When most people think about SharePoint they think of document management. Unfortunately it’s often used just as a document repository and an online calendar. I thought those features were cool but I quickly gravitated towards the task management features of SharePoint. I will add a caveat that I actually attended training for “SharePoint for Project Managers”. It was a good training, but it didn’t really teach me anything I didn’t already know. What I did like is that it gave suggestions about scenarios you could use SharePoint in. In the spirit of the training, I thought I’d share my favorite project management tool : The Task List.
Out of the box – the task list is pretty cool. The default columns include the task, who it is assigned to, status, and priority (amongst other things). This works great out of the box – but here’s how I modified a task list to expand on its capabilities.
1 – Adding additional columns to match your work.
I created an additional column for the “Type of support”. In this case my project has people with very different skillsets. Therefore I wanted to be able to sort the tasks by the type of activity / support provided. I also added another column for the total number of hours to complete the task. By adding these two columns, I am now able to get totals of the numbers of hours required to complete types of tasks. I can also get the number of hours spent on work by the person they were assigned to.
2 – Creating Views
The out of the box views are great for the task list. I created user specific views. Therefore, if you came to our team site, you can view tasks only assigned to you. This makes it easy for team members to know what’s pending.
3 – Creating a user dashboard
To assist team members, I created a page which displayed 3 things for a team member: Recurrent tasks assigned to you, incomplete ad-hoc tasks assigned to you, and a third – completed tasks. I encourage my team to use this list because it doubles as a record for your achievements. This works great around annual review time!
4 – Using email alerts
I turned on the alerts feature for the task list. Team members get an email notifying them that a task was assigned. They also get email reminders when tasks are changed and when a task becomes overdue.
5 – Creating views for meetings
For weekly meetings, I use the task list as a status update tool. Finally – no need to put together status updates! I also don’t need to track what I’ve assigned because it’s all in the team site.
6 – Using due dates to help staff prioritize
Although it is more work up front, I carefully choose appropriate due dates for assigned tasks. This makes it easier for staff to look at their tasks and prioritize based on due dates.
These tips have made my SharePoint task list extremely useful.