The UX of TargetProcess Do-Over

For a long time now, we have been using TargetProcess at work as our work planning/bug tracking tool.  At first I liked it OK.  Over time I liked it less and less.  At some point, we hit rock bottom and I said, “Let’s try and set this up again, but this time, let’s read the manual.”

So we read PART of the manual.  I have to be honest, I couldn’t get through the whole thing, but we started with lessons learned.  It turns out we were using the tool 100% incorrectly.  Not 99% wrong, 100% wrong.  Everything we were doing made no sense.  I had emailed them last year to help me figure it out, but I didn’t get a good response.

So now, we started over and tried using the tool correctly.  It’s like using a whole new piece of software.  Seriously, it’s night and day.  It went from horrible to pretty good overnight.  All the sudden these buttons made sense and the charts worked.

There is a serious lesson here.  In your UX design, you have to ask yourself: How easy is it to use this tool incorrectly?  What am I doing to help make sure they are using it right?

Literally an hour on the phone with me by a support rep would have helped us use the product correctly and become a net promoter.  If someone emails you about your system saying, “I think I am doing it wrong”; it’s important to follow up with them on the phone.

I think TargetProcess is selling a methodology, not a tool.  The tool comes free.  We pay money per user per month for the methodology.  It was our mistake to pay for the tool for the past 2 years because without the methodology, the tool is nearly useless.  However, WITH the right method, then it becomes a way to actually manage a SaaS product in a pretty agile way.

Now, I don’t want to gloss over the faults of TP completely here.  The UI is a disaster in many places.  They need desperately to look at FogBugz and see how they are doing things.  FogBugz is my hindsight tool/methodology.  We should have gone with that instead.  Next time, for sure.

TargetProcess also needs to switch, whole hog, to ExtJS.  They need to switch the grids, use the layout.  They need to buy into it completely.  There are so many free UI improvements they would get.  They said they were switching to it, but that was a year ago.  Life fortunes the brave.

If you build software, take these lessons to heart.  The difference between success and failure is a fine line and no one reads the manual.

One Reply to “The UX of TargetProcess Do-Over”

  1. Glen, I partially agree with you on UI problems in TargetProcess, but disagree about “I think TargetProcess is selling a methodology, not a tool”.

    Actually we are selling a tool. Agile first, the tool second: http://www.targetprocess.com/blog/2008/09/agile-software-tool-will-not-help-you.html

    However, I do agree that we should provide better consulting services as well (and we are improving here).

    ExtJS switch is still in progress 🙂 It is a decision already made. Sad that my promise was too optimistic…

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