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

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

Terry Kneeburg
Written by Terry Kneeburg

Principal Consultant.
Terry has more than 25 years combined experience in product development, project management, and consulting. He has been working with the Microsoft Project Server platform since 2004. At that time he led his mobile phone development organization in the deployment of EPM. Terry is passionate about helping clients achieve success in managing their project portfolios, delivering to companies in a variety of industries including Healthcare, Transportation, State and Local Government, Energy, Technology, Insurance, and Pharmaceuticals. He has conducted training classes for project managers, administrators, portfolio managers, and team members.

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43 Comments
  1. Great article two pieces that I still have question on:
    1) what is the impact to the data in the cube?
    2) what is theimpact to EVM calculations?

    Reply
  2. Terry Kneeburg

    JB, Actual Work data is preserved in the Reporting tables, so there is no impact to that data in the OLAP cube. If you are changing Remaining Work or Remaining Duration to 0, there may be a small impact on EVM calculations, but you are updating all the tasks to reflect the reality that no additional work will be performed.

    Reply
  3. We have seen a lot of issues with people using Publish=No. When that is set while a project is still in motion to deter people from entering time against the project’s completed tasks, by setting Publish to NO, after a few times of saving and publishing, the actuals begin to disappear from the plan. We worked with Microsoft and discovered that after so many times, Publish=No essentially wipes the time right out of the system as if the task did not even exist. Anyone else encounter this? We are using Project Server 2007.

    Reply
  4. Terry Kneeburg

    Bridget, that is the first I have heard of that. I do not recommend using Publish = No for projects that are still in flight. In that case the preferred method is Close Tasks to Update. Once the project is completed or cancelled it is appropriate to use Publish = No. Just make sure to follow the steps in the article to close out the project properly. Hope this helps.

    Reply
  5. GREAT article! We have had much debate over the use of these functions and have never pinned it down like you have here. We will update our project close process to include your receommendations. Thanks.

    Reply
  6. Reply
  7. Terry Kneeburg

    Thank you, Paul. I’m glad the article was helpful!

    Reply
  8. Terry Kneeburg

    Gord, thank you for the link to the article. This recommendation is not intended to be applied to projects in flight, but projects that are closed. The key component of the solution is to make sure that all time has been submitted and approved (see step 1) BEFORE using the Publish field.

    Reply
  9. Thank you very much Terry. Clear and helpful for me.
    I think a good rule is to fix a period before activating a closure procedure, avoiding so risk of losing information from my team.

    Reply
  10. Terry Kneeburg

    You are welcome, Daniele. I agree that it is a good idea to allow for a period of time to elapse before beginning the closure procedure. In that way you make sure that all the project work is completely finished, and that resources submit 100% of their hours.

    Reply
  11. Very helpful step-by-step guide. This was useful in cleaning up completed tasks that were still showing for our Users. After following all the steps, the tasks disappear in all the Views except for the Resource Availability view. Is this process intended to eliminate the tasks and completed projects from this view as the document does not specifically mention the Resource Availability View?

    Reply
  12. Terry Kneeburg

    Daiva, I’m glad the guide was helpful. This process will not remove tasks and projects from the Resource Availability view.

    Reply
  13. Great article. I wish to use the “Close Tasks to Update” functionality because I still want to see the items in existing timesheets. One thing I have noticed is that if I close a task, then the Owner of the Project can still see the task in the timesheet. It seems that there is no way around this for the Project Owner. Is this correct?

    Reply
  14. In our organization we seem to have the opposite need. We use the timesheet and tasks to track actuals for our cost allocation reporting. We, the PMs, like that the timesheet makes the actuals data static for these reports, so that when we adjust our project plan it does not affect the submitted hours from the resource. Our delima is that some managers feel that each day’s hours for a resource should always match the project plan. Ofcourse when work is adjusted for going forward or when the duration extends, the work levels and a specific day in the plan will not match the timesheet actuals which some managers are always comparing. Is there a way to keep the actuals from not leveling or changing within the project plan as the schedule or remaining work changes?

