This article covers:
- Task types;
- Sort order;
- Task import wizard;
- Importing additional fields;
- Map the fields in the system configuration
- Update from PPO
- Gantt chart;
- Important notes.
A task in project management is an activity / work item that needs to be completed in a set time frame. There is generally a set start and end date. This is a planned event, typically included as part of the project plan / schedule. The roll-up of the individual task time frames will give you the start and end date of a project.
In PPO, each Task has, among other fields, a Planned Start Date, Planned End Date, Actual Start Date, Actual End Date, Task Type and one responsible person. (For detailed information on why only one responsible person is assigned, see the following FAQ).
PPO supports different types of Tasks. The types available by default are:
1. Project Task
The Project Task is also referred to as the line 0 task and encapsulates the whole project, from start to finish. This Task is identified in PPO as the Task where the sort order is 0 and the task type is Project Task.
2. Summary Task.
Summary tasks are used to group tasks together on the project Gantt Chart page.
Although summary tasks are not normally assigned to a responsible person, PPO does allow for that.
Tasks are the lowest level of activity on the project and will define the actual work to be done.
Milestones are checkpoints within a project that have to be achieved in order for the project to remain on track. Milestones are shown in blue on the project Gantt Chart page.
The Task sort order is an important field that helps create context and indicates the sequence in which tasks need to be completed. The task sort order can be changed by editing the tasks or by making use of the Sort Tasks action on the Task List page.
The Tasks Sort Order Edit page will appear, showing all tasks in the box on the left. Move the tasks to the box on the right in the sequence the tasks should appear, using the green arrows. Once all tasks are in the box on the right in the correct new sort order, click on submit.
PPO allows Tasks to be imported from Microsoft Project (MSP), Microsoft Excel, using Google Sheets and Excel for Mac. These tools are typically used during the planning phase of a project and allow project managers to develop project plans, assign resources to tasks, set up planned progress, define the critical path, and analyse workloads.
For additional information on importing using Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets and Excel for Mac, see the following FAQ.
It is important to note that in MSP as well as when using the other task templates, there is a possibility of leaving the Planned Start and Planned End dates empty. If you try to import with the blank required fields, PPO will show a validation error. You will then need to populate the required fields and re-import.
To import a project plan you have 2 options:
(1) Go to the Project View page of the project for which you want to import the schedule, scroll down to the Tasks section and click on the Import Tasks action item.
(2) Navigate to the Task List page via the Project menu. On the Task List, ensure that you have selected a specific project in the filter control. If you haven't selected a project, the Import action button will be greyed out.
The Import Task Wizard View page will open. This page allows the user to browse for the project plan they want to import. The PPO Task to Project Plan Field Mapping section shows the mapping as it has been set up from the System Configuration. PPO imports a standard set of fields from the schedule, but additional fields can also be mapped and imported. For more information, see the next section of this article.
After the project plan has been selected, you can import the plan by clicking on the Import button shown in the above screenshot.
After selecting the Import button you will be re-directed to a Summary page to give a quick overview of what is going to happen when importing.
Below are the details of the Summary page
Total number of tasks: This is the number of tasks contained in the schedule.
Tasks In PPO:
Total number of tasks: This is the total number of task records that currently exist in PPO for the project.
Tasks in PPO matched to the schedule: This is the number of tasks we could match between PPO and the schedule. We match the items based on the Unique ID (TaskCode in PPO).
Tasks in PPO not found in the schedule: This is the number of tasks that exist in PPO which we could not match to the schedule. This is also based on the Unique ID associated with the task.
Number of tasks that will be added: This is the number of new tasks we have identified in the schedule.
Number of tasks that will be updated: This is the number of matching tasks between PPO and the schedule.
Number of tasks that will be deleted: This is the number of tasks that exist in PPO but which could not be found in the schedule and are presumed to have been deleted from the schedule. By default these tasks will be deleted from PPO.
Delete tasks: This checkbox is used to indicate whether the user wants to delete the tasks we could not match. By default, this checkbox is checked which means we will delete the tasks in PPO not found in the schedule.
Override task percentage fields:
The tickboxes will by default be enabled if the values for these fields in PPO are 0 or if there are no tasks we simply import as is.
If the values in PPO are > 0 and the imported values are 0 we offer the user the choice whether to override the existing values or not.
Tasks that will be deleted
This is a table that displays an overview of the tasks we will be deleting. We remove this table if there are no tasks to be deleted or if the “Delete tasks” checkbox is unchecked.
