Using Visio for process simulation and optimisation
My previous blog post about Visio focused on integration with SharePoint, but now I'm going…
Earlier in what is rapidly becoming ‘SharePoint September’ I discussed some of the new task management capabilities in SharePoint 2013. That awfully nice chap Alan Lepofsky then asked whether SharePoint 2013′s task management was focused on individual users rather that teams. Admittedly, my post did focus on the individual user’s perspective of tasks, but many of those tasks emanate from team sites and task lists used by teams working on projects. With that in mind, treat this as a ‘part 2′ and I’ll discuss the team aspects further.
As I’m doing a lot of SharePoint 2013 (and Office, Lync and Exchange 2013) briefings at the moment, I set up some SharePoint sites to explore the capabilities and to demo. The screenshots in this post come from one of those sites (click on the images to see a larger one) – the site is based on a fictional scenario of a team working on a product launch. It has a discussion area, a document library, a media library (a great new feature which we’ll cover another time), a wiki and, what we’re talking about, a task list.
As mentioned and depicted in the previous post, the task list comes with a timeline. By default said timeline matches one of the accent colours of the theme selected for the site, but you can then individually select background colours and text colours (and the font) for items on the timeline. So it could look like this…
The flexibility with colours is nice, as you could use it to colourise tasks belonging to certain people or sub-teams, or different strands of a project. Note that you can also colourise the milestone markers.
This timeline takes its information from a task list (see below) – the standard view shows the description, the due date and who it’s assigned to. You can sort it, you can filter down to late tasks, you can display just your own tasks, you can see upcoming and completed tasks. You can also display them on a calendar or in a Gantt chart.
There’s a lot more to a task than the basic details displayed here (for example, % completion, priority, status and predecessors) and any of those extra details can be added to a view. You can add subtasks – the internal briefing shown above requires someone (me, actually) to create an agenda for the meeting. For extra visibility of your tasks you can add alerts, and if you really want to exercise some control over the team’s tasks (e.g. you as the project manager sign off a task when you’re satisfied that one of your minions has completed it) you can add workflow. This being SharePoint, everything is customisable and extendible, including adding new task views and adding / amending choices in the task form. If you have Lync or OCS, presence-awareness and unified comms is integrated (as seen against the names of the team members).
Please note that this post refers to a preview edition of SharePoint 2013 – features and functionality may change before the product ships.