    Reply
  15. Terry Kneeburg

    Chris, using Close Tasks to Update does not remove the tasks from existing timesheets, nor from the Resource Assignments view. However, newly created timesheets should not include the task, even if the user is the Project Owner. Does that answer your question?

    Reply
  16. Terry Kneeburg

    Carolyn, which version of Project Server are you using? If 2010 or 2013, do you have Single Entry Mode enabled?
    I think it is unrealistic to expect that actuals will always match the plan. That’s just not the way things happen in reality! Best practice is to capture actual work from the resources, apply the actual work to the project schedule, then adjust the updated plan accordingly. Project schedules are intended to be dynamic models of the project. They are not set in stone.

    Reply
  17. Great article. Wish I had seen it sooner. Learned many of these things the hard way but learned some new things also. Is the “closed to update” status reportable in the reporting database? I don’t see anything that might correlate in dbo.MSP_epmtask.

    Reply
  18. Great article! One thing I didn’t see specifically mentioned was the use of the project-level time reporting feature. I found that if you do not close the project summary task via Close Tasks to Update, users can still log time against the project-level via the Insert Row > Insert Task option – even if you set Publish = No for all sub-tasks. Have you encountered the same? I was using PS 2010 when I encountered this.

    Reply
  19. Terry, as a follow up from my previous comment, we are using top level time reporting, so the users can only track time to Projects, not tasks. What we see is that after closing all tasks (including project summary task) to update, the owner of the project always sees his/her project in the timesheet.

    Reply
  20. When a project is closed is it possible to remove the Project Name from the Project list shown on the “Add an Existing Task” screen? The tasks no longer show but if possible I would like to also stop the project from showing.

    Reply
  21. Terry Kneeburg

    Dennis, if you don’t want the project name showing in the Add an Existing Task screen then you could set the Resource Booking Type to Proposed for all the resources on the completed project. You can insert the “Booking Type” column in the Resource Sheet view in MS Project.

    Reply
  22. Terry Kneeburg

    Chris, I haven’t tested the scenario where top level time reporting is used. Have you tried setting the resources’ Booking Type to “Proposed”?

    Reply
  23. Terry Kneeburg

    Jennifer, as I mentioned to Chris, I haven’t tested the scenario where top level time reporting is used. Have you tried setting the resources’ Booking Type to “Proposed”?

    Reply
  24. Hello Terry, what a great article. Our company is on Project Server 2013. I personally do not see the “Lock” column or field in Project. Or the “Close Tasks to Update” option. Do you have any advice on how to complete this step for projects on Project Server 2013?

    Reply
  25. Terry Kneeburg

    Hi Justin, the “Lock” column in Project Server 2013 is only available in PWA. You will need to expose this column in a Project view in PWA. If you have Administrator rights, go to PWA Server Settings, then Manage Views. The Project views are the ones at the top of the list. You can modify one of the existing views, or create a new Project view that includes the Lock column. Good luck!

    Reply
  26. What is the process to ‘hide’ all of the closed projects and their tasks in Resource Availability? All tasks are completed 100% but still show. Using Project Server 2010 and we are NOT using time sheets.

    Reply
  27. What is the process to ‘hide’ all of the closed projects and their tasks in Resource Availability? All tasks are completed 100% but still show. What are our options? Using Project Server 2010 and we are NOT using time sheets.

    Reply
  28. Terry Kneeburg

    Rachelle, if you want to hide a closed project in the Resource Availability views you may set the Booking Type to Proposed for all resources in the project. Hope this helps.

    Reply
  29. In my organization, team members have the ability to add new tasks to projects. While the above is very helpful in removing the existing tasks from their timesheets and not able to add more hours to the existing tasks, it does not stop them from adding new tasks to the project.

