Getting to the Tasks at Hand

Do you hate using MS Project or a spreadsheet to track your project? I do. Project is too complicated and spreadsheets are not sophisticated enough to do the job properly. But by using a SharePoint Project Task List and some creative page design, you can create a personalized project management destination.

Previously, I wrote about how to use columns and views to show targeted pieces of a List while dumping folders. We’ll be using some of those techniques here again, so get ready to curse me. For starters, be comforted in the knowledge that a List is a List, whether it’s a Task List, or a Custom List or whatever. They all function the same. Here’s what we’re going to do:
  • Create a Task List
  • Create a Project Tracking Page
  • Personalize it for everyone on the project
Here’s the link to the follow along cheatsheet. As always, we won’t go into every detail of a step, so some basic SP knowledge is needed. Now let’s go over over our rules of the road:
  • I start all Tasks on a Monday
  • I make all Tasks Due on a Friday
  • I stick to the basic statuses – Not Started, In Progress, Completed
  • The cheatsheet uses July 8, 2013 as a publish date, so all the dates reflect that moment in time
Start by creating a Project Task List. Once you do that, change the default View from Gantt to All Tasks. For you MS Project-philes out there, the Gantt View must seem like a warm blanket, but for what we’re doing you need the All Task view or you will spend a lot of time changing the View and re-writing the filters once you add it to the page. Start seeding the list with your tasks. For this blog, we won’t be adding any custom columns, but you can do that to say, break the project down by phase or workstream.
Now that we have a task list, we’re ready to show off our project management skills. Create a Web Part page within your Teamsite or Community. We’ll be adding the Task List to the page 5 times and writing a different View for each instance. This will allow the project to be viewed by:
  • My Tasks
  • Overdue Tasks
  • Task Due This Week
  • Tasks Starting in a Week
  • Tasks by Person
A couple of things:
  • We’ll be using the [today] and [me] commands. These use the system settings for current date [today] and who ever is logged into SP [me]. This gives us the personalization we’re looking for
  • We’ll be using variables other than is equal to, specifically “not equal to,” “less than or equal to” and “greater than or equal to”

MY TASKS

We’ll start by personalizing the page by setting one version of the List to tasks assigned to you. You can do this 2 ways; you can simply Choose My Tasks from the Select View drop down. That’s OK, but I like to write the View because you have more control. We’ll be using the [me] command. Edit the Webpart and select the Edit the Current View link; it’s subtle – the blue text between Selected View and Toolbar Type. Go to Filter and select Column = “Assigned To” is “Equal To” and then [me]. Only those Tasks assigned to the person viewing the page will display, same as the simple way. I add another value so only active tasks are shown (who cares once something is done, right?) Click the “and” radio button and set the filter for Task Status is “not equal to” Completed. Now only my active tasks are displayed so I know what I need to work on.

OVERDUE TASKS

The most important thing to the PM is what is overdue; who do I need to hunt down. We’ll be leveraging the [today] command here. Select another version of the List that you’ve added to the page. Set the Filter column “Due Date” to “less than or equal to” and [today], choose radio button “and” and task status is “not equal to” “Completed” Now all the late tasks are there for the whole world to see. I keep this one and the My Tasks at the top of the page.

TASKS DUE THIS WEEK/TASKS STARTING IN A WEEK

This will give a you insight into what is coming due and what is starting, which is a good way to balance your resources. For Due this Week, set the Column = “Due Date” is “greater than or equal to” and then add [today]. Add another set by selecting the “and” radio button and set Column = “Due Date” is “less than or equal to” and add [today]+7. This will bracket the tasks in a 1-week range. To make sure there are no completed tasks, we’ll first choose “”Show More Columns…” link to add another set of drop-downs and then select the “and” radio button and set Column = “Task Status” to “is not equal to” Completed. This will show all the other statuses except Completed, thus only active tasks. The process is the same for Tasks Starting in a week, except instead of Column = “Due Date” use “Start Date.”

TASKS BY PERSON

Finally you may want to know how all the tasks are distributed on the team. A simple grouping will show you how many tasks each person has. Just go into the View and set the Grouping to “By Assigned To.”
Make sure to change the title of each webpart for clarity. You can add all sorts of things to the page as well. I often add the project library so that people can get at shared docs. You can also show the project in Gantt form or any other combination by adding more filters to show workstreams or phase. By combining these techniques with dynamic and static content; plus a microblog stream, you have yourself a very effective and efficient project portal.
I’d love to know if anyone has a cleaner way to set the upcoming dates formula; I’ve been doing it this way for a while, so I just keep replicating the View settings every time I do it. Give it a shot and let me know how it goes.
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About John Buonora

Social Learning Manager and Strategist working on career number three. An Old School guy with Millennial skills and a lover of my family, sports and food.
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