the first time, there may already be action items that have been delegated to you.  A person can delegate action items to any email address.   If that email address is an team(Planner) user, then they will receive a message that something has been delegated to them.  If the email address is not yet a user, these delegated items get queued up and when that email address does get added, the list of delegated items will show up the first time that person logs in.

Question: So what do I see if I create my team(Planner) account and no one has delegated anything previously to me?

Answer: After reading the welcome screen information and clicking next, you’ll be directed to the assigned by day view, which in your case will be empty.  Just click the plus button in the top right to create your first action item, and you’ll be on you way!

Question: I powered my phone off and on, and when I clicked on the team(Planner) icon to start the app, my user name and password were already filled in.  Is this right?  Is there a way to turn this off so that I have to enter my email and password every time to log in (I know I’m making it harder on myself, but I’m very concerned about security)?

Answer: Don’t apologize for being concerned about security – everyone needs to be.  Your email and password are stored encrypted within the iPhone’s keychain, and only the team(Planner) application has access to this data.  To force a manual login next time, turn off the “remember login” switch.

Question: Can I get to my action items on a device other than my iPhone?

Answer: Yes.  Currently we have a Windows application (Win 7, 8, and 10 compatible) that you can purchase.  You can also run the iPhone version of team(Planner) also on your iPad.

User interface

Question: on my iPhone, what do the 5 tabs at the bottom of the screen represent?  Can I change these tabs?

Answer: Let me explain each one.  “By day” – These are action items assigned to a day.  In this view you see for a day, the action items that are assigned for that day, plus any action items that have been assigned to a prior day, and are not done (past due).  “Assigned week” – The list of action items that are assigned for a particular week, grouped together under the date they are assigned.  “Due week” – the list of items grouped by the date they are due, for a particular week.  “Unassigned” – all incomplete action items that are unassigned, meaning that while they have a due date, they have not yet been assigned to a date.  “By project” – selecting a project will show you all action items, complete and incomplete, for the project.  This includes items created by you, delegated to you, and all other action items created by other team members that are part of the project.

And yes, you can change the views for each of these tabs.  Go to the More tab, and then click Edit in the top right of the screen.  You can now drag and drop different views into these 5 iPhone tab slots, or on the iPad 7 tab slots.  Click Done when you’re complete and the application will remember what each of these tabs are supposed to do.

Question: Explain what the different colors that are used in the first tab, “by day”, are telling me?

Answer: Action items show up with a green header that are due on the day you’re looking at.  A red header means they are past due.  A blue header says that the item is assigned to the day you’re looking at, but is due in the future.  While this first tab “By day” is all about action items that are assigned to this day, we can’t let you forget about the work that was assigned to prior days that is not yet done.

Question: How about the colors used in the other tabs “Assigned week” and “Due week”?

Answer: To help you differentiate between the different views when you’re looking at the screen, items are grouped together in the assigned week view using a golden brown color, and the items in the due week using a light blue color.  Since the information displayed in these two views are similar in format (but probably different action items) these colors help you to quickly distinguish between the two views.  In addition, on both screens action items that are assigned (or due) today are grouped together in both views with a green header.

Question: How can I navigate to different days in the by day view, and to different weeks in the assigned week and due week views?

Answer:  Navigation is done by either swiping the list to the left (next day or week) or to the right (prior day or week), or by pressing the arrow buttons at the top.  In all three displays you can jump to the current day (or current week) by pressing the today button.

Question: The information on the welcome screen is good, but I’ve read it and I don’t want to see this screen again after I start the app.

Answer: When you see the welcome screen, click the “don’t show this again” switch at the bottom before pressing the next button in the top right.

Question: What about the grey color used in the by project view?  Why are some items highlighted with a grey background and others are not?

Answer: Because the by project view shows you all items for a project, including those that you are not responsible for, an action item highlighted in grey indicates that you can only view the action item detail, and not make any changes.

Question: In most lists of action items, I see some different icons for some of the items.  What do those icons mean?  Also, why is there a checkmark to the right of some items?

Answer: There are four (4) different slots for an icon to appear.  Starting on the left, the blocks means that this item has a dependency (get it, one block sitting on top of others).  The next icon can actually be one of two different icons.  The two people icon means that you have delegated this action item to someone.  The glasses icon means that this item was created by someone else and has been delegated to you (the glasses are looking at your progress).  The next icon shows the priority of the item.  Up arrow is high priority and down arrow is low priority.  No icon is shown for medium priority.  The last icon on the right (the warning symbol) says that the assigned date is later than the due date – a pretty good sign that this item is past due.  When an action item is complete, you’ll see a checkmark on the right side of that action item in a list.

