One of the challenges facing project managers who use the Microsoft PPM solution (Project Online or Project Server) is how to prevent team members from entering additional time on completed tasks. For example, two weeks ago a team member named Mickey Cobb used the Timesheet page in Project Web App to enter time on a task. The time she entered resulted in the completion of the task. Two weeks later, Mickey performs work that does not coincide with any task to which she is assigned. Being a dutiful team member, Mickey wants to enter time somewhere, so she enters the time on the task she completed two weeks earlier. This is not a good practice and should be prevented. Fortunately, Microsoft offers us two different method for locking completed tasks.
One way to prevent team members from entering additional time on a completed task is to use a feature that has been in Project Web App for many years: the Locked column. To lock a task using this feature, the project manager must do the following:
- Log into Project Web App with Project Manager permissions.
- Navigate to the Project Center
- Click the name of an enterprise project to open it as Read-Only in a web view.
- In the “drill down” section at the top of the Quick Launch menu, click the Schedule link to display a detailed view of the project.
- Click the Task tab to expand the Task
- In the Project section of the Task ribbon, click the Edit pick list button and select the In Browser item to check out the project for editing in your browser, as shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1: Check out the project for editing
7. In the Data section of the View ribbon, click the View pick list button and select the Close Tasks to Update view, as shown in Figure 2. This view includes the Locked column that you can use to prevent team members from entering additional time on completed tasks.
Figure 2: Select the Close Tasks to Update view
8. Set the Locked value to Yes for every detail task that is 100% complete, as shown in Figure 3. A detail task is any task with resources assigned. You do not need to specify a Locked value for summary tasks and milestone tasks.
Figure 3: Set the Locked value to Yes
9. In the Project section of the Task ribbon, click the Publish
10. When the publish job is completed, click the Close button in the Project section of the Task
11. When prompted in a confirmation dialog, leave the Check it in value selected and then click the OK
As you can see from the previous set of steps, it is a lengthy process to lock completed tasks using this method. To our benefit, however, Microsoft recently introduced a new feature to speed up this process by allowing you to use the Locked column in Microsoft Project. To lock a task using this new feature, the project manager must complete the following steps:
- Launch Microsoft Project Professional and connect to Project Web App in the Login
- Open an enterprise project and check out the project for editing.
- Apply any task view, such as the Gantt Chart view, for example.
- Right-click on the column header of any column, such as the Duration column, and then select the Insert Column item on the shortcut menu.
- In the list of available task columns, select the Locked
- Set the Locked value to Yes for every detail task that is 100% complete, as shown in Figure 4.
- Save and publish the enterprise project, then close and check in the project.
I think you can see that the process for locking completed tasks is much simpler using the Microsoft Project desktop client than it is using the Project Web App user interface. Using either method will prevent your team members from adding time to each task you lock.