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Knowledge Base

Welcome to the Exply Knowledge Base

We know that new systems and tools tend to be a little bit overvelming and confusing at first sight. This Knowledge Base shall guide you through the first steps and make it easier for you to start exploring your data.

Because we are constantly adding features and improvements to Exply, this documentation will be updated in the same way.

If you're missing an explanation or guide feel free to tell us. We love feedback!

Overview

1. Where do I start?

After installing Exply on your server you'll see the login screen. The default login credentials are as follows:

Username: admin
Password: password

Please make sure to change the password after your first login! Checkout the How do I change passwords part.

If you installed Exply for JIRA, you'll don't need new credentials  - you're logged on right away through your JIRA instance.

User Login Screen for Exply

Exply Login Screen

After you've successfully logged in, you'll see the Exply Welcome Screen providing you several options to start with.

Exply Welcome Screen

If you're starting with a clean install of Exply you'll probably need to start with the essential configuration of data importers.

Therefore head over to the Data Importer section and get to know how to set up different types of data sources.

2. Guided Tours

We know that reading long descriptive texts isn't suitable for everyone or every situation. To help Exply starters we implemenented our so called Guided Tours. They, as the name suggests, guide you through the first steps within Exply.

To get started we actually have one tour:

  • Welcome Guide showing the basic of how to setup a dashboard

To start the tour just head over to the menu in the upper right corner and select "Start Tour".

Guided Tour Start via Exply Main Menu

Start the Guided Tour via the Main Menu

We're working hard to publish more guided tours covering to following topics:

  • Data Importer Guide
  • Creating first new user and setting permissions
  • Different Tutorials
    • How many team members worked how many hours, per day/week/month on which project/task?
    • How many hours of the given budget have already been used?
    • How many hours need to be done within the next time period to accomplish the assured time budget with the given people?
    • How many productive hours do we have?
    • How many hours are billable and non-billable per project, team member, time period?
    • How much time worked every team member on a tasklist?

If you're feeling lost or need special advice feel free to contact us anytime.

Widgets

1. What are Widgets?

Basically think of widgets as tiles in customizable sizes, that can be positioned everywhere within a dashboard. Every Widget can include different content-elements like charts, images, time selectors, text, logos and so on.

List of available Widgets

Widget Overview

2. Quota Tile

The Quota Tile enables you to define a fixed value per time span (e.g. billable hours for a project) to quickly see how much of this value has been used within the defined period and how many value per day have to be done to reach the defined value, depending on the assigned people.

Screen how to configure the Exply Quota Tile

Quota Tile Configuration

For Example: Billable Hours

Some projects are ongoing and therefore have a fixed time budget per month (e.g. week, quarter, year). The Quota Tile allows you to set custom amounts of time for individual time spans. In order to work correctly the Quota Tile needs those information to calculate everything properly.

Follow these steps to setup the Quota Tile:

In our example this amount of hours is 220 per month.

  1. Add a new widget
  2. Choose the Quota Tile widget
  3. Set the Value Field to Billable Hours
  4. Select the corresponding months and enter the amount of hours in the field behind
  5. Repeat for further periods if needed
  6. Enter the appropriate unit, e.g. hours

The Quota Tile sets its background color automatically from green to red depending on the ratio between defined value and used value. You can also change it to your prefered color if you want.

Please keep in mind that the Quota Tile depends on the selected time span of the corresponding widget group or global widget group.

3. Time Selector

The Time Selector widget is the standard widget that comes with every new dashboard or widget group by default.

Within its configuration you can set a default time span to be shown in your dashboard (e.g. last month, this year, last week, etc.). You can also set a dynamic last time span for "last working day". Per default Monday to Friday are defined as working days. You can change them if you want.

That's because every data visualization relies on a selected time span. An inactive Time Selector results in an undefined period of time respectively the time span since the first entry.

Please delete the Time Selector with caution, cause if you have no other data filters set for your dashboard it will take a lot of time to gather all the information and may cause the UI to not respond for a couple of seconds.

Screen how to configure the Exply Time Selector

Time Selector Configuration

4. Pivot Table

Pivot Tables are useful widgets to cluster and stack data and combine them with the correlating sum of working time. Their range of visualization can be from very easy to complex. The easy level f.e. could show the sum of working hours per team member, project or customer. More complex ones could stack information by customer, their projects, issues, date and team members and any given order. The given table columns empower you to compare f.e. logged and billable hours in a snap.

Screen how to configure the Exply Pivot Table

Pivot Table Configuration

For Example: All issues per Team member and compared hours

Follow these steps to setup the Pivot Table:

  1. Add a new widget
  2. Choose the Pivot Table
  3. Choose "working time entries" as document type to pivot over
  4. Select "Name of Creator" as first grouping field and
  5. "Issue Identifier" to get the second dimension
  6. Scroll down to "Value Columns" to select "logged" and "billable hours"

Note: To see only one project you can choose the grouping field "Name of Project" first. This is not necessary if an adequat data filter is set for the dashboard.