Question: I see a plus sign in the top right corner of many screens.  What does that mean?

Answer: Whenever you see the plus sign, you can press it and add something new to the list you’re looking at.  If you’re looking at projects and press the plus sign, you can add a new project.  If you’re looking at action items and press the plus sign, you’re able to add a new action item.

Question: What does the menu button (three horizontal lines) in the top left of these screens do?

Answer: While the five (5) tabs at the bottom of your screen take you to the major areas of team(Planner), there several more views that are important to helping you manage your tasks, projects, and priorities.  Pressing on the More tab will take you to the rest of the views that are available.  This is a series of views you can press to take you to views to help you manage past due or at risk items, search, view completed action items, view your messages, edit project and delegation tables, and change your name and password in the app.

Action items

Question:  I’m creating my first action item.  There’s a lot of information here, is it all required?

Answer: The only thing that’s required to create an item is the action item description (the top field) itself.  By default, that item will be assigned to today.  You can change that by either clicking the unassigned switch (to create an unassigned item), or click the assigned for date to select another date.  To save this action item just press the Save button in the top left.

Question: What’s the difference between past due and at risk?

Answer: The due date for a past due action item has come and gone, and the item is not yet complete.  It’s pretty hard and fast – the item was due on Monday and it is now Wednesday, and that item is not yet done.  The “at risk” view shows action items where the calculated date is later than the due date.  For example, the item is due on Wednesday, you’ve assigned it to Tuesday to start, but you’ve told the app that the work will take 2 days.  The calculated date is Thursday, which is beyond the Wednesday due date.  At the moment this action item is at risk.  Once Wednesday has come and gone, if the item is not complete, it will be considered past due.

Question: I’m looking at an action item detail, and I see three dates, assigned, due and calculated.  What do they mean?

Answer:  Every action item has these three dates.  Due date is when the action item is supposed to be completed by.  It’s the date that someone may be expecting you to do this work or task.  Assigned date is when you’re going to start the work.  If you do not enter in an estimate for the item, the app assumes you’ll complete the work the same day you start it.  In this case the calculated date is the same as the assigned date.  If you enter an estimate (which is in days), it says that this work is going to take this many days to complete.  So an item assigned for Tuesday, with an estimate of 2 (days), has a calculated date of Thursday

Question: So what’s an unassigned action item?  Does it have an assigned date?

Answer:  Unassigned action items do not have an assigned date.  Unassigned means that this item is work you need to do, and you know when it’s due by (the due date), you just have not yet decided (prioritized) when to do this work.

Question: How can an unassigned action item be past due?

Answer: Because past due is based on the due date, and every action item has a due date.

Question: I see my past due action items already on the by day screen (first tab).  Why is there a separate view for past due items?

Answer: Keep in mind that the by day view only shows items that have been assigned.  You can have action items that are unassigned and past due.  This means that the item was due on Monday, today is Wednesday, and the item is not assigned to any date.  The past due view shows you both assigned and unassigned items that are past due.

Question: Why would I want to pin a project?  What does that mean?

Answer: The number of projects you’ll be involved with will grow with time, and often you no longer want to see completed projects in your lists.  Pinning a project will allow you to filter the views where you’re looking at or selecting a project, so that you only see listed the projects that are relevant to you now.

Question: How can I change the name of a project or delegation?

Answer: Click on the menu button (top left, three bars icon) and then select either edit project table, or edit delegation table

Question: I see a lot of references to project teams.  I just want to use team(Planner) myself to help me manage everything that’s on my plate.  Can I use team(Planner) without being part of a team?

Answer: Absolutely.  As an individual user, you can do everything including delegating items.  A delegation to a person that’s not part of the team(Planner) community is just your way of noting that you’ve handed off responsibility to that person.  For example, a manager who’s the only user of team(Planner) can delegate items to their team members, and view items by the person you’ve delegated to, even if that delegation is all internal to your team(Planner) account.  Keep in mind that as soon as one of your team members becomes an team(Planner) user, they will automatically see what has been delegated to them (by you and maybe others) before they added their account.

Question: I see you can search in the team(Planner) app.  What data does the app search on, and are there any special tricks when entering the search criteria?

Answer:  First, when you search the app looks at the action item descriptions and all notes that have been created for an action item.  Regarding special tricks, you use a comma (,) to separate search phrases.  So for example, searching on the phrase Smithville project, will search for those two words, Smithville and project, together.  To search for action items or notes that have either the word Smithville or project, you would use a comma to separate these words, so enter in Smithville, project

Question: I’m creating a new action item and I can’t add a dependency or delegate this item, the fields are grey and nothing happens when I press.  What am I doing wrong?

