Under review

Starting a web-based group meeting for shared learning

mark 5 years ago updated by anonymous 4 years ago 98

Hello, and happy new year everyone!

For the past few months, I’ve been realizing that at my company, our use of XTRF has been limited - limited because we’ve created our processes and workflows based on our own experience & creativity (or lack thereof) and because there are few best practices for us to follow as a guide. There are a lot of people on this forum doing very creative work, and I frequently come across nuggets of information that help us improve our processes. But I’d like to do more of that, and I was hoping that I wasn’t alone. :)

Here is my thought, I’d like to create a user-directed web-based series of meetings that would allow us to share how we all use XTRF. It could be a monthly 1-hour web call with rotating presenters. My thought is we’d collectively come up with a list of topics to discuss. Then an individual who has good experience on the selected topic would prepare their best practice to share. The presentation should be around 20 minutes and then allow the remaining time for discussion. And because I’m a Smart Project user, I’d want to focus on Smart Projects.

Of course, we’d have to pay attention to privacy issues, not sharing client/vendor data, pricing information, and no live data, etc.

And just so everyone is clear, I’m not interested in a bitching session, but time spent to really try to learn from each other.


If there is interest in this, I’d be happy to try to kick off a Smart Project Best Practices Web Group. Please post your thoughts here, and if it makes sense, I’ll give it a go.



I'd be interested if only to see how people are using smart projects which we plan on starting to use soon!


Count me in. Thanks for the initiative, Mark. We really need some XTRF best practices.

If there is a way to get XTRF to watch ours efforts and point out better ways of doing something that would be great.  

Under review

Hi Angelo 

If you decide to invite us we'll be more than happy to participate :)

Best regards,


Happy to be part of it Mark!

Nice idea! I echo Jaime's words.

Good idea indeed. Same as Jaime too.

I love the idea. Despite of the fact I am a user of Classic Projects, I would love to attend.

Hi Mark,

We are also still using Classic Projects, but will have to probably eventualy switch to Smart Projects. I would be very interested in this. Thank you for the initiative.

Classic user here. The idea is fantastic! Would be awesome to see some Classic-focused presentations, as well. We're new to XTRF in general and would love to see if there is anything we can do better!


Great idea indeed and in ideal case I vote for these sessions to be focused both on the Classic as well as Smart projects.


I would also like it if this best practices / learning group also involved classic projects, as well!

We are also using Classic projects, and I don't see how we could switch to Smart projects in the foreseeable future. Still, I'm interested :)

Maybe you should start a Classic Projects group. :)

I was thinking about, but my personality is too passive for that :)

Good to know your strengths and weaknesses. Maybe someone will take what I'm trying to do and replicate it for classic projects. 

Personally, I go through fits of passive and active depending on the day and my mood. I'm feeling active today. No guarantees for tomorrow though.

Great! Glad to hear I'm not the only one. Hopefully, it will be helpful for everyone, and if not, the effort will just fade away into the night. 

Here's my thought, I'd like to get a little more input from everyone about topics, what are people interested in, what people could prepare presentations on. Once we collect that, I'm happy to create a draft schedule. I'm happy to start this initiative, but I have no pride in authorship, and will happily take suggestions. If someone even wants to jump in and run with this idea, I'd even give it up. But until that happens, here's my start.

Take a look at the link below. It has my outline of what this group could look like. I created it in google docs and made it open for editing. Feel free to add comments, suggestions or even just correct my typos. And thanks to the individuals who have already made suggestions!



Thank you very much, Mark, for this initiative. I hope XTRF is paying you for this service. Only joking ... or am I?  :o)

I have just added my input to the list and am happy to serve as moderator for one or the other topic. But I would definitely keep Classic and Smart in separate groups, as suggested.

@XTRF: How do you foresee your involvement in this? I believe it would be beneficial for both parties, if XTRF had some share in this initiative. One suggestion would be to start each topic with a presentation by XTRF on the intended system design before users share their best practices, which are often workarounds until XTRF development introduces a proper solution. It would also give you a better idea of the system limitations in the real LSP world.

I agree that it would be great if XTRF wanted to be involved. I would also love to hear XTRF's response to our practices/workarounds and see how different it is from their initial expectations. @XTRF, thoughts?

@Sacho, @Mark 

As I've mentioned above We'd like very much to be involved in this initiative. 

