Frequently Asked Questions
These FAQs are designed to provide a better understanding of Spotlight. We have compiled a list of some of the most commonly asked questions. If you do not see an answer to your question on this page, contact us anytime... we always love hearing from you!
Setting up Your Account / Company Level
» What are departments?
Departments are high-level job categorizations for team members in Spotlight. They are optional, but do come in handy when creating tasks. Some examples of departments may include â€œDevelopersâ€, â€œQA Testersâ€, â€œDesignersâ€ and â€œManagementâ€. When creating a new task, you can assign the task to a department, and then later assign the task to an individual within the department.
» What are activity presets?
The power of Spotlight is in the communication among distributed team members, letting everyone know what youâ€™re working on. Activity presets are activities that are not explicitly tasks and occur frequently. For example, â€œMeetingsâ€, â€œResearchâ€ or even â€œLunchâ€ are activity presets. When selected, everyone knows you are in a meeting, doing some research, or grabbing some lunch.
» What are user roles?
Spotlight is a role-based system. Every team member in Spotlight must have a role. Each role has permissions that are granted or revoked. For example, the ability to create tasks is a permission, and the ability to delete a task is a permission. There are five roles:
- Super User
- Project Manager
- Team Leader
- Team Member
The super user role is the master role and has all permissions. The super user role cannot be edited; it is read-only. All other roles can be edited by a super user to add or remove permissions.
» What does it mean to add users at the company level?
Your Spotlight subscription has a maximum number of team members that can be added to your account. Those team members are all part of your master account. You can assign as many team members to as many projects as you have; the seat count is only tabulated at the account level.
Setting up Your Account / Project Level
» How do I get started with a new project?
Getting started with a new project in Spotlight is easy. But you will want to follow steps in a certain order to ensure proper workflow. First, create your project. Ensure that the end date of the project is accurately set (or best estimated), as tasks and sprints cannot be created outside the project’s end date.
Next, you will want to add your team members (Project Settings -> Manage Team Members). You can add team members by selecting from team members already part of your account, or add new team members by email (when a new team member is added to your project, that will also be added at the account level). When adding a team member at the project level, you can optionally designate a team member to be a “QA” tester. That means they will be able to test tasks and be assigned tasks to test.
Finally, in order, set up your sprints (see Sprints section of this document), set up your goals (see Goals section of this document), and set up your tasks (see Tasks section of this document)
» What does Automated Status Update Notifications means?
Located in Project Settings, the automated status update notifications are reminders for team members to update their status. You can decide to send an email, alert in the Spotlight mobile app, or both when a team member’s status has expired. An expired status is defined as the “Until Time” in the team member’s last status update is less than the actual time.
» What does “required” mean on the Daily Progress Reports?
Located in Project Settings -> Daily Project Reports, you can make a daily progress report (DPR) required for selected team members. That means when the DPR is required, that team member must submit a progress report (see Daily Progress Report section of this report) each working day (see Weekdays and Holidays section of this report). Resistance is futile, as the system will not allow the team member to use any portion of the system unless a required DPR is submitted each working day.
» How do I configure “recipients” on the Daily Progress Reports?
Sometimes a peripheral stakeholder will want to review the daily progress reports (DPR) of the team. Spotlight makes that easy by allowing your specify recipients of specific team member’s DPR. Just add the email address, separated by commas of all the recipients you want a copy of the team member’s DPR mailed to. Best of all, the peripheral recipients do not need to be team members in Spotlight, and they do not count against your total seat count in your subscription.
» What are Weekdays and Holidays?
Located in Project Settings -> Weekdays and Holidays, Spotlight lets up set up the working days for your projects, as well as any holidays the team has off. This is used in two calculations. The first is the daily progress report (DPR) when the DPR is required. A notification is sent to the team member if he forgets to submit a DPR on designated workdays. Second, the designated workdays are used to calculate the burn-down of tasks completed and tasks remaining in the current sprint.
» What are Daily Work Hours?
Located in Project Settings, daily work hours designate a typical work day for your team, 8 hours, 9 hours, or maybe more during crunch time (or less for a part-time project). The daily work hours are used to calculate the burn-down of tasks completed and tasks remaining in the current sprint
» What are sprints?
Think of sprints as timeframes to get a bunch of tasks completed. They are a way to drive the whole team to a common deadline. For example, a sprint may be a 2-week period where everyone on the team works on tasks that share a common goal.
» Why are sprints typically 1-3 weeks?
Sprints are a way to encapsulate a set of tasks within a discrete timeframe for completion. As with any agile project planning for software, the further you plan out, the more amorphous your future goals / features become. So sprints are meant to be 1-3 weeks so you can focus on short-term and mid-term planning, while maintaining a long-term vision.