Answer: You can only delegate an action item, or assign a dependency, if that item is first assigned to a project.  After you’ve selected a project, you’ll see that the dependency and delegation buttons are now blue, and you can press them

Question: Help me understand the importance of unassigned action items?  Why can’t I just keep everything assigned to the current day and whatever I don’t get done, I just reassign to the next day?

Answer: I think in part, you’ve answered your own question.  To help you focus on what’s really important each day and each week, you want to only assign action items when you know you’re going to work on them.  If you’ve got something that needs to be done, and you’re really not sure when you’re going to be able to get to it, then leave that item unassigned.

Projects

Question: Explain how projects and action items work?

Answer: A project can be for an individual (you) or a group of people (you plus others that are working on the project).  Projects in team(Planner) enable you to create a task list of things that you and the rest of the team need to complete for a project.  In fact, you don’t even need to be responsible for any of these items, you can create the action items and assign them all to other people.

Question: How do projects get shared with other action(Item) users?

Answer: The first time you assign an item to someone, that person gets a link to the project, and that project now appears in their list of projects.  Because this project is now in both of your lists, both of you can work with action items associated with this project.

Question: How many people can be part of a project?  Is there a limit to the number of people I can delegate tasks to in a project?

Answer: There is no limit to the number of people that can participate in a project, and have action items that they create and are delegated

Question: So I get it that as soon as I delegate something to a person, they are part of that project.  Can this person also create new action items in the project?

Answer: Yes.  Getting a person “added” to a project is done via someone that’s already part of the project delegating an item to this new person.  The process of this first delegation automatically adds the person to the project.  Once that person is added, they can also add action items to the project, and in fact items they create can be delegated back to you!

Question: With these projects, I’m concerned about security.  Can someone else that’s part of a project make a change to, or even delete, an action item I created?

Answer: No.  The person that creates the action item is the owner.  They are the only person that can delete the item they created.  If they delegate that item to someone else, then this other person can make some changes to the action item (description, priority, assigned date), but this other person cannot delete the item you created, and they cannot change the project and the due date for the item that was delegated to them.  For someone that’s part of the project but is neither the owner nor the person delegated to, all thy can do is view the action item.  They cannot make any changes.

Question: Does every action item need to be assigned to a project?

Answer:  No.  If however you want to be able to delegate this action item or define a dependency to another item, this action item will need to be assigned to a project.

Action item Notes

Question: What are Action item Notes?

Answer: Action item Notes are a great collaboration tool built into the app.  Instead of sending emails to different people, where some team members receive the email and others don’t, and where emails get deleted, collaboration via action(Item) Notes is all contained with the app.  Questions, comments, thoughts, and suggestions can all be posted as Notes for action items in a project.  When you do a search in team(Planner), you’re searching through the action items and all of the notes, so you can quickly find a reference to an idea or comment via search and Action item Notes.

Question: Who can create Action item Notes in a project?  Can I create a Note for an action item in a project I’m a part of, even if I did not create that item or it’s not delegated to me?

Answer: Yes.  This is part of the collaboration build into team(Planner), where all project team members can participate in the project by creating and viewing Notes for all items in the project.

Question: So someone else in the project can see the Notes I entered.  Can they change or delete a Note I create?

Answer: No.  Only the author of the note can change or delete that note.

Question: If there are a lot of Notes posted to an action item, is there an easy way to quickly see all of the notes so I don’t have to try to locate what I’m looking for?

Answer: Absolutely.  When viewing an action item, you can see all of the notes displayed at the bottom of the screen, listed newest to oldest.  You can also press the Action item Notes button and you’ll see a list of all the note entries for this item.  Press on the link “Show all Action item Notes” and you’ll get one list that has all of the notes displayed together, in sorted order.

Question: Can I enter a Note that’s private and can only be seen by me and the owner of the action item?

Answer: Good suggestion.  You cannot do this today, but this capability can be added in a future version.

Delegation

Question: Can I delegate an item to someone that is not currently a user of team(Planner)?

Answer:  Absolutely.  When you delegate an item to someone that’s not a user, it’s a delegation that only you and your action(Item) account are aware of.  You’ll need to notify this person using some other method (email, text, phone) that you need them to do this work, and when you need it done by.  As soon as this person becomes part of the action(Item) community, they will see the list of items people have delegated to them the first time they log in.

Question: Can the person I delegate an item to make changes to the action item?

Answer: They can change all of the action item data except the project it’s assigned to, who it’s delegated to (which is them), and the due date.  Only the owner (creator) of the action item can set the due date, assign the item to a project, or delegate the action item.