Having that said I wouldn't want to take over the floor. We could do the short introduction to the area of the system, maybe show the most basic/default purpose of the system area and in general be a participant that knows a lot about the technical aspects of the system.

I wouldn't like to comment on the practices/workarounds presented by our clients because personally, I believe every solution that fulfills a client requirement is a good one :).

Best regards,



So has anyone created a group for Classic projects yet?



Funny you ask because I haven't even started a Smart Projects group yet!

As we all say, sometimes life gets in the way of our best intentions, but I'm back. Here's what I'm thinking.

I'm going to volunteer to start this group and volunteer to give the first presentation. Maybe getting the first under our belt will make the rest seem easier.

Topic: Project Manager Training on XTRF
Date: March 28
Time: TBD, but I'm in Chicago time zone. I would preferably do it at 11 am CST, does that work for others? 50 minutes.

My plan is to present for 10 minutes and provide how we training our new and existing project managers on the ongoing use of XTRF. I hope what can follow is a discussion around alternative strategies and what we've all found to be good practices. I'm not claiming to have PM training down pat - we struggle as all do - but we do have an evolving system, and will be happy to share to spark discussion. This topic is also Smart/Classic agnostic, so come all!

What do you say? Is anyone in?

Hey Mark. Would love to attend the first such meeting, but can't on Thursdays. Will you record the meeting and share it with the group?


I will record it and post it. Probably start another topic just to post links. 


I will be happy to participate, putting it to my calendar!

We've got you and me, that makes it a party!


I will attend!



I will try to attend! 


Hi all! We're looking forward to talking tomorrow. In a bit I'll share the public link. It will be a google meet link, so I'll also share instructions to log in if you don't have a gmail/gsuite account. 



Here's a joining link:

To join the video meeting, click this link: https://meet.google.com/iex-gheo-rgq
Otherwise, to join by phone, dial +1 234-248-6359 and enter this PIN: 598 767 726#

I believe if you log into the meeting it will also give you other non-US phone options.

If you don't have a gsuite or gmail account, this is how you link your existing email to a gsuite account:


Looking forward to talking tomorrow.

I'm quite sad about it as I was looking forward to this meeting but I won't be able to attend in the end due to urgent requests coming. I hope it's not the last such session and if there is by any chance a recording made I will be glad to have the link!

No worries. Life happens and schedules change!

Thank you Monika, Angelo and Katie. I thought we had a great conversation. Here's the sad news, our recording came out with no audio, so I can't post any useful video. I'm sorry! And I didn't take notes because I was anticipating a recording. 

I am attaching the presentation that we used. -->  Multilingual Connections XTRF TRAINING FOR PMs.pdf

I will report out that we found this very useful. Personal takeaways include the importance of better organizing our training documentation, the value of setting up more demo projects for new PMs to test their new skills, and generally trying to take a fresh look at how we train, to make sure it still works for us. I'm sure Angelo and Monika will have other takeaways. And again, I'm sorry I don't have a recording to share.

A few notes on doing this. Katie and I presented. The time to prepare was minimal as it's just about presenting on what we're already doing. And there is no pressure in performance. The time to participate is always challenging (life is too busy) but we found it very useful. 

I do hope there is enough interest in continuing this. I'm not sure I can commit to spearheading this without others, but if others want to participate with me, I'm happy to continue to be part of this effort. Anyone? 

And let me make a quick comment to @XTRF. 

You guys should want to help this work. Developing and maintaining a community of users that share and figure out how to use your product better benefits not just the users, but you all. It would be a selling point to have a robust group of users that assist each other and help identify best practices for both new and existing users. 

This effort would be more effective if someone (XTRF??) offers a small amount of staff time to coordinate, schedule and organize - and it would help you all promote XTRF as more than a tool, but a base of engaged users... 

Hi Mark,

First of all, I'd like to thank you for so much engagement in building our community. As a quick follow-up to what Andrzej already said - we hear you and we're more than happy to support your initiative with both our technical and business experts. Please help us define what form of our engagement would be the most beneficial for you as we would like to avoid somehow forcibly taking over this brilliant community-driven idea.

Looking forward to hearing from you!


Let me assure you of two things.... First, there is no forcibly taking over. You can take it over with pleasure. I just think it fits to support your business development and our operational needs. So it makes more sense for XTRF to coordinate this than for me. As for it being brilliant, I don't have a brilliant bone in my body. I usually aim for slightly above average with an occasional overreach for 'pretty good'. 

