Using the Schedule Task Dialog: Best Practices and Guidance

Modified on Tue, 21 May 2024 at 07:55 PM

Navigating and updating tasks efficiently is crucial for effective project management. The Schedule Task Dialog is designed to provide a comprehensive and user-friendly interface for managing schedule items. Here’s a detailed guide on how to use this tool, along with best practices to ensure your project stays on track.



Accessing the Schedule Task Dialog


  1. From the Project Workspace: Navigate to the Schedule section by scrolling down or selecting Schedule on the left navigation pane and select Edit Gantt to navigate to the gantt view.
  2. Opening the Dialog: To update a schedule task, double-click on an item on the schedule to open the schedule dialog. 



Here you can edit all details and add comments.




Navigating the Dialog


The options on the left side of the dialog allow you to navigate directly to the relevant section, with a badge count indicating the number of items in each section. This helps in quickly locating and updating the necessary information.


Task Details


Title: Name of the schedule item

Ensure the title is clear and descriptive to easily identify the task within the schedule.


Description: Additional details about the schedule item: 

Use the 'See description' dropdown option for detailed notes. Provide sufficient detail to give context and understanding to anyone reviewing the task. Make sure the description is clear and comprehensive to ensure all stakeholders understand the purpose and status of the task.


Type: 

Each task type plays a specific role in project management, contributing to the overall success of the project. For a comprehensive understanding of the different task types, refer to this article. Below is a brief overview of each type: 

  • Phases: Distinct periods in the project lifecycle representing groups of related activities necessary to achieve specific objectives. Phases help organize the project into manageable parts, each with its own focus and goals. They often conclude with a review or milestone. For example, in a Cloud Migration project, phases might include Planning, Data Profiling, Data Backup, Migration Design, and Execution. 
  • Workstreams: Parallel tracks of activities or tasks progressing concurrently within a project, each dedicated to a specific domain. Workstreams enhance specialisation and efficient execution of tasks, each with its own deliverables and milestones. For instance, in a Construction project, workstreams might include Site Preparation, Foundation, Structure, Plumbing, and Electrical. 
  • Deliverables: Tangible, measurable outcomes produced upon completing specific phases or workstreams. They are critical outputs representing project objectives, serving as benchmarks for progress and success. In a sustainable energy project, deliverables could include site assessments, compliance reports, material procurement, and infrastructure construction. 
  • Actions: Specific tasks or activities needed to achieve a deliverable or advance the project. Actions are granular, with clear objectives, assigned resources, and timelines for completion. In a data centre development project, actions might include drafting architecture plans, conducting design reviews, and implementing security measures. 
  • Milestones: Strategically significant points within the project timeline marking the completion of major deliverables or phases. Milestones are key achievements used to monitor progress and ensure the project stays on track. They facilitate timely interventions and adjustments. Examples in a training website launch project might include securing application approvals, completing content uploads, and the official website launch. 

Select the appropriate type for each task to ensure accurate tracking and reporting. Note that actions require at least one assignee and that they will appear in the assignees' dashboard.


Priority: High, Medium or Low

Set priorities based on the task's impact on the project timeline and deliverables. Ensure high-priority tasks are closely monitored and resources are allocated to address them promptly.


Promoted: Use this setting to control the visibility of schedule items in different reporting contexts:

  • To Program: Report the schedule item up to the program and portfolio dashboards to provide visibility at the highest level, ensure alignment with strategic objectives, and facilitate stakeholder and executive review.
  • To Parent Project: Report up to the top parent project to maintain oversight and integration with larger, related projects. This ensures that the parent project manager has a comprehensive view of all sub-project activities, facilitating better coordination, resource allocation, and alignment with the overarching goals of the larger project without overwhelming the program-level dashboard with too much detail.
  • To Dashboard: Report only on the project the schedule item belongs to for focused tracking and management within the specific project.
  • Not Promoted: The item should not be reported at all on any dashboards to keep it internal and limit its visibility to project team members only.


Auto-calculate flag: When set to YES, the item respects the duration of its child items. The start and end dates of the item are not editable and will automatically match the earliest start date and the latest end date of its child items. This flag cannot be set on Milestones.

This feature is useful for tasks that depend on the completion of sub-tasks, ensuring accurate timelines without manual adjustments.


