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Managing tasks in SharePoint

Almost any project we work on is collaborative these days.  A restaurateur might be working with his staff and publicists to develop and advertise a new menu.  A wedding planner might be working with florists and venue coordinators to make someone’s dream wedding come true.  You need a way to coordinate to-dos, easily communicate status, and stay in sync with your team without leaving your favorite tools.

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In the next version of SharePoint, you can add task management capabilities to enhance any team site so you can get organized, plan and track tasks, and communicate deadlines, all in the same place you store documents and notes.  The best way to do this is by clicking on the “Working on a deadline?” tile on the main page of your new site.

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This will give you a few tools to help you do work: 

  • A tasks list for capturing actions, to-dos, and deadlines
  • A calendar to track important meetings and events, and
  • A project summary on your homepage to keep the team in the loop

Quickly capturing work and deadlines with the Task List

Quickly creating task in the next version of SharePoint is as easy jotting down a quick list of to dos on a note pad. From the new Task List, click “edit this list” to load the list in an Excel-like grid. This view lets you quickly capture a bunch of tasks, and if you want, the due date and people it’s assigned to. You can even copy and paste directly into the Task List from Excel.

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This mode gives you the flexibility to organize your list however you see fit. If you want to break down a bigger work item into smaller tasks, you can create hierarchy by using indent/outdent from the Tasks ribbon, just like you would in Microsoft Word or Outlook. If changes happen, you can reorder tasks using drag and drop or the move up and move down buttons from the ribbon.

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Forgot to add task that needs to be done between two others?  Just click Insert and add it directly in the middle.

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As you plan progresses, you’ll notice late tasks that aren’t complete are highlighted in red. You can quickly mark tasks as complete by clicking the checkbox.

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Lastly, at the top of the page, you’ll find an interactive timeline to give you a visual representation of the most important tasks and milestones.  This gives everyone involved a high level overview of the project schedule. Any task with dates can be added to the timeline by clicking on “add to timeline” from the ribbon or the task callout.

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With the task list, it’s easy to get organized around work your team needs to complete and see how you’re doing.

Communicating project status at a glance

The Tasks list is great for the person driving the project but everyone else that visits the site (team members, stakeholders) need an at-a-glance view of the project status. For this, we have the Project Summary on the home page of the site which makes it easy to communicate both the high level plan and the details of upcoming tasks and events. 

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The Project Summary contains a countdown of the number of days till the next major milestone on the timeline is due and two views you can rotate between. The first view is the task list timeline, which gives casual stakeholders a high level overview of where things are heading. 

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The second is a list of upcoming task deadlines and calendar events, which gives folks who need specific details a good picture of next steps. 

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So anyone who goes to the site will have a good high level picture of how things are going and what people should be working on. 

Access anywhere

If you’re anything like us, you need to stay productive while you’re on the go. With the next version of SharePoint on your preferred mobile device, you can stay up to date wherever you may be. Swipe through your timeline to see where the plan is headed.

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You can also make updates to your task list by navigating through the hierarchy, quickly marking tasks complete, or editing other task fields in the form.

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Growing with your needs

The Tasks list is a great place to get organized around the team’s work, but sometimes the scope of a project will grow into something larger that needs a greater level of control, structure, and reporting.  In these cases, you can open a task list in Microsoft Project 2013.  Click the “Open in Project” button in the ribbon to get great reporting features and an even higher level of organization to track your project schedule and deadlines, and saving in Project will synchronize changes directly back into the list for everyone to share. This will be covered in more detail in an upcoming post.