But I think XTRF should do exactly what I started to try to do here. Listen to users, get their ideas, facilitate discussions, share the discussions, listen some more. I think discussions are so helpful for end-users, and maybe it could also help identify development priorities. 

If you'd like to force your way into taking over this fledgling effort, I dare you to try. 

Really, try. 


Nevermind. It's yours. 

Dear Mark and All,

I am so happy to see this initiative moving forward.

I am curious to learn your observations and thoughts after your first meeting. Not only those related to the discussed topics but also related to its formula in general.

We are keen to support this initiative with our time, knowledge and enthusiasm and thus I am very interested to learn what form of involvement you would like to receive from us most. Having learned that we will be able to plan our participation.

I would like to take this opportunity to share the information you might have still missed:

We are working on organisation of XTRF Summit in Krakow, 4-6th of September 2019. You will surely be receiving our newsletter containing more details, soon.

That's why I can say already today, that we are happy to support this "web-based group" initiative and at the same time we hope to meet you all in Krakow, which will be a great community-building initiative, with lots of learning, knowledge-sharing and networking opportunities.

All the best,




How about taking turns in moderating this initiative? One time XTRF takes the lead on a topic that was voted by the user community, e.g. how to handle updated source documents in various stages of a project life cycle. And another time one of the more active UE clients takes the lead, as did Mark for the first go-around. If we managed to e-meet for such workshops every other month, a lot would be achieved and XTRF would have an even better understanding of real-life client needs.

Just keeping the ball rolling here. Any other suggestions on how to keep this initiative alive?

I would support this. Thanks Sancho!

Hey Sancho, Mark,

We want to learn all we can about how you guys work with XTRF - that's why we've decided to include our UX designer to participate so we can get your opinions on how next releases of XTRF should look like to even better support your day-to-day operations.

Regarding taking turns, what do you think about this:

- There're one or two presentations from you (Community Members) on the topic (i.e. how do you handle particular case),

- afterwards, there's a presentation from XTRF showing what we consider the best practice. 

I believe that 10 minutes for each presentation should be enough, so we can have a discussion afterwards. 

Looking forward for your answers!


I think that would be great and we could all learn greatly from this.


That sounds like a good plan. Any suggestions for the topic and timing of this first joint workshop? It probably makes the most sense to pick a topic that is next on your development roadmap. That way you can get first-hand input of user needs. Personally, I would like to recommend the handling of updated source documents at different project stages (preparation phase, mid-production phase, post-production phase).

BTW, who is the current UX designer at XTRF?


I really like the plan :)

Regarding the timing, I think it would be great to keep it on the monthly basis, so next meeting could happen either last week of this month or 1st week of May.

Topics that I find interesting are: 

1) Integration with CAT tools - especially being able to map LSP (we use XTM but I think using LSP in any CAT tool is great time-saver)

2) Periodic jobs and macros

3) Weighted time calculation in workflows

4) Vendor scheduling/assigning - best practices


Hello everyone,

Monthly basis sounds good - let's start with that. We've chosen one of the topics you have voted for on the Google Docs list:

On 10th of May 2019 / 5:00 PM CEST* we'd like to talk about Vendor Management in XTRF. We will prepare best-practices presentation but we would like you to share your experience on this subject - i.e. how do you deal with vendor management in XTRF.

Don't be shy - if you'd like to be one of the speakers, drop me an e-mail on bartosz.budzynski@xtrf.eu. It would be amazing to have at least two presentations from the Community.

Each presentation should last about 10 minutes and afterwards there will be time to discuss both existing solutions and desired changes with Maciej (Senior Deployment Expert) and Magda (UX Designer). 

Feel free to invite your colleagues so they can share their perspective too. :)

* 11:00 AM EDT / 8:00 AM PDT / 4:00 PM BST


It's Magda Zawadzka - she's here (on UserEcho) as well. 

This is great. I'll talk to my team. I don't want to monopolize any of these conversations, but happy to be part of this in any way.

Count us in. I will try to get the relevant colleagues to join, even though it is 17:00 on a Friday afternoon  ;o)

Before we commit to handling one of the presentations, what aspect of vendor management will be targeted? Onboarding of new vendors, maintaining database of existing vendors, selecting vendors for a job?

I'm very interested in participating, and would love to hear from some of our peers here! "Echoing" Sancho's question, any additional details on the very broad topic of "Vendor Management" would be helpful. Thank you!