» What are goals?
Think of goals like a container for your objectives. Goals are a group of many tasks, than can span multiple sprints. Goals in Spotlight are optional and highly flexible. Goals can be anything from features to versions. For example, you may use goals to track feature progress (like a goal called “eComm Shopping Cart which has 10 tasks), or you may use goals to track versions by adding tasks from multiple sprints to a single goal (like a goal called “Version 2” which may have 100 tasks from 5 sprints).
» Are Goals like User Stories?
We wanted to make goals very flexible. As such, goals can absolutely be used like user-stories. Goals can contain multiple attachments, and you can start a conversation thread in a goal. Add tasks to a goal, and you can track a user-story’s progress.
» How are tasks timed?
Tasks are timed automatically in Spotlight. Tasks are timed when a team member is working on a task or when a QA tester is testing a task. When a team member selects a task’s status as “In Progress” AND the team member’s online status is “Available” or “Busy”, Spotlight times the task. When a QA tester is ready to test a task, she moves the task into “QA-In Progress” by selecting the “Yellow” QA flag; at this time Spotlight times her testing as long as her online status is “Available” or “Busy”.
- Task Timing
- Task Status: “In Progress”
- Online Status: “Available” or “Busy”
- QA Testing Timing
- Testing Status: “Yellow - In Progress”
- Online Status: “Available” or “Busy”
» Why can’t I edit my tasks?
Task integrity is vital to good project management. Spotlight takes task integrity very serious. Tasks are only editable when a team member’s online status is set to “Available” or “Busy”. In addition, a task can only be edited when the tasks status is not set to “In Progress” or “Completed”. (Tasks allow for rich comments so that team members can add and discuss task details while the task is being implemented.)
- Requirements to Edit an Existing Task
- Online Status: “Available” or “Busy”
- Task Status (not): “In Progress” or “Completed”
» What do the flags in the Task Manager mean?
When a task’s status is marked as “completed”, a set of three flags displays, with the red flag enabled. This indicates to QA that the task is ready to test. When QA is ready to test a task, the second (yellow) flag should be selected. This indicates to everyone that the task is currently being tested. In addition, while in the yellow state, the testers time testing the task is logged (see “How are tasks timed” section of this document). If the task passes QA, the tester will select the third QA flag, which displays green, alerting everyone the task has passed QA. When the task does not pass QA, the tester changes the task’s status to “re-opened”, which hides the QA flags, and alerts the task assignee that the task has been reopened.
» How can I see how many tasks a certain team member has?
Spotlight’s task manager comes with a granular filtering tool. Select filters and choose the parameters you wish to filter on. For example, you may wish to deselect “Everybody” in the “Assigned” combo box, select just 1 team member, and finally deselect “Completed” in the “Status” combo box to see all outstanding tasks that team member has left to complete in this current sprint.
» What do the task types mean?
There are 4 types of tasks that can be entered in Spotlight.
- Task â€“ A task is something that has to be done that is not a new feature, not an enhancement or improvement, and not a bug. For example, creating a database or deploying a server is a task.
- Bug â€“ A bug is a defect. Spotlight integrates bug tracking directly in the task manager system so that you have one place to check on the status of your team. Fast, easy and all at one glance.
- Feature â€“ A feature is a new feature in your project. For example, a new ecommerce shopping cart is a new feature.
- Improvement â€“ An improvement is an enhancement to a current feature. For example, the ability to update quantities in an ecommerce shopping cart is an improvement.
» What do the task statuses mean?
There are 5 task statuses in Spotlight
- Not Started â€“ The task has not been started.
- In Progress â€“ The task is currently being worked on.
- Completed â€“ The task is complete, and ready for QA testing (see “What do the flags in the Task Manager mean” section of this document)
- Blocked â€“ The task cannot be completed for one reason or another. For example, a task to create an ecommerce shopping cart may be blocked because the developer is waiting on some graphics to finish.
- Reopened â€“ The task has failed QA, and the QA tester has reopened the task.
» What are the checkboxes next to the tasks for?
The checkboxes next to the tasks in the Task Manager serve several purposes. When checked, you can do 1 of 3 actions:
- You can link the selected tasks to a goal.
- You can delete the selected tasks (provided the selected tasks do not have any progress or actual hours associated with them).
- You can move the selected tasks to a new sprint.
» Can I import my task list form Google Drive Spreadsheet?
Absolutely! Furthermore, you can even map the columns in your Google Drive Spreadsheet with the columns in the Spotlight task manager.
Status Control / Setting Status / The Dashboard
» How do I set my status?