Question: What should I do if an action item is incorrectly delegated to me?

Answer: You would need to notify the owner of the action item using an action(Item) Note that the item should be assigned to someone else.  The owner will get an action(Item) message with this request, and can then change the delegation to the correct person.  When the owner makes this change, you will receive an team(Planner) message telling you that this item is no longer delegated to you.

Question: When do messages get created and why do I get them?

Answer: A message is sent to alert you to something that’s changed with an action item you created or one that you delegated.  Messages happen when you’re delegated an action item and the owner of the item makes a change, someone creates a note for an action item you own or that’s been delegated to you, and when an action item is no longer delegated to you.

Question: Why does the menu icon in the top left sometimes have an asterisk on it?  Similar question, what is the number that’s on the action(Item) icon that I press to start the app?

Answer:  Both are signs telling you that you’ve got unread messages.  The app icon tells you how many unread messages you have.  When you’re in the app, the menu icon shows the asterisk when you have unread messages.  Once you’ve read all the messages (either clicking on the message to view the action item referenced in the message) or deleted the message, the number will go away on the app icon, and the asterisk will be removed from the menu button within the app.

Question: Can I delete a message after I’ve read it?

Answer:  Yes.  For the message you want to delete, swipe left (like you would to delete an email) and the “Delete” button will appear.  Press the “Delete” button and the message will be deleted.

Dependencies

Question: Can you explain what a dependency is?

Answer: Dependencies in team(Planner) are used to show that one item must complete before another one can start.  This means that if the item “read the book” has a dependency on the item “write the book”, then the action item “write the book” must be completed first before the item “read the book” can start.

Question: Okay, so why would I want to use dependencies?

Answer: Remember the three (3) dates that is associated with every action item – the due date, assigned date, and calculated date.  Due date says when the work needs to be done by.  Assigned date is when you’re going to start the work.  It’s the calculated date that uses the dependency.  Stay with me here – when the app determines the calculated date (expected completion date) for “read the book”, it will use the calculated date for “write the book” as the starting date for “read the book”.  Let’s say “read the book” is going to take 2 days, and you plan to start it (its assigned date) on Tuesday.  If “write the book” has a calculated date of Wednesday, it does not matter that you assigned “read the book” to Tuesday, since you’re really not going to be able to start reading the book until Wednesday.

Question: Is there a name for the type of dependency used in team(Planner)?

Answer: In project management terms, the dependencies in team(Planner) are finish to start.

Question: Are other types of dependencies available in action(Item), like start to start or finish to finish?

Answer: No, only finish to start.

Question: Being able to assign dependencies is really cool – this is going to help me and my team a lot.  Why don’t all of my action items in a project show up when I go to assign a dependency to an item?

Answer: The team(Planner) app is preventing you from creating what’s called a circular reference.  You’ve probably had messages about circular references when building formulas in Excel.  A circular reference is when task a is dependent on task b, and task b is dependent on task a.  You can’t calculate an end date for either task a or task b when there’s a circular reference.  In team(Planner), when you go to assign a dependency and the app goes about gathering the list of other action items in a project for you to pick from, any action item that would create a circular reference is removed from the list.  For example, you’ve got 5 items in a project (A, B, C, D, and E).  B already has a dependency on A, and C is dependent on A.  When you go to assign a dependency to D, you’ll be able to select from A, B, C, and E.  However, when you go to assign a dependency for A, you’ll see this list of available items is only D and E.  This is because if you assigned either B or C as a dependency to A, you would create a circular reference.

Question: Thanks, but this dependency stuff is starting to make my head hurt.  Do I have to use it?

Answer: Nope.  It’s totally optional.  There’s an obvious advantage to using dependencies, since you’ll have greater insight into exactly when work is going to be completed by, but you can use team(Planner) with or without dependencies.

Question: Okay, so can I use dependencies just once and a while?

Answer: Certainly.  How and when you use dependencies is up to you.  You can have a project with a bunch of dependencies, no dependencies, or just a couple dependencies.

Question: Can multiple action items all be dependent on one other action item?

Answer: Yes.  For example, one item in your project list is “design interface”.  As soon as this item completes, several other tasks such as “build interface”, “design test plan”, and “write user guide” can all start.  These three tasks will all have a dependency on “design interface”.

Question: How about the opposite situation – can one action item be dependent on several tasks completing before it can start?

Answer: No.  Each action item can only have one dependency that represents a task that must complete first before this task starts.  A scenario for your question would be that I can’t begin “start system test” until both “build system” and “unit test system” are complete.  In team(Planner) the work “start system test” can have only one dependency (predecessor), so you would need to select the one that has the longest duration (estimate).