Creating tasks: the general case

Tasks may not only be created within phases of a project. Should a smaller project not be divided into phases, tasks may be created also directly within the project. Tasks may also be used outside of projects and phases, i.e. you may create tasks in arbitrary folders.

You create tasks using the action  File    New    Task  in the top menu of the project, phase or folder where you want to create the task. The action form ‘Add Task’ has the sections

General,

Responsibles,

Data,

Notification and

Attributes

where numerous specifications can be made concerning the new task. For simple personal tasks entering a name in section ‘General’ will do, more complex tasks require further speci­fi­cations, of course. The new task is created by hitting [OK], all specifications may be changed before the task is started.

General: Setting name, duration and deadline

In this section you enter general information, duration and deadline.

      Enter the name of the task, a description, tags, category and priority. Name and de­scrip­tion should indicate what the task is about.

      The duration of a task is the expected time span between start of the task and its com­pletion. The duration is used to compute the prospective completion date when the task is actually started. This way it is possible to indicate a critical situation for the containing phase and project when the task is started late – assuming that the duration is at least required time to carry out the task. An earlier completion of the task is of course possible.

When the prospective completion date is passed without the task being finished its pro­gress is regarded as critical.

      As deadline you enter the date when the task should be finished according to the time-plan of phase or project.

When the deadline is passed without the task being finished its progress is re­gard­ed as overdue.

      All specifications apart from the task name are optional. If you don’t enter a duration and deadline, however, no automatic computation and aggregation of the progress of the containing phase and project is possible.

Responsibles: Selecting requestors and contractors

In this section, there are two respective subsections where you can specify the requestors and contractors of the task who are responsible for supervision and execution of the task.

      As contractors you select users who are to carry out the task. When starting a task with more than one contractor, all contractors remain responsible for the execution of the task; every one of them may work on the task and finish it.

You may postpone the selection of the contractors and assign the task later using the action action  Task    Assign  in the action menu of the task. Note that a task without con­tractors cannot be started.

You may also select users as contractors who are not members of the project, phase or folder in which you create the task. In this case, however, the contractors have only access to the task itself and its contents, but not to its context, i.e. the project, phase or folder containing the task.

      As requestors you select users that are to supervise the execution of the task. If you enter more than one user here, the user who starts the task becomes the only requestor.

Again you can postpone the selection of a requestor because all members that have ac­cess to the task (including yourself as creator) may assign contractors and start the task, thereby becoming requestor of the task automatically.

      Optionally you can determine that the new task is to be entered into the task lists of requestors and contractors directly after creation, i.e. before it is actually started. This way the users responsible for the task have immediate access to the task via their task list. Especially when you have selected users as requestor who are not members of the phase or project to which the task belongs, you should check this option. Otherwise these users have no access to the task and consequently cannot start the task.

Data: Specifying input and output data

In this section there are two subsections where you can specify the input and output data of the new task. The input data are provided by the requestor and serve the purpose of trans­mitt­ing the data required for the execution of the task (e.g. text fields or whole documents) to the contractors. The output data represent the result of the task and are to be supplied by the contractors before they can declare the task as done.

Input and output data consist of data fields which have a data type, e.g. text, check box or document.

Input and output data may also define dependencies within task structures, e.g. between sev­er­al tasks of a phase or project or between main task and subtasks. A task depends on another when it gets its input data from this other task or when it has the condition as input data that another tasks output is released. The dependent task may then only be started when the other task has been finished. In the presence of already existing peer tasks, i.e. tasks of the same phase or project where you are creating the new task, also the data of these tasks and con­ditions on these task being finished may be offered as input or output data. For more de­tails and examples see 12.1.9 Structuring tasks into workflows.

      In the subsection Input Data you enter the input data fields. Under New input data, select a data type and click [Add]. A line will appear containing fields for name and value of the data field. Enter the name and check whether the data field is to be mandatory or not, i.e. whether the task may not be started before the data field has a value. You may enter the value now or later (e.g. using the action action  Change    Input  or directly in the task view).

      Continue to enter further input data fields by clicking [Add] until you have entered all the data fields required. By clicking remove you may delete data fields already entered. Use the arrows up and down to change the order of the data fields in which they are to ap­pear in the task view. You may also reorder the data fields by dragging a data field by one of the arrows to appear above or below another data field.

      When peer tasks are present, you have two additional possibilities to define input data.

      Conditions for starting the task: Select one or more of the conditions offered. The output of a peer task is released when this peer task has been finished. By selecting such a condition as input data you make the start of the task to be created depend on the other task being finished.

      Data coming from main or peer tasks: Select one or more output data fields of peer tasks as input data. Such a data field is shared between peer and present task and its value is available for the present task when it has been re­leas­ed by the peer task. You make the start of the present task depend on the peer tasks being finish­ed.

You select an item in one of the lists by clicking on it. You deselect again by click­ing with the Ctrl key being pressed.

You find more details on shared data fields and conditions in 12.1.9.4 Creating subtasks.

      In the subsection Output Data you enter the output data fields. Under New output da­ta, pro­ceed exactly as described for the input data fields above. You may also enter values for these output data fields, e.g. as suggestions or notes for the contractors who are to supply these values in the end. With output documents you could provide, e.g., a template as value.

      When peer tasks are present, you have an additional possibility to define output data fields. Under Data needed by main or peer tasks you can select one or more input data fields of peer tasks as out put data. Such a data field is shared between peer and pres­ent task and its value is available for the peer task when it has been re­leas­ed by the pres­ent task. You make the start of the peer tasks depend on the present task being finished.

Again, you select by clicking and deselect by clicking with the Ctrl key pressed. More de­tails on shared data fields in 12.1.9.4 Creating subtasks.

      With data fields of type document, two additional buttons appear after the value: browse lets you browse your folder hierarchy and select a document as value for the data field, empty undoes the selection and deletes the value of the data field again. If you intend to fill the data field with a document that has still to be uploaded to BSCW, enter the value later.

If you enter a value for an input or output document of a task, a link to the document is added to the task and is shown in task view in section ‘Contents’. As soon as the task is started, input documents are put under version control, in order to have a record of who has done what with the task documents. The same goes for output documents; they are put under version control when the task is finished for the first time and the contractor thereby releases the output documents.

Notification: Notifying about task events

In this section you can specify how requestors and contractors are to be notified about their mutual actions and when you and other persons concerned are to be reminded of an ap­proach­ing deadline. Action notifications and reminders are sent by email.

      Under Email notification, unfold the actions about which the notifications are about. Here you may then check or uncheck certain actions or all of them. Of course, the requestor is notified about actions of the contractor and vice versa.

      Under Reminders you may let yourself, requestor, contractors or all members be re­minded of the approaching task deadline. Select the recipient of the reminder and click on [Add]. In the line that now appears you select how long in advance the reminder is to be sent. Using [Attach a personal note] you may add a personal note to the otherwise automatically generated reminder. By repeated clicking on [Add] you may have reminders sent at different point in time to the people concerned. By clicking  you can delete already generated reminders.

Attributes

In this section you may set certain task attributes (Customer, Contact, Location, URL) as well as define your own attributes. The task attributes are configured for your BSCW server and may be changed by your BSCW administrator.