Start Date, Effort and End Date: 

  • Start Date/Effort/End Date: Set the start and end dates, and effort of the schedule item. You can set any two of the three values (Start Date and Effort, Effort and End Date, or Start Date and End Date), and the third value will be automatically calculated based on the input values.
  • For Milestones, only the end date field is presented, and the duration defaults to 1 day.
  • If the Gantt schedule is set to include weekends, the duration will include those days.
  • If the Gantt schedule is set to exclude weekends, the duration will exclude weekend days.

Consistently update start and end dates to reflect realistic timelines and adjust for any changes in project scope or resources. 


Alternate DateAllows you to set an alternate completion date for the item. Use this to accommodate potential changes in the project schedule.


Status and % Complete: 

Status: Select from Not Started, In Progress, or Completed. Regularly updating the status is important as it provides a clear indication of the task's progress and helps in tracking the overall project timeline. This ensures that all stakeholders are aware of the current state of each task and can take action if necessary. 


% Complete: The percentage complete is linked to the status of the task. For example, Not Started corresponds to 0%, In Progress should reflect the actual progress made, and Completed corresponds to 100%. Changing the status will automatically update the % complete accordingly, and changing the % complete will update the status. For instance, setting % complete to 100% will mark the task as Completed. 


Update the status and % complete regularly to reflect the actual progress of the task. By maintaining accurate and consistent status and % complete values, project managers can effectively monitor progress and ensure that the project stays on track.


Assigned to: Specify the assignee, or assignees, for the item. Ensure the correct individuals are assigned to maintain accountability and clarity on who is responsible for each task.



Checklist 

Create and Track Activities: A checklist can be created to help track what needs to be done to close out a schedule item. This ensures that all necessary activities are completed systematically and nothing is overlooked.



Flex Work 

The Flex Work section allows you to allocate and track the hours assigned to each resource for a specific task. This feature helps you manage resource allocations efficiently by setting the expected hours for task completion and monitoring the remaining hours based on actual time booked. 

To use this feature: 

  • Setting Allocated Hours: Use the Flex Work area within the schedule dialog to input the anticipated work hours for each resource in the Allocated Hours field. Additionally, specify the associated business area in the Line of Business field. 
  • Tracking Remaining Hours: The system will automatically track the remaining hours as resources log their time against the task. 

This feature ensures efficient resource utilisation and timeline management by providing a clear view of resource commitments and availability. For more details on Flex Work, please refer to the Schedule-Based Allocation article.




Status Updates

Set a Red, Amber, Green (RAG) status to indicate how your item is progressing. The RAG status will be visible in the Gantt chart, the Project Workspace, and any project schedule reports, providing a quick visual indicator of task health and progress. Regularly updating the RAG status ensures that stakeholders are aware of potential issues and can address them promptly.



Predecessors

Manage Dependencies: Access and manage all the predecessors and successors for the item. You can change the type of relationship, set a lag, or delete the dependency altogether. This functionality helps in maintaining the correct sequence and timing of tasks. Keeping dependencies up to date helps in avoiding scheduling conflicts and ensures a smooth project flow.


Project Impacts

Link risks, issues, dependencies, or other project impacts to the schedule item. This provides a comprehensive view of all potential impacts and dependencies associated with the task, facilitating better risk management. Regularly reviewing and updating project impacts helps in early identification and mitigation of risks.



Attachments

Attach relevant documents or links to the schedule item to keep all necessary documentation together in one place. This ensures that all stakeholders have access to the most current and relevant information. Consistently attaching updated documents helps in maintaining accurate and comprehensive project records.


Follow on

Easily assign follow-on actions to individuals who need to complete activities in support of the schedule item. This ensures that all related activities are clearly assigned and tracked. Clearly defining follow-on actions helps in ensuring accountability and timely completion of tasks.



Comments

Add comments directly to the schedule item to keep all conversations around the item in one place. This is useful for tracking discussions and decisions, and for reviewing the conversation history in the future. Regularly adding comments helps in maintaining a transparent communication trail and provides valuable context for decision-making.



Tools Menu

From the task dialog, you have access to three tools options: 

  1. Baseline: Use this to create a baseline for the task, allowing you to track deviations from the original plan.  Learn more on schedule baseline, click here.
  2. Open Parent: Use the Open Parent option to access the parent task of the sub-task in the task hierarchy, facilitating easier navigation and context understanding. 
  3. Permalink: Use the Permalink to share a direct link to this item, ensuring easy access for team members and stakeholders.






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