Managing Your Business Processes

ProjectQuest Enhancements Planned for v4.0.0.9

Wednesday, May 09, 2012 6:38:57 AM

GQI’s project management application gets anticipated updates

Users of our project management app ProjectQuest will be delighted to see the enhancements that are coming in the next releases.

Email Notifications

One of the main features that needed improvement was the notification system. It gets completely redesigned in the new version:

  • Task Assignees get email when they are assigned to a new Task. Similarly, Project Owners and Project Admins get a notification when they are assigned to a Project. They will also get notified when they are removed from the assignees and they are no longer responsible for the Task or Project
  • Task Assignees get a summary email with a link to all of their Overdue Tasks (if they have such). The frequency of this email can be set to daily; weekly on a given day; or it can be disabled.
  • Project Owners and Admins get a summary email if there are Overdue tasks in any of their Projects. A link will take them to a list of Overdue Tasks, grouped by Project
  • For important Tasks, certain users can be subscribed to receive notifications each time a Task is edited, so they can stay informed as the work progresses. Task Assignees will also receive these emails. This is similar to SharePoint’s AlertMe notifications, but with the added convenience of the Project Category set-up. Unlike the standard AlertMe, these emails will not be sent when doing project re-organization and scheduling.
  • Phase Responsible will receive a one-time email when all Tasks in that Phase have been completed. This is also helpful if a Project Owner needs to keep track of the progress of her Project

When setting up a Project or doing some reorganization or scheduling, you may want to disable sending email notifications until you are done. We have put a setting for this in the Project properties – “Temporarily disable email notifications” for this Project. However, this does not apply to the weekly digests – so when a person has overdue Tasks, they will still be made aware of it.

Brand New Task Manager

Perhaps the most welcomed feature among Project Owners will be the new task management grid. We have replaced the old list of tasks with a new grid, powered by the world-class components of Telerik.

The new Task Manager will allow in-place edits of Task fields, similar to working with Excel or MS Project. Users will no longer have to open each task in a different page in order to modify the schedule. They can edit the task fields simply by clicking into the grid.

Sorting and filtering the grid by given criteria is also possible, as well as drag-and-drop to reorder tasks and phases.

Project Plan and Project Category

Adding new features over the time has made the Project and Task forms long and hard to navigate. We have addressed this issue by grouping all fields into different sections, and displaying only those fields which the user needs to work with. For example, Task Assignees can now only update the Task with their work in progress, but cannot re-schedule it.

This is also part of our revised security model, which aims to prevent user mistakes.

Revised Security Model

  • Task Assignees can update tasks assigned to them, but only a limited set of fields is available. A Task Responsible cannot delete a Task assigned to them. The full set of fields, including Auto-Scheduling, is available to the Project Owner and Admins.
  • Task Assignees can create sub-tasks. In this way, they can get other people to assist them with their work.
  • Person who assigned the task (Task Owner) gets full control over the task
  • Project Owners and Admins can create Tasks in their own Project, but not in other Projects. They get full control over the Tasks in their Project, and they also have full control over the Project itself.

Project Settings

Part of the newly designed forms is a section titled “Project Settings”. It will provide settable options per project, as opposed to Site Settings which apply to all projects.

These new fields will also be available in the Project Category, so they can be templated for each type of project.

  • Approval availability for Tasks: Required, Optional or Disabled. If Approval is required, the task cannot be closed without completing the approval. If Approval is disabled, the “Request Approval” button is not displayed
  • Auto-schedule tasks (default for new tasks)
  • Auto-adjust duration (default for new tasks)
  • Temporarily disable notifications – when doing project scheduling and organization, you may turn this on to prevent unwanted email
  • Auto-calculate % Completed for Project – before the update, this was settable only in Site Settings, which affected all projects. Now it can be set independently in each Project

The settings for Approval and the Email Notification Matrix will be dropped from the Site Settings page, as they are now considered deprecated.

