Introduction

Frequently we encounter clients who say that their team members complain about cluttered task lists and timesheets because many tasks from completed projects are still visible, even though they are complete. Furthermore, resource managers may feel that the Resource Assignments view available from the Resource Center is unusable due to the volume of old tasks in the view. How do we go about removing old projects and tasks that no longer apply? This is vitally important, because we all know that resources don’t like to fill out timesheets. Anything we can do to improve the timesheet experience will probably result in a higher percentage of resources complying with the timesheet policy, thus providing a more accurate picture of work taking place. We also want to improve the effectiveness of resource managers by providing Resource Assignment views that contain only tasks that still apply. All of this is closely related to a proper governance process for closing projects, and there are some best practices we will review around that topic.

Goal

The objective is to ensure that tasks that are part of completed or cancelled projects do not appear in My Tasks, Timesheet, and Resource Assignments views. Any actual work on these tasks must still be correctly rendered in Resource Availability views, and in any reports that utilize the OLAP cubes or the Reporting database/tables. Furthermore, we want to ensure that we take appropriate steps to close out the project schedule.

Solution

There are a number of fields in Project Server that could have an impact on tasks that are visible, and could be part of our solution.

  1. Close Tasks to Update (Project Server 2010) or Locked (Project Server 2013)
  2. Resource Booking Type
  3. Published

The question is, what effects do these fields have on the various resource-related views?

Close Tasks to Update (Project Server 2010) or Locked (Project Server 2013)

The primary purpose of the Close Tasks to Update (or Locked) feature is to prevent resources from charging additional work hours to project tasks. In Project Server 2010 this feature may be accessed from Project Center.

How to Remove Completed and Cancelled Projects and Tasks from Timesheets in Project Server

How to Remove Completed and Cancelled Projects and Tasks from Timesheets in Project Server

The project manager may select individual project tasks, or all project tasks by clicking on the check boxes next to the task name in the Lock column. The tasks become closed when the project manager clicks Publish. What effects does this produce for the resources?

  • The tasks are no longer visible in My Tasks
  • The tasks remain in any existing timesheets
  • The tasks are not available in new timesheets
  • The tasks remain in the Resource Assignment view

Resource Booking Type

The Booking Type is used to specify if a resource is “Committed” to the project, or is merely “Proposed”. This field is used primarily in the early planning stages of the project to request resources. Once resource assignments are agreed upon, the project manager may change the Booking Type from “Proposed” to “Committed”. Upon publishing this change, the task assignments will appear in the resources’ views. Note that Booking Type is set at the project level. Changing it on one project does not affect assignments on other projects.

How to Remove Completed and Cancelled Projects and Tasks from Timesheets in Project Server

So what happens if we reverse this process, and change the Booking Type from “Committed” to “Proposed”? This will result in the following.

  • The tasks are no longer visible in My Tasks
  • The tasks are no longer visible in any existing timesheets
  • The tasks are not available in new timesheets
  • The tasks remain in the Resource Assignment view

This looks very similar to what happens by “Close Tasks to Update”, except that the tasks are removed from existing timesheets. This could be problematic if team members have not submitted all their hours!

Publish

The Publish field may be utilized to manage the tasks that are pushed to team members for execution. For example, a project manager on an active project may learn of additional project scope and begin building out the details in the schedule. To prevent publishing of these tasks that are not fully estimated, the project manager can set Publish = No for the selected tasks. Later, when the task details have been fully defined, changing Publish to Yes will makes those tasks visible in team members’ task lists.

How to Remove Completed and Cancelled Projects and Tasks from Timesheets in Project Server

If the project manager changes Publish to No for a task that was previously published, the following changes occur.

  • The tasks are no longer visible in My Tasks
  • The tasks are no longer visible in any existing timesheets
  • The tasks are not available in new timesheets
  • The tasks are no longer visible in the Resource Assignment view

The Publish field exhibits similar behavior to Booking Type = Proposed, with the exception that Publish = No also removes the tasks from the Resource Assignments view.

The table below summarizes the behavior of the three options. Note that Publish = No is the only option that cleans up all the views.

How to Remove Completed and Cancelled Projects and Tasks from Timesheets in Project Server

One interesting fact is that both Close Tasks to Update and Publish are set at the task level, so if multiple resources are assigned to a task then all of them will be impacted. On the other hand, Booking Type is set at the resource level, so it will impact all assignments for that resource in that project.