The date might be a bit inconvenient for us here in Europe, but we set it that way so everyone can attend. :) 

@Sancho, Seyma:

Regarding the topics - we're going to quickly talk through the XTRF process from onboarding through managing data to assigning right people to the right jobs.

We hope you could focus on the parts of the process that you consider the most important and challenging. Maybe there are some particular areas in existing XTRF Vendors module that you'd like to talk about? Drop me an e-mail if you'd like to work on the agenda and polish out the details with us. :) 

As Mark said, we find data verification and data maintenance most challenging, so I think it would be most helpful to focus on those areas in some detail rather than a general, high-level overview of the XTRF process.

Hi Seyma,

Thank you for sharing that - would you like to take the floor for 10 minutes on Friday to give a quick presentations about the issues you're having? 

Sure, I'm happy to do so. Thanks.

Hello Bartosz, 

When will you be providing the link to the meeting?

Hey Dominika,

Here is the link. :) It will become active at mentioned date and time - looking forward to meet with you there!


We are also interested. We will be there.

I'll be out of office that day, but will look forward to seeing the recording.

I think vendor management in XTRF is very important and very challenging, so don't know where I'd focus. But we do work hard on onboarding, data verification, and data maintenance. I'd love to see what others are doing.

We re also interested and we'll be there.

I confirm our interest as well, will try to participate

Great to see your interest! Just to remind you, we're still open for community members willing to present their way of dealing with vendor management, the issues, the workarounds, the good and the bad.

10th of May at 5 PM CEST we invite you to join us at GoToMeeting session. 

Looking forward to it!

We would be very interested to join also.

Thank you.


I am planning these talking points tomorrow. 
It's going to be a brief introduction to the range of possibilities, as well as a few use cases, but I am counting on your input on these. 

I will do my best to take 10-15 minutes, just enough to light up the conversation.

- Explaining Vendors: who they are to us and to XTRF.
- Where do Vendors come from - how to collect data.
- Different kinds of Vendor data in XTRF.
- Most commonly used data: competencies, rates and availability.
- Feature focus: multiple Price Profiles.
- Interesting challenge: randomizing Vendors for Job Offers and Availability Requests.

Let’s try to keep out of scope for this session: Vendor Portal, Vendor Billing. These are lovely topics, but way too big for this single meeting. 

Thank you, Maciej. I agree that the Vendor Portal and Vendor Billing don't need to be covered at this particular meeting.

For my part, I'll be presenting on our experiences collecting and managing vendor data in XTRF.


I would also be interested to join. Thank you.

To follow up our conversation on shuffling Vendors, here's my article on this idea. 

We played with it a little and proved it works as described. 

Feel free to comment or develop this idea!

I'm going to give this a try. Thanks Maciej!

On a related note, when will the recording get posted? Or a summary?

Hello All,

Here's the link to the recording of the meeting:


Apart from the presentations from Maciej and Seyma (see posts above), we had a short discussion about experiences with onboarding new vendors to XTRF and potential improvement ideas for the Vendor Recruitment feature (a customizable recruitment form seems to be the right direction). Maciej and Bartosz also prepared a short article on  how to randomize Vendors selection for Job Offers & Availability Requests.


Thank you for sharing the link to the recording and a briefing of our discussion!

Are there any plans for another meeting this month?

From XTRF side, we will be more than happy to participate or even host again the next meeting. What topic would be the most interesting for most of you? Are we staying in the area of vendor management? Last time we skipped vendor billing, so maybe this is a good candidate, unless there are better alternatives. Any volunteers for the presentation?

Looking forward to your comments/suggestions. Like the last time, we can also prepare a short intro presentation on the chosen topic.

Not sure if it isn't too late to organise something still in June, but we can try and aim for the beginning of July.


Ok, I'll bite.

Here's my 2 cents. People have already given their ideas in this stream, and on the google doc that's linked above. Next steps shouldn't be asking an open ended question again of what people want. Next steps is for XTRF to take ownership, come up with a list of 5 user generated ideas that you think could lead to good discussion. Schedule out these five ideas, set dates and times. Solicit volunteers for specific topics, specific times/dates. Send out a newsletter to XTRF users about your community driven web discussion series. Get people to put it on their calendars. Brand it. Make it look pretty. Lead it. 


Agreed on all counts. 

