Keeping team members aware of their assigned tasks and the dependencies between their assignments and the overall project is a key feature of Project Server. In this article, we will review how team members can keep informed on the project big picture by viewing the overall project tasks list, as well as how they can better understand and report time against the tasks they are responsible for. Project Online/Project Server can be a key component in effective project status communications.
Viewing Project Tasks on the Project Site
In order to ensure that team members get the big picture of a specific project, in Project Online/Server they can view the project plan using the ‘Tasks’ link from the ‘Quick Launch’ within a project site. This provides a view of the project plan that the team members can review to develop a better understanding of the complete project and/or see their tasks in the context of the overall project.
While the team member has no ability to change the project within this list, it is important because it allows the individual team members to remain engaged in the overall project and stay informed as other tasks on the project change. The ‘List ribbon’ is available to the team member to manipulate the information being displayed; specifically, using the ‘Manage Views section’, team members can select different views, such as ‘My Active Tasks’, ‘Late Tasks’ or ‘Upcoming’ to see a specific segment of the schedule of interest to them.
My Tasks and Timesheet
While the task-view discussed above allows a team member to view all tasks for a project, usually the team member will want to focus only on the tasks they are responsible for (assigned to). As a team member will often be assigned to multiple projects, Tasks and Timesheets are accessed from the PWA main page. A team member may quickly view his or her assigned project tasks by selecting either Tasks or Timesheets from the PWA quick launch. ‘Tasks’ differs from ‘Timesheet’ in that only project task assignments are visible from Tasks, while administrative categories such as vacation, sick, etc. are also displayed on the Timesheet. The other key distinction is that the Timesheet provides a 1-week view of project assignments, while the Tasks view shows all assignments.
Viewing all Task assignments
The ‘Tasks’ view provides a complete list of all task assignments across all projects categorized into Planning Windows for ‘In Progress for Current Period’, ‘Near Future – Next 2 Periods’, ‘Distant Future’ and ‘Completed’. These planning windows make the viewing and managing of project tasks easier, because you can directly access the timeframe of interest. This view is used by the team member to understand all the work that is assigned to them, but they can also update actuals from here if the organization is not using the timesheet functionality.
If your view does not show the Gantt Chart on the right, from the ‘Tasks ribbon > Display section’ select ‘Layout’ and select Gantt Chart from the dropdown list.
Completing the Timesheet
When an organization chooses to use the Timesheet functionality, all project resources must fill in a timesheet with project time and non-project time for the past reporting period. This is the primary mechanism for reporting the progress and remaining effort on all active projects, so it is vitally important that the data is accurate.
To enter time details, on a weekly basis each team member, including the project managers, selects ‘Timesheet’ from the ‘Task section’ of the project home page.
Assuming you are completing your timesheet for the current week, this will take you directly to the appropriate timesheet, but you should always validate the timesheet date.
In order to help each team member plan and track their time on a weekly basis, we recommend ensuring that the ‘Planned’ hours are visible. If ‘Planned’ is not showing on your current view, select the ‘Options’ tab to reactivate the ribbon and then ensure that the ‘Planned’ checkbox is selected in the ‘Show/Hide section’.
Each team member will be required to enter three key pieces of information into the timesheet:
- Actual time worked per day on each task
- Estimated effort to complete the task (realistic estimate, not just the subtraction of actual from original plan)
- Any non-project time worked
On a daily (worst-case weekly) basis, each team member will be expected to record hours by task by entering the actual hours worked on each task directly into the timesheet cells. After all the detailed time is entered, the ‘Save’ button from the ‘Timesheet ribbon > Submit section’ should be selected, as it not only saves the time entered, but it also reduces the ‘Remaining Work’ column by the time worked during the week.
Prior to submission, each team member is expected to review and update the ‘Remaining Work’ column to accurately reflect their current expectation for how much work remains to fully complete the task. We recommend paying particular attention to any tasks where the ‘Save’ reduced the ‘Remaining Work’ to zero to ensure that the task is really done as opposed to simply running out of time. We strongly encourage that comments be added to any tasks where there is a significant change (up or down) in the remaining work to help explain the change. We as the project managers can then use these comments to better understand the reasons for the change and possibly work directly with the team member to clarify the expectations of the task to avoid doing extra or out-of-scope work.
Tasks that are completed should always have the ‘Remaining Work’ set to zero to indicate that the task is complete.
At any time during timesheet entry, a team member can select a task name to bring up the ‘Task Details’ window showing the task’s progress to date, start and finish dates, and history of current changes to the task. Scrolling this window provides information related to risks, issues and documents associated with the task, details of resource assignment, and the task’s predecessors and successors.
If team members work on a task that doesn’t appear on the current timesheet, they can add a new row to the timesheet using the ‘Timesheet ribbon > Tasks section > Add Row’.
Adding rows to the timesheet will invoke a selection window where team members can navigate to the appropriate project, deliverable and task that they want to add to their timesheet.
Finally, the team member would enter any non-project time into the administrative section of the timesheet. We have included rows for administrative, sick, support and vacation, but each organization is likely to have its own categories for non-project time tracking. The total of all time worked each week should never be less than the standard work hours for your organization.
Typically at the end of each week, each team member would use the ‘Timesheet ribbon > Submit section’ to ‘Send’ their timesheet by selecting ‘Turn in Final Timesheet’ from the drop-down list. As you can see from the screen shot, there are options to submit incremental progress that are not discussed in this article.
Assuming that the ‘Turn in Final Timesheet’ option was selected, the timesheet is then locked against future edits by the team member. PWA will then route the timesheet to the ‘Timesheet’ approver(s) for review and approval (prior to updating the project plans).
We will discuss the process for a manager approving timesheets as well the process for requesting Personal Time Off in future articles.
This article has been extracted from the book Proactive PPM with Microsoft Project 2013 for Project Server and Project Online.
About Sensei Project Solutions, Inc.
Sensei Project Solutions, Inc. winner of the 2014 Microsoft Project and Portfolio Management (PPM) Partner of the Year, specializes in PPM deployments with Microsoft Project, Microsoft Project Server and Microsoft Project Online. 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. As a Gold certified Microsoft Partner, we offer a complete set of services to help an organization make their Microsoft PPM deployment successful, including full implementation and support services, training, pre-configured solutions, report packs, and Apps across multiple platforms.