5. Timeline Chart

Next we'll want to see the billable worked hours per epic and day/month/etc. to identify peaks and valleys for this project.

Screen how to configure the Exply Timeline Chart

Timeline Chart Configuration

For Example: Billable Hours per Project

  1. Add a new widget
  2. Chosse the Timeline Chart widget
  3. Set the Time-Field to "Date of Creation"
  4. Granulairty is set to "automatic" per default, showing the optimal level of detail for the period of time
  5. Select "Name of Project" as Stacking Field and
  6. Choose "Billable Hours" as Value Field

The Timeline Chart can be viewed as vertical bar chart, showing each point in time as separate bar, or area chart where all points are connected over time.

Furthermore "Maximum Number of stacks" limits, as the name suggests, the maximum number of all shown stacked elements, not only per bar. In addition to that the Maximum Number of decimals narrows down the shown decimals.

6. Results Table

Compared to the Pivot Table the Results Table doesn't provide any calculation functionality. Therefore it can display way more columns including various types of content like logged hours per issue, task, person, epic, customer, etc. You can also sort ascending/descending by one or more columns.

The dashboard export function provides you the full table within an Excel sheet. You can also copy & paste values and rows directly into any spreadsheet application. 

Screen how to configure the Exply Results Table

Results Table Configuration

For Example: List of billable Hours

  1. Add a new widget
  2. Chosse the Results Table widget
  3. Set the Columns
    1. "Name of Project"
    2. "Issue Identifier"
    3. "Billable Hours"
  4. To make the results easier to read we sort them ascending by the Issue Identifier
  5. The number of rows per page is set to 10 so that the table widget displays only one page per screen

Notice that the results table widget can only display 10.000 rows. If you reach the end of the table and there is more data to show, you will be prompted to export the table into an Excel spreadsheet.

Widget Groups

1. What are Widget Groups?

Widget-Groups are like sub-dashboards within a single dashboard. They help you to structure your dashboards and apply different filters for each widget group (e.g. time periods, milestones, sub-projects, etc.).

Every dashboard can consist of an unlimited number of widget groups, giving you the full freedom to create individuell dashboards. For example, you can easily compare to different time spans (this week vs. last week), projects, customers, team members, etc.

Each widget group has their own set of data filters to adjust different data contexts (e.g. project name, name of team member, et cetera).

Screen showing the use of widget groups to compare different time spans

f.e. Widget Groups used to compare two time spans

2. How do I create a new Widget Group?

Within every dashboard you'll find find three dots in the upper right corner, containing several options.

Choose "Edit" to enable the editing mode for the dashboard.

At the bottom of your dashboard you'll now see the "Add new Widget Group" button. By clicking this button a new wdiget group is beeing added right beneath the last widget group.

Screen how to add a new Widget Group

New Widget Group

3. What are Global Groups?

Global Groups enable you to set a specific data context affecting the whole dashboard, without needing you to set filters for every widget group manually.

To give you an example what to do with a Global Group let's think about a general dashboard showing you information regarding all your projects and team members. First of all we start with a simple row chart showing all projects and team members. They are going to be used to drill down the information. After they're added we set this group as a Global Group using the 3 dots in the upper right corner within the Editing Mode:

Screen how to set a Widget Group as Global Group

Set existing Widget Group as Global Group

After the first widget group is set as a Global Group, everything selected there will affect the whole dashboard. The Global Group is also highlighted to separate it visually:

Screen with active Global Group

Active Global Group with orange Background

Now when a certain team member is selected, we see the content change in the other widget groups. In our example Anneliese Möller used to work on two projects "Chotchkies and ABC Telecom Testing & CI". We also see how many hours per day were used for which project.

Screen with active Team Member Filter in Global Group

Applied Team Member Filter through Global Group

Turning things around we now want to know who worked on the Chotchkies project by just selecting it. We see that 6 People worked for this project and billable hours increased over the week.

Screen shows active projects filters using the global group

Applied Projects Filter through Global Group

Analytics & Dashboards

1. What's the difference betweeen Dashboards & Reports?

So, first of all, we're actually only talking about dashboards within Exply and we're like always debating in the team about the necessarity of reports compared to dashboards. Therefore we'd like to point out the differences.

At this we'd like to recommend the book Information Dashboard Design from Stephen Few where he analyses a wide variety of different dashboards and gives the following definition:

"A dashboard is a visual display of the most important information needed to achieve one ore more objectives, consolidated and arranged on a single screen so that the information can be monitored at a glance." (Stephen Few, "Dashboard Confusion," Intelligent Enterprise, March 20, 2004, S.26)

In contrast to dashboards a report  shows you a way more detailed data set.