I don't think it should be a question of whether XTRF will participate; it should be a given that XTRF will lead this effort. As Mark suggested, XTRF should be scheduling these on a regular basis and inviting the community to participate. This thread - and participation in the last meeting - attest to the community's great interest in a series like this.

And in terms of actual content, although a short into from XTRF is helpful, what I would really appreciate is hearing best practices from XTRF. As I think my presentation last month demonstrated, it took us over a year - and lots of frustration and troubleshooting - to come up with a solution to a challenge quite integral to working with XTRF. While it's helpful and interesting to learn from other users' experiences, I also want to hear XTRF's best practices - we need BOTH to make these meetings worthwhile. 

Agree very much with this. Thanks, Seyma, for expressing our feelings on the matter.

Vendor billing is okay with me. My top vote from last time is still handling changed sourced documents from the customer at different project stages. Sure would like to hear some best practices on that topic. I shared our approach and workaround on UE before.

I think this would be great. @XTRF?

@XTRF, is this initiative dead?

As far as I know there will be another meeting on 22/08 about vendor billing - so initiative is still ongoing. :-)

There will be new thread about this on Userecho today or tomorrow.

A series showcasing best practices of core PM activities requested by the community and lead by XTRF would be ideal.



As Martyna mentioned above: 

We'd like to have another session on 22nd of August at 3 PM CEST. 

Here's a link to join: https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/593362341

From XTRF Team there will be:

Anna Glińska, Customer Success Manager

Andrzej Lech, Customer Success Manager

Maciej Rączka, Senior Deployment Specialist 

We would like to talk about vendor billing.

We'd love to hear your thoughts, opinions and best practices on that topic. See you there!



Is there an XTRF user presenting with you all?

Under review

I will start and introduce the main points to consider, as well as some interesting cases.
It might look like this:

  1. Do you use Vendor Billing at all?
    1. billing in XTRF vs. view exporting
    2. integrations
  2. What is a Vendor Bill / Invoice?
  3. When?
    1. statuses
    2. invoice expected dates
    3. invoicing windows
  4. Who?
    1. Vendor doing the billing
    2. Vendor / Billing Manager
  5. XTRF template vs. vendors's own documents
  6. Periodic Jobs

Could you please make and share the recording? Thank you.

So we're now rescheduled for next week...

Is this presentation based on XTRF documentation, or a user's experience? While I'd love to get more information on things such as...

- How users implement payment options and integrate (or not) with Paypall, international wires, WU, other payment options.

- How users handle vendors with special payment needs 

- How users work with vendors who don't follow payment/invoicing instructions and forget to invoice but then complain about no payment

- How users integrate XTRF vendor payments with external accounting systems & AP (or not)

It's a user meeting and your points, Mark, require some input from the community. 

I'm happy to draw a general picture and describe the biggest issues and concerns our clients have with Vendor Billing. 

Your points, however, should be ideally addressed by others. 

You're right. So my earlier question is if anyone at xtrf asked a user to present with you all. I'm just trying to understand what the meeting will look like.


I'm interested in joining this meeting. What is currently the scheduled date and time?

Never mind, I have found the link for the new meeting.


Meeting is rescheduled to 29-08

Dennis, we'll be very pleased. Perhaps you'd like to contribute and share your experience with regard to any of the points?

Hi Maciej, I'm not interested in sharing my experiences, I'll be there just for listening.

Hi Sancho,

yes, there will be a recording available for everyone.

Just a friendly reminder, we are having a meeting on Vendor Invoicing / Billing in some 15 minutes. Join us if you can!


here's a direct meeting link



Do you have a recording of this meeting?


thank you for tuning in for last week's meeting. For all of you who were not able to attend, we did record this session and it is available under https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQYeiRjsTx8&feature=youtu.be.

Best regards,


@Maciej: Finally got to catch up with this recording. When you explained how vendors can add invoices on the VP themselves, you touched on the controversy of limiting the "Add Invoice" options. You indicated that you would circle back to it, but I don't think it was revisited again. In its current design, the VP offers the choice of adding an invoice on the Jobs page and the Invoices page. Since you are well aware of the issues attached to this dual option, is there any update on the system admin being able to limit this in the Vendor Portal settings? In our case, we would love to disable the Add Invoice option on the Jobs page, which even after 3 years still leads to manual correction work with new (and old) vendors.

@Sancho, this idea is under review. We'd like to implement it as soon as possible next year, along with a few other improvements in the vendor invoicing process.