Best Practices for Closing or Cancelling a Project

Now that we understand the best way to clean up old tasks from resource views, we turn our attention to the project closure process. An effective PPM system includes proper governance to ensure the accuracy and integrity of the data. An essential element of this governance is addressing projects that are completed or cancelled, and to perform several actions on them. We want to ensure that all work effort has been captured, that resources have no remaining work on the project, and that PWA views of active projects and tasks no longer include these completed and cancelled items. Here are the steps that should be taken.

  1. Process all updates from team members
    It probably goes without saying that we want to capture the total work effort for each project. Since some of the next steps will impact the ability of team members to report their actual work, the first order of business is to inform the project team that you will be closing the project and that they need to submit all hours worked. Once all hours have been submitted, and any discrepancies have been addressed, approve and publish all the task updates.
  2. Update the Project Status Date
    The project Status Date is the mechanism by which the project manager communicates how up to date the project progress is. This date should reflect the end of the reporting period for which task updates were received. One may set this date in the Project Information dialog as shown below.How to Remove Completed and Cancelled Projects and Tasks from Timesheets in Project Server
  3. Update project milestones
    Project milestones are not automatically updated by the process of accepting team member progress updates, so the project manager must mark them complete. The best way to do this is to insert the column Actual Finish in the Gantt Chart view. For each milestone that is complete, set the Actual Finish date to the date the milestone was achieved. One could also set % Complete = 100%, but one must be aware that this will automatically set the Actual Finish date to whatever date was in the Finish field, even if that was not the date the milestone was achieved. This is the reason that best practice is to set Actual Finish directly.
  4. Remove any remaining work
    If there is any remaining work on a project it will impact resource utilization and availability. In the example Resource Availability report below, available in the Sensei Report Pack, we notice a shortfall of Business Analysts in June.How to Remove Completed and Cancelled Projects and Tasks from Timesheets in Project ServerTo ensure that this data is accurate it is vital to remove any remaining work on completed and cancelled projects. The easiest way to do this is to insert the column Remaining Work in the Gantt Chart view, and set the value to 0 for all tasks in the project. If you have any tasks that are Fixed Duration, set Remaining Duration to 0 for those tasks so that all tasks are marked complete.How to Remove Completed and Cancelled Projects and Tasks from Timesheets in Project Server
  5. Remove project tasks from My Tasks, Timesheets, and Resource Assignments views.
    As we determined earlier, this is best accomplished by inserting the column Publish in the Gantt Chart view, and setting the value to No for all tasks in the project.
  6. Update the project status to reflect that the project is no longer active
    Most likely your organization uses a project-level custom field to distinguish the state of a project, e.g. “Active”, “Closed”, “Cancelled”, etc. This field is typically used to filter non-active projects from Project Center views. For example, the view below is called “Active Project Summary” and includes only projects where the project state is “Active”. To remove the completed or cancelled project from the active project views, open the Project Information dialog and set the project state field used by your organization. If your organization uses a workflow to manage project phases then this project status may be updated automatically.How to Remove Completed and Cancelled Projects and Tasks from Timesheets in Project Server
  7. Publish the project
    After completing steps 1-6, your project is now ready to be officially closed. The final step in the process is to publish your project to make everything official.

Conclusion and Recommendation

The preferred method of removing old tasks from a resource’s task list is to set Published = No. Before performing this action, make sure that all time has been submitted, approved, and published.

In addition, when projects are closed or cancelled there are steps that the project manager should take to zero out the Remaining Work, remove the tasks from the resources’ list, and update the project state. This will ensure that the project and resource views in the system are not skewed by projects that are no longer in flight.

 

About Sensei Project Solutions
Sensei Project Solutions is a Microsoft Partner specializing in Project and Portfolio Management (PPM) deployments with Microsoft Project and Project Server on the SharePoint platform. With extensive experience on hundreds of PPM deployments and with thousands of users trained, Sensei Project Solutions brings a process-focused approach; and support for industry standards and best practices to all engagements. We offer a complete set of services to help an organization make their Microsoft PPM deployment successful, including full implementation and support services, training, as well as pre-configured solutions and report packs.  info@senseiprojectsolutions.com