Spotlight’s status control is located in the upper-right hand corner of every page when you are in a project. (The status control is not visible when you are at the company level.) The status control is a drop-down that allows you to set:
- Status Update â€“ A short description of what you are working on. For example, “I am working on the database”, “I am testing eComm” or “I’ll be back after lunch”
- Currently Working On â€“ This field allows you to choose a task or an activity preset to let everyone know what you are working on.
- Task â€“ A task that has been assigned to you. When selected, you can manually set the progress of the task as a percentage.
- Testing â€“ A task that is ready for testing. Select the “Yellow â€“ In Progress” task to start testing. Select the “Green â€“ Approved” task to approve the task, or “Re-Opened” to re-open the task for the developer.
- Preset Activity- These are activities that do not fall within the domain of tasks. They can be “meetings”, “research” or anything else that you add to the system.
- Availability â€“ This is your online status.
- Available â€“ I am available for anyone to contact me.
- Busy â€“ I am heads down working.
- Away â€“ I am not at my desk, but will be back soon.
- Offline â€“ I am not at my desk, and not checking emails or Spotlight.
- Until â€“ This field sets a time parameter around your availability. It indicates to others when you are around, and when you’ll be back.
» Why is Currently Working On combo box not selectable?
In order to select an activity in the “Currently Working On” section of the status control, your online status must be “Available” or “Busy”.
» How do I create new Activity Presets?
Activity presets are predefined activities that are not tasks or testing. For example, “Meetings”, “Research” or even “Lunch”. New activity presets can be created at the company level by selecting “Company Settings” in the menu item.Â New activity presets can also be created by selecting the “Currently Working On” dropdown in the status control, scrolling all the way to the bottom, and selecting “Add New Activity”. Note that in order to create a new activity preset, a team member must be granted permission.
» What are status cards?
Spotlight status cards are the heart of Spotlight’s social network-like communication. They provide very valuable information about a team members’ status (what he’s working on and his progress) as well as his availability. Status cards are ordered by most recent status update. So the last team member to update his status goes to the top of the dashboard. You can reply to a team member’s status, and even “like” it. Chat is available for team members that are “Available” or “Busy”.
Flip a card over for even more details, like the team member’s Skype number and cell number, the current tasks he’s working on as well as a list of finished tasks and next tasks. You can even assign the team member a new task right from their back of the card (if you have “Create Task” permission in your role).
» What does “request update” do?
Located on the back and front of Spotlight status cards, “request update” sends an email to the team member indicating that you would like her to update her status.
» What are private messages
Private Messages, located in the Message Center, are messages that are sent to a select number of recipients. Messages can contain attachments, and a thread can be created in a conversation-like format. You can add additional recipients any time by selecting them from the “Send Notifications” combo box. Messages can be marked as unread so you can refer to them later.
» What are project board messages?
Project Board Messages, located in the Message Center, are messages that are sent to the entire team. Everyone can read them and comment on them. Messages can contain attachments, and a thread can be created in a conversation-like format. Messages can be marked as unread so you can refer to them later.
» What do the numbered notifications mean?
Spotlight is a world-class communication tool that notifies you when a message you might be interested in is available. The Message Center will increment the number of unread messages, until you read the messages. The types of message alerts you will see are:
- New private message that is addressed to you
- A reply to a private message that you are part of
- New project board message
- A reply to a project board message
- New status updates (this type of notification can be turned off in “My Profile”)
- A reply to your status update
- A new task assigned to you as either the task owner or tester
- A new task in which you were added as “notify” to
» What are daily progress reports?
Daily Progress Reports (DPR) are a great way for team members to collect their thoughts for the day and prepare for the next day. They help the team member recall what he did during the day, and plan his goals for the next day. They are also a great way for managers to stay abreast on their team’s daily activities.
» How can I see a report of how my team spent their week?
Located in Report Center -> Project Report, there is a section called Member Activity. Click on a member in Member Activity to be bought to a detailed report of how that team member spent his time. A granular account of how many hours spent on various tasks, testing and other activities are presented. You can change the date range, and even export the report to a CSV file.
» What information is reported on the My Projects page per project?
The “My Projects” page is a list of all the projects you are working on. Each project lists the number of team members in the project. Click on the link and see a report of each team member’s outstanding tasks and task status for the sprint.
The red, yellow and green circles below “My task status” indicate the number of not started (red) and completed (green) tasks in your queue. All other statuses are lumped in yellow.
» Can reports be exported?
Located in Report Center -> Project Report, you can export your status report to a CSV file format output. In addition, located in Member Activity, each team member’s activity and hours report can also be exported in CSV file format.