Some of the main differences between dashboards and reports are:

  • Dashboards focus on answering one question at a time and give a quick overview on the topic (approximately one screen). Reports usually don't fit onto one page and cover more points then one. 

  • Dashboards show real-time data, reports only retrospective data

  • Dashboards tend to be more eye candy and visually appealing with a variety of colorful chart types. Reports used to be mainly tabular in the past, but now also include charts and 

  • Dashboards are more visual and use a variety of chart types. Reports tend to be mainly tabular, but they may contain additional charts or chart components.

  • Dashboards tend to focus on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Reports tend to focus on underlying data.

  • Dashboards are meant to be monitored at a glance. Reports require more in-depth attention (i.e. require reading through)

  • Dashboards communicate specific points. Reports tell, or potentially tell, a story.

Dashboards are simple. Reports tend to be more complex in nature.

2. How do I create a new Dashboard?

Following the advice given above, there are some things worth to consider before starting right away.

Focus on Answers not Raw Data

Thinking of reports and dashboards we're mainly associating them with a huge bucket of data, where we need to draw the conclusions ourselves. Only the original creator knows exactly what the data means. Everyone else needs a lot of time to get a useful understanding of the provided data, and interprete them.

A couple of years ago reports were basically tabular data and eventually supplemented with some basic charts and diagrams. New data vizualisation tools showed that data can be presented in much more convenient ways - dashboards. What happend was that dashboards became more and more report-like, but shiny.

That's exactly the point. The best readable dashboards are the ones that mix data with additional information in bullet lists and text and focus on conlusions, opinions and answer the given question they were created for.

Just showing raw data isn't useful in the first place, especially when they need to be read or are needed to answer the questions the report is trying to solve. They are a helpful addition to provide the information that led to the conclusion, if someone's needing them.

The first question to be solved is the question itself. Just showing data in beautiful dashboards isn't the solution and doesn't help you to get a better understanding for your business and make better decisions. The first question you should start with is:

Start with a question, your data can answer

Dashboards should be designed to quickly provide answers, not questions. The crucial question is: Which questions do you want to have answered?

  • How many team members worked how many hours, per day/week/month on which project/task?
  • How many hours of the given budget have already been used?
  • How many hours need to be done within the next time period to accomplish the assured time budget with the given people?
  • How many productive hours do we have?
  • How many hours are billable and non-billable per project, team member, time period?
  • How much time worked every team member on a tasklist?

Start with answering only one question at a time (and dashboard). Making dashboards to complex by letting them answer more and more questions drives them into the state of early reports, user need more assistance looking at them and then they're not helpful anymore.

Know the limits

As mentioned above dashboards shall give a quick overview for different KPIs. Completely customizable dashboards hold the danger of being "over"-done and that users end up scrolling "forever" trying to find the relevant answers. 

Needing to scroll a lot in your dashboard maybe a hint that the question you started with is to general. If it's even hard for you to dive in, it's not going to be read by anyone else. Try to be more precise.

Do you want to share your dashboard?

Sharing dashboards and insights is a great way to bring transparency to teams, companies, customers and build up trust and loyality. But sometimes it is necessary to show not all data, e.g. customer A should see projects and related data of customer B and so on.

So if you start designing new dashboards keep in mind, who's looking at them in the future and choose the right data filters as well as permissions in the user management.

Chances of real-time data

One of the advantages of dashboards is their real-time approach. Having a look at a dashboard directly shows you the newest data empowering you to instantly act pro-active before it's to late, instead of looking at backwards directed reports having no chance to change past things.

Depending on the dashboard it's more or less important to check it repeatedly.

That's it

That's basically it to keep in mind when creating your first dashboard. Now feel free to head over to the step-by-step guide at the Setup & First Steps section. There you'll find a detailed description on how to set up your first own dashboard.

3. What are Data Filters?

Different dashboards require different data contexts so that it's efficient to work with them. For example, some dashboards are shared with a variety of users or customers and they shall only see the data they're allowed to see.

The complexity of data filters can be as simple as "just show project A" to "only show projects ending with B, starting with CE and contain not Z". Exply even supports the regex-format providing you the most versatile option to enter high-complex filter conditions.

Data filters can be applied in two ways:

  • via Dashboards
  • via User Management

3.1 Dashboard Data Filters

You can set Data Filters in Dashboards for every Widget Group and for a Global Group. (Follow the links for more information) In case of setup they both work the same way.

The important difference is, that global filters effect the whole dashboard, where as widget goup filters only effect themselves.