Pre-Closure Approval for Tasks and Phases

We have redesigned the Approval system in ProjectQuest to match PRRQuest’s Pre-Closure approvals.

Pre-Closure Approval can be used when the task responsible is working on a Task, if she wants the approver to review her current work in progress and give a ‘green light’ to continue. Approval can be requested multiple times while the Task is still open, and also as a final approval when all work has been completed. Unlike ‘Closure Approval’ though, the system does not automatically close the Task when the workflow is completed. The Task or Phase needs to be closed manually by the Task Responsible; the person who assigned it; or by the Project Owner.

Approval for Project Tasks can be required, optional or disabled. If it is set to ‘required’, it means that final approval must be done when the work is completed, before the Task can be closed.

The same holds true for Phases (or gates), which are now very similar to Tasks. We have deprecated the ‘Phase Review’ feature in favor of the new Approval System. When all Tasks in a Phase have been completed, an email notification is sent to the Phase Responsible. They can then ‘request approval’ for the Phase, which is in fact doing a Phase Review.

Quick Approval

We have planned to implement a Quick Approval page for Project Tasks, similar to the feature in DocuQuest. It enables approvers to quickly review and complete all of their pending approval requests, without having to navigate to each Project and Task separately.

The Quick Approval page shows a list of Tasks that are pending approval from the current user. The Task list is grouped by Project. The approver can select multiple tasks with checkboxes and click ‘Approve’ or ‘Reject’.

A link to the Quick Approval page will also be sent in the Approval emails.

Download DocuQuest documents in Edit mode

Currently, the picker in the Task Edit page can be used only to select documents, but not to view them.

In the document picker there will be a new button to download the documents. It will open a popup window with links to documents selected in the picker – ‘Download Document’ and ‘View Properties’.

This will allow Task Assignees to download a document template from DocuQuest, fill it in with the required information and then attach it back to the Task – all without leaving the Task Edit page.

Minor enhancements and bug fixes

Here are the rest of the enhancements and bug fixes that are planned for development:

  • ‘Interim Save’ button for Tasks. Clicking ‘Interim Save’ on a Task will save the task without sending emails to people in ‘Assigned to’ and ‘Send email to’
  • ‘Overdue’ column in Tasks list. The SharePoint list of Tasks can be filtered to show only tasks which are ‘Overdue’ or ‘Coming Due’. It will also show as a visual cue – yellow icon for Coming Due and red icon for Overdue tasks.
  • ‘Task Description’ and ‘Notes’ to be rich text fields in the Task page. This will allow formatting of text and hyperlinks, and also inserting images inline in the Task. For example, you can put links to documents which reside on a local server.
  • Auto-populate the following fields when the task is completed: % Completed, Status, Date Completed. Sometimes users may forget to set all three fields when they complete a Task. If one of the fields is set, the system will populate the other two automatically.
  • Project Team to be included in the Excel export. The Excel workbook contains different sheets for Project Properties, Project Team, and Tasks list.
  • Project category column to be filterable in Projects View. Currently, the Projects list cannot be filtered by Category
  • Project Tasks button in Project Plan – opens the SharePoint list of Tasks filtered for the current project
  • ‘All Tasks’ button in left navigation menu
  • Bug: Some pickers were not working due to incompatibility introduced by the new version of SharePoint 2007 – Service Pack 3.
  • Bug: Gantt Chart dates should not be required. If no dates are selected by the user, the Gantt Chart will show the Start and End dates of the selected Tasks / Project
  • Bug: Emails for Project Team assignment were sometimes being sent even if the option was unchecked

Future Development

We are actively researching how to improve our product and to make it easier for our clients to integrate it into their existing workflows. That is why we will be working to implement compatibility with Microsoft Project (*.mpp) files. ProjectQuest users will have the ability to export their projects to MS Project and take them offline to collaborate with people outside of ISOQuest. They will also be able to import their existing MS Project files and have a quick start in their ProjectQuest setup.