The task management functionality available in SharePoint 2013 has many new and improved features. Features such as the ability to create sub-tasks, a new timeline view, more robust management of tasks using Microsoft Project 2013 and so on. In this article I will take a deeper look in to these new and enhanced features of SharePoint 2013 Task Management.
For the purposes of this topic, I have created an “out-of-box” site using the Project Site template. No customizations have been made to the site, libraries or lists. The figure below is our demonstration site, using the standard Project Site template.
The figure below shows the standard Tasks list that is included with the Project Site template. The list itself is very similar to what we found in earlier versions of SharePoint. However, you will notice a timeline view is now available. More about the timeline view later.
An improvement in SharePoint 2013 task management is the ability to assign multiple resources to a task. In previous versions, you could only assign a single resource which made using the “out-of-box” task management cumbersome when managing more complex projects.
You now have the ability to create subtasks which is another new feature found in SharePoint 2013. I believe this was primarily implemented to support Microsoft Project integration. More on Microsoft Project integration below.
To create a subtask, click the parent item context menu and select the Create Subtask option.
The figure below shows our task list after adding 2 subtasks.
The timeline view provides you with the ability to display specified tasks in a timeline, or Gantt, style view. The timeline view can be enabled or disabled for any task list in SharePoint. This is accomplished by editing the web part properties and checking/unchecking the Show timeline option.
You can add and remove tasks from a timeline by clicking the task item context menu and selecting Add to Timeline or Remove from Timeline option.
In the figure below, you can see that I have added the Human Resources Intranet Requirements task to the timeline. You will find the timeline view is best suited to display high-level tasks and milestones. If you add too many tasks it will become cluttered and difficult to read.
Aggregating Tasks to Your Personal Site
One of the best new features available in SharePoint 2013 is the aggregation of tasks, assigned to you, in your personal site. This provides you with a view of all tasks, across the entire farm, aggregated in one place. This means, regardless of where a task resides (a department site, project site, team site, etc.) they will all be aggregated to your personal site.
To accomplish this in the past, we had to customize a solution using search web parts, create a custom developed solution or purchase a 3rd party tool.
Note: The personal site task aggregation feature utilizes the SharePoint FAST search engine to index task information and make it available for querying. This means, tasks will not be aggregated to your personal site until the search indexer has processed the tasks.
To see an aggregate view of all your assigned tasks, simply go to your personal site and click the Tasks link in the left vertical navigation area.
In the figure below, you can see the tasks assigned to myself.
You might have also noticed, when you click a task item context menu, you have the ability to edit the task and go directly to the containing site or list. The is very convenient for managing tasks that reside in many locations of your Intranet.
Managing Tasks with Microsoft Project
Microsoft has made the management of SharePoint tasks, in Microsoft Project very convenient. To open a task list in Microsoft Project, simply navigate to the task list and click the Open with Project option on the ribbon bar.
Now that your SharePoint task list is open in Microsoft Project, you can use all of the features available in Microsoft Project.
After you make updates, in Microsoft Project, and save them, all of those updates are posted to the SharePoint task list.
Note: You may be asking yourself, Microsoft Project has many more features and fields then a SharePoint task list; is this information lost when you close Microsoft Project? The answer is no! Microsoft Project and SharePoint are tightly integrated and the actual project file is also saved to the site; in the Site Assets library.
Extending Microsoft Project Fields to a Task List
There may be situations when you wish to publish additional information from Microsoft Project to your task list in SharePoint. This can be easily accomplished by mapping fields using the following steps.
For the purposes of our demonstration, I will map the Duration field from Microsoft Project to our task list in SharePoint.
- In Microsoft Project, click the File tab in the ribbon bar.
- In the Info section, click the Map Fields button.
- In the Map Fields dialog, click the Add Field button.
- In the Add Field dialog, for the Existing Project Field, select Duration from the drop-down list.
- For the New SharePoint Column, leave the default as Duration.
- Click the OK button when you have completed these steps.
- Click the OK button in the Map Fields dialog when you have mapped all the desired fields.
Now the Duration field in Microsoft Project is mapped to a new Duration field in the SharePoint task list. Save your project and the SharePoint task fields will be updated, containing the mapped field values.
As you can see in the figure below, the Duration field now contains the duration information from Microsoft Project.
Once you start editing and managing your project tasks in Microsoft Project, I have learned that it is easier to continue using Microsoft Project; instead of switching from editing tasks in SharePoint some of the time and in Microsoft Project other times.
As you can see there are many new and improved task management features found in SharePoint 2013. The ability to assign more than one resource to a task and the timeline view are of my personal favorites. In addition, I use the Microsoft Project integration on virtually all project management scenarios I am involved with.
It is important to note; all of the features described in this article are available in Office 365. I use Office 365 to run my business and manage all client projects and these task management features and Office integration I use on a daily basis.
If you are interested in discussing these features, obtaining a demonstration of how they may improve your task management needs in your environment, please Contact Me. If you have any questions or comments, please leave a comment below; I will answer as I have availability.