    I understand that adding new tasks has to be approved by the PM before it affects the project, but most PM’s do not look at the details of the updates and approve everything that comes to them and sometime the team members submit it to the wrong project. Is there something i am missing here to stop them from adding new tasks to a “closed” project?

    Thanks,
    Samir

    Reply
  30. Terry Kneeburg

    Samir, if you allow team members to add new tasks, and project managers are not reviewing the details, then you will need to move the closed projects to a category that is denied to team members. Please note that the ‘Deny’ will trump everything else, so it is possible that it may have some unintended side effects. The preferred solution is for project managers to reject the new tasks. Hope this helps.

    Reply
  31. Great article! Very helpful. I have the opposite problem, I want our “support” tasks to auto populate on the timesheets. The resources can use the Add Line function to put them on their timesheets, but we would rather have them auto-populate like the project tasks do. In reading through the above article, we have the Publish and Committed flags set. The one difference between our support plans and project plans is that we set the support plans with Resource Plans (“use it or lose it”), and zero Remaining Work (“nothing rolls forward”). Would this cause the tasks not to auto-populate?

    Reply
  32. Terry Kneeburg

    Thank you very much, Donna. If the Remaining Work is 0 then the tasks will not auto-populate in the timesheets. Hope this helps.

    Reply
  33. What specifically does the flag at the top of the Resource Plan screen control. The one that says “use Project Plan” or “use Resource Plan” or “use Project Plan until….”?

    Reply
  34. Terry Kneeburg

    Donna, the ‘Calculate from” Resource Utilization setting in the Resource Plan is where you tell the tool if you want to use the work hours from the Resource Plan or the Project Plan when looking at Resource Availability. Hope this helps.

    Reply
  35. Hi Terry, I have short question: is it possible to undo operation of closing tasks for update? I cannot find any information about it.

    Reply
  36. Terry Kneeburg

    Hi Tomasz, yes, you just need to unlock them and publish the project. In 2010, just uncheck the box in the ‘Lock’ column and publish. In 2013 or Project Online, set the column ‘Locked’ to ‘No’ and publish. This is all done in PWA. Hope this helps.

    Reply
  37. Terry … so simple, I would never figure out that it is in the same place. Thank you for your help.

    Reply
  38. With a help of VBA and forms you can loop all projects with a certain status and unpublishe unfinished tasks. Terry did not mension that you need to put the project in a special security group where it becomes invisible for the users.
    the problem i have with the solution of Terry is changing the work remaining per task.
    it is not always that the tasks were finished, most of the time some task are irrelevant and left out. by saying that they are completed you would manipulate the hours of work done.
    howevere, unpublishing tasks does not help to remove the tasks from the reporting database, they are still there , with all the records per day. Is this a bug? i do not know, but it is not clear how to tell the project stop counting the remaining work without deleting the tasks. (what we want to avoid).

    Reply
  39. Terry, Nice article and useful to setout what happens with the different field values. I misread the bit about taking the projects out of the Resource Assignments and thought you were talking about the Resource Availability as that view also gets cluttered up with redundant information. Is there a way of removing projects from that view as well?

    Reply
  40. Just noticed the comment on 07/01/2014 at 9:08 pm that answers my question.
    This there a way of removing the My Timesheets entries from the Resource Availability view as well?

    Reply
  41. Terry Kneeburg

    Doug, thank you for the kind words! Unfortunately, I am not aware of any way to remove the My Timesheets entries.

    Reply
  42. Chief,how you displayed resouce capacity and actuals can you explain briefly.thanks

    Reply
  43. We just replaced a large number of our project plans. On the old plans, tasks have remaining work reduced to 0, Publish set to NO, and booking type to Proposed. This removed the old tasks from the current section of the new timesheets. However, the old tasks still appear in the bottom of the timesheet as completed and a user can select and “add tasks to timesheet”. Is there a way to disable that button, hide that entire bottom section, or prevent completed tasks from appearing in that bottom area?

    Reply

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