Tracking Progress Using Project Web App
Our last post detailed the tracking options in Microsoft Project. This post will cover how to track progress with Project Web App.
Deciding on a Tracking Approach
Tracking progress has different implications for different roles and groups within an organization. Additionally, different organizations require different levels of detail. Consider the following roles:
Project managers typically want to know the progress on tasks for a particular project. They will be concerned with whether:
- Past tasks were finished on time
- The expected level of work (and cost) is being applied to present ones
- The total work (and cost) is in line with the original estimate
- The tasks will finish on time.
It is quite possible that the team member doing the work is also working on other projects. The project manager will have little interest in work on someone else’s project, so long as that work does not interfere with progress on their own project.
The manager of a department is typically interested in the utilization of their department members. Example concerns include:
- Are the department members fully utilized (on project work or otherwise)?
- Are they not working because of leave, etc.?
- If they are working overtime, what is the approval and funding process?
The resource manager may not be interested in the exact project tasks. They are, however, likely concerned with the amount of each type of work. This will probably have to be reconciled with the original estimates for the number of staff required to meet the department’s differing obligations.
The person actually doing the work may be concerned with showing that they are carrying out a full day’s work or that they are legitimately off work. They would also like reassurance that their managers are aware of their workload and are taking care to balance it out.
Also, senior management is interested in high-level performance statistics. This could include the balance of workload between departments or cost-effective use of skilled resources across the organization.
As a result of these different motivations, the people filling these roles often make different choices about what should be reported. This generally makes it a governance decision to determine how actual time spent by team members should be reported.
The method for reporting time spent on assignments is decided centrally and configured by the Project Server administrator. There are two basic approaches:
- Enter time against task updates only– The task update option is aimed at providing nothing but task update information from the team member to the project manager(s).
- Enter time in a timesheet against tasks and non-project (or administrative) time – The timesheet option is aimed at providing use of time information from the team member to the resource manager. This is for a set reporting period (e.g. a week) and includes non-project work.
The Tasks page lists assignments. You can access this page from either the Tasks link in the sidepane or the Tasks tile in the Carousel.
You can enter the task update entries and timesheet entries separately and synchronize them using the import method. The Project Server administrator can set the Single Entry Mode option on the server, which combines timesheet and task update information into a single entry view.
After the project manager publishes the assignment information, each team member receives an e-mail message with a link to Project Web App (unless this notification is turned off).
In addition to the task assignments from the projects, task updates and timesheets will also display administrative time categories that the Project Server administrator has set.
The following figure shows an example of how the Project Server administrator sets administrative time:
| Figure 1.
Configuring Administrative Time pane
Team members can view individual task assignments on their personal Tasks page. You can access this either by an e-mail link or from the Home page.
1 From your Project Web App Home page, click Tasks in the sidebar or click the Tasks tile in the carousel.
| Figure 2.
Links to the Tasks page
NOTE: the Tasks tile is configured to alert you to newly assigned tasks.
A grid view similar to the following figure appears by default. It lists basic data about each task, which Project groups by default. As is generally the case with PWA views, you can collapse or expand sections of the view. You can select a field for sorting by clicking on the column heading.
| Figure 3.
My Tasks page with New and Updated tags
2 Click on the Tasks in the ribbon to reveal the function buttons. From Tasks:Period click the Select Period icon  to access the Select Period dialog box. Here, you can specify the timesheet period you would like to see.
NOTE: The Project Server administrator can control which time periods are available for display. For example, time periods in the past may be closed and therefore cannot be updated. The same may be true for time periods beyond the active current accounting period.
Your view will resemble the following:
| Figure 4.
Select Period dialog box
3 Click OK or Cancel to close this dialog box and return to your Tasks page.
4 From Tasks:Display click the Layout button , and then select Gantt Chart as follows:
Selecting the Gantt Chart view
Notice the commands on the ribbon include Zoom In, Zoom Out, and Scroll to Task. Each of these is familiar to Microsoft Project users. Other team members, however, might need an explanation of the meaning of a Gantt Chart and the use of these tools.
5 From Tasks:Display click the Layout button and then select Timephased Data to return to your original (default) view.
Filters and Groups
The ribbon includes selections for filtering and grouping the tasks on display , as in the following figure:
Depending on the level of the reporting detail for the organization, some fields will be grayed out where data cannot be changed. You can enter the appropriate Actual Work values for the task as in the following figure:
Entering actual work
You may also change the Remaining Work value if appropriate. This is sometimes necessary because Project automatically recalculates the Remaining Work value after entering your actual hours. As a result, you may notice that the newly calculated value is too low (you estimate the task will take longer) or too high (the task will take less time to complete). For example, if the timesheet still shows there are remaining hours after entering your actual hours for an already completed task, you can manually change the remaining hours to “0.”
Remember to click Save after entering or changing information in this view.
| Figure 8.
Remaining work (“ETC”)
6 Click on a task name to see a detail page for the task. Here, a team member can enter additional task information and comments. Again, remember to click Save after entering or changing information on this page. The Tasks Detail page will resemble the following:
Tasks Detail page for Requirements Specification
Functions and information on the Tasks Detail page for a specific task include:
- General Details – View and update basic task information such as total work, percent complete, start, finish, and remaining work
- Recent Task Changes – View the history of task changes, updates, and approvals
- Attachments – View, add, or edit related information such as documents, issues, or risks
- Contact – Contact your project manager, others assigned to this task, or project team members
- Related Assignments – View related assignments with enterprise resources assigned. To view contact options, click on the resource name
- Notes – Free-form text area where you can add, enter, and view notes related to the task
Send Status function
7 Once you’ve updated task information on the Tasks Detail form, users can submit the update to the project manager. To do this, simply click Save and then Send.
To submit updated information, from the Tasks main page click the Send Status icon  under Tasks:Submit. Then, select either All Tasks or Selected Tasks.
Send Status dropdown
That’s enough for one post. For more on progress tracking in PWA, our next post covers the Timesheet Page and Task Time Approval.