After enabling the Edit-Mode you'll see the filter options right at the top of every Widget Group. Filters give you the option to select a specific document type and/or document field.

Document type filters are a more general filter method than document fields. For example, if you only want to filter for working time entries, just select them from the document type list. Now every widget will only show working time entry related data like team member name plus the corresponding working times.

Screen how to set document type filters

Dashboard Data Filters - Document Type

In contrast to document types, the document fields filter is a way more specific option to filter your widget groups and dashboards.

The classic example is that you want to get an overview regarding a specific project and you want to see all data. Therefore the document type field is left empty and "Name of Project" is selected as document field including the corresponding project. In this case the operator is set to "equals".

If you're using special naming schemes to sort your projects, customers or project teams and don't want to select them one after another you may use "starts with" to easily select them in an automated way.

Screen showing the possible data filter operators

Dashboard Data Filters - Operators (equals, contains, matches, starts/ends with)

3.2. User Management Data Filters

Besides the data filters within dashboards you're able to set individual permissions on specific document types and fields on user and user group level. 

Besides the setting of permissions for specific dashboards and general permissions, you can also allow the user/group to see/work with the different data types available within the User Management. Setting data field permissions is as easy as setting data filters for your dashboards. Just enter the ones you'd like to or don't want to grant access to.

Per default all permissions are deactivated. 

Screen showing configuration of data field permissions in user management

Data Field Permission within the User Management

4. How do I combine JIRA data and Tempo Time Sheets?

Exply for JIRA automatically detects you configuration and all necessary data. To add the Tempo Time Sheets you'll just need to add you're individual Tempo API key, as described in the JIRA Configuration welcome screen:

Screen on how to combine JIRA data and Tempo Time Sheets

Exply for JIRA Setup Screen

Feel free to head right over to the Setup & First Steps section to get more information.

User Management

1. How do I create a new user?

Creating a new user is as easy as creating a new dashboard. Just head over to the main menu and select "User Management".

From the user management overview you have the options to create a new user or a new user group. To add a new user, just click the corresponding button.

Screen on how to add a new user oder group

Add a new User or Group through the User Management

Now you see the user details page with several options:

  • Setting a username
  • Entering a Name & E-Mail
  • Adding a short Description
  • Set a Password or generating a password link letting the user directly set his own password

Right beneath those basic information you'll find the "Groups & Access Rights" section giving a whole bunch of options to customize the users permissions including Groups, general things, dashboards, data types and data fields.

Detail Screen for new user setup

User Configuration

2. How do I change a password?

To change your password or the password of another user (permission required), head over to the User Management and select the corresponding user.

After that you'll see the same view like for creating a new user. Right beneath the username description you're able to set a new password choosing the "Change Password" button.

If you're trying to change your own password you can either use the User Management or go to "My Profile" via the main menu.

Screen for changing the password of an user

Change Password

3. How do I change access rights of a user?

Changing the permissions of a user is pretty simple. Just use the User Management to access the desired user account. Then scroll down to Groups & Access Rights and set the permissions the way you like.

The specific Data Field Permissions work just like the data filters do within the dashboards and widget groups.

Screen on how to change user access rights

Access Rights for Users

Data Importer

1. How do I configure a new data importer?

By opening the main menu at the top right corner you'll find the menu item "Importer" that get's you to all importer settings.

Screen where to find the data importer

Access the Data Importer

The 3 dots in the upper right corner reveal 2 basic options:

  • Adding a new Importer
  • Clear all data

To add a new importer choose the first one.

Screen on how to add a new data importer

Add new Data Importer

Next you'll see the importer configuration screen allowing you to set up different a wide variety of data sources and specific options and settings for everyone of them.

Screen on how to configure a new data importer

Select your prefered Data Importer

That's it, you're done. You're new importer is show in the importer menu including its health status and options to deactivate, edit, clear or run it manually.

Screen with running data importer

Healthy Data Importer

2. How do I configure the import timer?

To schedule data importers to certain times when they should import new data is configured through the crontab syntax. You find some common examples right at the bottom of the importer settings. For more advanced and complex configurations feel free to use the crontab generator.

Screen on how to setup a custom importer time using crontab

Crontab Importer Time Configuration

3. How do I change the data naming?

The original naming of certain document types and fields is not always the best option. Therefore you can customize them within Exply to make them better understandable and usable.

Just head over to the "Documents & Fields Customization" menu entry via the main menu. There you'll find all available document types and fields available including the amount of entries at the end of each row. Just enter your favorite naming.

You're also able to activate or deactivate certain data types.

Screen on how to customize the naming of document types and fields

Individual Naming for Document Types and Fields

Glad you made it to the end of our current Knowledge Base. If you're missing any information feel free to contact us. We love to hear from you!