Using the BrightWork In-Browser Task Scheduler
Every project needs a plan right? No matter what type of kind of project you are managing or what approach, building a task schedule is critical to your success.
SharePoint is the perfect task management application and BrightWork leverages this out of the box functionality to provide a robust task scheduler, all within your web browser.
Let’s take a look at how you can use the BrightWork in-browser task scheduler to plan your work within the SharePoint project site.
How does the Task Scheduler work?
The BrightWork Task Scheduler couldn’t be simpler to use and can be summed up in 3 steps.
- Add some tasks with durations.
- Set a start date for the first task.
- Set predecessors.
The beauty of using SharePoint for project management is that it has a familiar interface for anyone who has used Microsoft Excel datasheets. Quite often, before using BrightWork, many of our customers exclusively used Excel to manage their projects.
Within your SharePoint project site, navigate to your task list. Click New Task or Edit this List.
To build a successful task schedule it is crucial that you add durations (how long you think it will take to complete) for each task.
Set Start Dates
Your schedule will begin to take shape once you add the earliest start dates that can start the project. Simply set a date for each task in your list using the datasheet interface.
The final step to creating your project schedule is to set the predecessor tasks. This links your tasks together, indicating which task needs to be completed before the next begins.
For example, if your project is to plan a party, your first step might be choosing a time and date. This step is essential before you book a venue (i.e. the next task). This in turn must be completed before you invite your friends and so on.
BrightWork makes it easy to set predecessors with a dedicated column. Simply select the tasks from the drop-down menu (the drop-down is populated with the tasks you have already added).
This logical ordering of activities is known as Network Scheduling.
Calculating the Project Schedule
Now that we know:
- what tasks need to be completed
- how long they will take
- when they should start
We have all the information we need to calculate our schedule. Luckily, with BrightWork, this is as simple as clicking a button!
Under the Tasks ribbon, click on Calculate Schedule. Your task schedule is instantly created. You can visualize your schedule on the Active Items Gantt Chart by navigating to Task Update on the project quick launch.
Recalculating your Schedule
If only every project worked out exactly as we planned! In reality, we know this is not always the case. Tasks take longer than planned or issues arise that delay task completion.
On rare occasions, tasks are actually completed ahead of schedule!
BrightWork allows for these changes and makes it easy to recalculate the schedule. Simply adjust the duration or finish date of the delayed task.
Once you have amended any aspect of your schedule (tasks, duration, dates or predecessors) calculate the schedule as outlined above. Your project schedule is recalculated with the new information, returning new finish dates and timelines.
Once you calculate your schedule (and re-calculate it), all project data, including calculated finish dates, is reflected across your project site.
All timelines and Gantt charts at the project level and high-level portfolio reports will be updated automatically once project data is refreshed.
The BrightWork Project Structured template offers you all the scheduling functionality you need to get started straight away.
You can, of course, update and configure the schedule as your project management needs evolve.
Advanced Tips for Scheduling tasks
Use a single task list
It is best practice to use a single task list to promote metrics and perform metric refreshes. Multiple task lists within the same project site can produce unexpected results.
Combining Microsoft Project and BrightWork
Microsoft Project Professional is a powerful tool and can be easily used to calculate project schedules with BrightWork.
However, it is best not to use Project and the BrightWork task scheduler at the same time on the same list. This can lead to unexpected time variations.
Try to keep predecessor complexity low. This makes for a faster calculation and reduces the risk of circular references.
Do not use summary tasks as predecessors. This is a recognized best practice and will help you later when you are managing your schedule.