I was hoping to get some insight from other organizations on how you're handling timesheets in PPM; what works and what doesn't. Basically I was hoping to get some best practices from the user community here.
Currently we are configured to track time at the lowest task level when a user is assigned as a resource, and we also allow tracking to logged issues where the user is assigned or is a resource. We do this for project workplan tasks and also have projects with workplans set up for production support tracking. Some of our current pain points are:
Users "can't see" all of their tasks. We've trained them that the easiest way to find tasks is to utilize either suggested items or the my tasks portlet. Some problems here: there are times a task doesn't show up under their suggested items, either because of a predecessor relationship, or for reasons unknown.
Tasks that show up in suggested items OR in my tasks may be on closed/cancelled projects where the workplan was never closed out/cancelled.
Sometimes the task is "gone" because the user has already entered the maximum number of allocated hours to it so the task completed and they never updated their percent complete to reflect that they needed more time on a task.
I realize that the majority of this is mainly a training issue, however we've been at this for over a year now and have trained multiple times, but the training doesn't seem to stick.
I would love to hear from others on how this is being handled in your environment - we're struggling here.
Mahendran, thank you for the suggestion on closing out the workplan. I will pass it on to out team.
I'm sorry, I'm not sure what you mean by request activity. (I'm not a developer or technical/admin) The time is booked to tasks created in the workplan associated with a project, which is a request type I believe.
We're doing the same as you. We did modify the suggested items rules to help find items that the default rules wouldn't get. This is one thing you can do. We're also working with our PMs to use more standardized task names and level of detail so that users aren't having to work for example a single task for one project but multiple tasks to do the same thing for another project.
I haven't had much luck with the My Tasks portlet when using TM to track actuals. It seems like it should be easy, but often users don't understand how it works and have a lot of trouble with it. I don't "advertise" it anymore.
For closed/cancelled projects, use Mahen's suggestion to close those out. You can create a special workflow step to re-open any that are closed projects and re-force the workplan to close. If you leave these open, they continue to calculate metrics & costing too so they could eventually have a negative impact on performance.
Re: already entered the maximum number of allocated hours, yep we have this issue as well and users understand putting hours in a text box but they somehow can't make the transition to thinking about the % complete as well. Even though they get a popup telling them that they are about to "complete" a task. Haven't found a good solution to this.
Thanks so much Erik. Can you elaborate a little on the suggested items rules?
I'm also curious about what you mean about the task names and level of detail. (I am a PM) For small projects, we usually just put major milestones (development, testing, etc.) in the workplan, but for larger ones, we may upload 100-150+ line project plans from MS Project. These usually turn out disasterous, and are definitely one of the bigger pain points for me, because % completes are always off. In addition to the closed task problem, we also run into situations where some tasks never even get touched by the resouces because of a predecessor relationship that causes users to not see it ever, so then the PM has to go in and manually fix tasks, % completes, remaining hours, etc.
(We are configured to upload from MS project one time only and then all edits are done in the workplan)
In our case, we wanted to forecast & allocate people to Asset staffing profiles for planning, but at the same time we wanted to allow anyone to book time to them regardless of if they were assigned. So I added a custom rule to add any Assets that the user is on the staffing profile of to his Suggested Items list. Also added a custom filter to enable looking up requests by name so people can quickly find a particular Asset to book time to. The config guide shows how to do both of these customizations.
The challenge is to find the "sweet spot" of defining tasks granular enough to be meaningful but not so granular that it becomes unmanageable for everyone involved, right? We're finding that if there are too many discrete tasks, users will just latch on to one of them and book all their time to it instead of spreading it across the "right" tasks. This is a PM issue, I think, and something that should be covered in a project team meeting.
Sometimes, there can be two projects running that both need some servers built. One PM might have a single task called "Build Servers" and another might have each one listed, like "Configure DEV Box", "Configure UAT Box","Configure PROD Box"...etc. Each has their own style, but the user that is actually doing all this work can get confused as to what he's looking for & booking to. PMs who like to have detail can put those tasks in there, but just assign the resources to a single higher-level task to make it easier to keep track of.
Predecessors can be a pain, I wish HP had the concept of a "soft" predecessor where it can actually start as the prior is finishing up but they do not.