If there are tasks that will be deleted, we will show the following confirmation prompt before we take any action:
PPO can be configured to import any additional field from the schedule, provided that a relevant target field is created on the Task entity of PPO prior to the import and the field is mapped in PPO’s system configuration.
Add / identify the field in the schedule
If the field does not already exist in the schedule (e.g. a custom field) you first need to create it. You can have a look at this FAQ for more details on how to set up a custom stage / phase field in MSP.
Add / identify the field in PPO
If a suitable field does not already exist, a field has to be created on PPO’s Task entity that will act as a target field for the information stored in the schedule. The type of field will depend on the type of information you want to import. For example, a phase field should be a custom list type field.
It is important at this stage to take note of the field name of the target field. The field key can be found on the Data Fields list page under the Field Name column.
Map the fields in the system configuration
The final step is to map the schedule field to the applicable PPO field in the System Configuration. To do this, navigate to the Administration Menu, select System Configuration, and scroll down to the Other Settings section.
For example: Responsibility=taskresourcephonetics;
It is important to add the word “task” before the Schedule field name, as well as to ensure the mapping is ended with a semi-colon (not a space or a full stop). Wherever the % (percentage sign) is used in a Schedule field name (such as % Complete), it should be replaced with the word percent when used in mapping under System Configuration (taskpercentcomplete).
You will now notice the newly mapped field on the first page of the Task Import wizard.
PPO allows users to update their MSP plan with information from PPO. This will typically be done to update the Actual Progress Percentage of Summary Tasks and the Project Task.
PPO does not group Tasks into summary tasks like MSP. Although summary tasks are used in PPO, each Task in PPO stands independently (there is no linking or dependency between tasks). This means that the individual Tasks grouped together in a summary task, will not automatically update the summary tasks' progress as the underlying tasks are updated.
For the summary tasks and project task's progress to be updated, the progress of all the underlying tasks (the tasks where the task type is "Task") has to be exported from PPO to MSP. MSP will then update the progress on the summary tasks and project task. After these tasks have been updated, the project plan can be re-imported into PPO.
In order to update an MSP plan from PPO, an MSP add-in needs to be installed. For full details on installing and using the MSP add-in, see the following FAQ.
You have two options to navigate to the Gantt Chart in PPO.
(1) Go to the Project View page of the project for which you want to view the Gannt scroll down to the Tasks section and click on the View Gantt Chart action item.
(2) Navigate to the Task List page via the Project menu. On the Task List, ensure that you have selected a specific project in the filter control. If you haven't selected a project, the Gantt Chart action button will be greyed out.
The Project Gantt Chart page allows various options depending on what you need to view:
(1) You have the option to either view the Gantt Chart for a single project, or for all by removing the project selected in the filter control. You can also apply a filter depending on which projects you want to view.
(2) Under the Actions menu, you either have the ability to import a schedule or to sort your tasks. The View action menu allows you to either view the Project or view the Task List. For both these menu's, if you don't select a Project, they will be greyed out.
(3) You will notice a very thin grey line between the fields and where the Gantt starts. Hovering over this line will show an arrow that will allow you to click and drag the Gantt to the left / right.
(4) The whole Gantt page can be zoomed in or out using the zoom functionality. The view can be zoomed out from showing one day at a time, to showing a weekly view, monthly view, quarterly view, and year view.
(5) The Settings button supports the same settings as for List Pages, but additionally allows you to select the columns to be used for rendering the Gantt like the Planned start, Planned end, and Progress fields.
Based on which fields you are adding as columns, the hover over the Gantt bar will show the details thereof. In the below example my columns on the page are Name, Type, Planned Progress %, Actual Progress % and whether the last is on the critical path.
The colours on the bars are presented as follows:
Project Task: Black bar indicates the Planned Start and Planned End. Dark grey indicates the Actual Progress and the light grey is the work that still needs to be done.
Summary Task: The dark blue line indicates the Planned Start and Planned End dates. The lighter shading of blue indicates the Actual Progress and the light grey indicates the work that still needs to be completed.
Critical Path: Tasks are shown in red.
If there are certain fields you require project managers to add to their project plans and import into PPO, it is a good idea to set up a template for project managers to use as a base when starting a new project plan. This template should already have all the necessary fields added and calculations set up, so that project managers only need to populate the plan with data, without the additional concerns of getting their project plans in the correct format for importing into PPO. This template project plan should then be made available on the Life Cycle as a template document.