In my last article I introduced the concept of Project Server Workflow phases and stages and how this element of the solution can be used to identify where a project is in an established Project Lifecycle.
The Workflow Phases element provides the framework within which Workflow Stages can be ordered.
In the screen image above you can see how the Workflow Phases provide a framework to hold the Workflow Stages. I also continue the numeric notation within the Workflow Stages, the intent here is to again clearly identify the sequence or progression of the Workflow Stages from beginning to end.
One point worth noting here is that you can have more than one “lifecycle” represented within Workflow Stages – typically Workflow Phases will be the same regardless of the nature and scale of a project. Workflow Stages can be more nuanced so you could operate a lighter less rigorous lifecycle for low risk/cost short term projects compared to major projects that comprise significant scale, cost, time and risk.
Defining a Workflow Stage
Providing a name is an obvious requirement – the description however provides you with the opportunity to be quite specific as to what the Workflow Stage entails and its purpose in the project lifecycle. This text will be displayed on the Project Stage Status Project Detail page.
When a project has advanced to the next stage in the Workflow a different “Current Workflow Stage” message is displayed.
Description on submit
You can leave this section blank in which case when users submit their projects to workflow they will be presented with the standard text in a dialog box prompt.
This is where the numeric notation becomes useful, if you have included a numeric prefix for the stage it makes sense to select the similarly prefixed phase for the stage to reside within.
The Workflow Stage Status Project Detail Page option will typically display a single choice, the PDPs listed in this section are Type (3) PDPs – this is a bit complex and is only really relevant to Project Server Administrators.
The Visible Project Detail Pages section allows you to incrementally display more of the available PDPs as a project advances through a defined lifecycle. At the outset a new project may only contain one or two PDPs. As it advances through the Project Lifecycle more PDPs can be made available to capture relevant information at that point in the lifecycle. You can add or remove PDPs from the panes displayed.
It is good practise to maintain the same order in the list of PDPs throughout the Project Lifecycle (my OCD tendencies coming through again!). It can be irksome and distracting if the order of available PDPs jumps around from one stage of the lifecycle to another.
Additional Settings for the Visible PDP
At first glance this section in defining a stage may not be that obvious. The explanatory text tells most of the story but necessarily all of it.
The Workflow Stage Specific Description will display next to the name of the Project Detail Page on the Workflow Status page. It provides users with more contextual information about the Project Detail Page. This description is limited to 1024 characters.
The text you enter in the pane displayed is related to the selected PDP in the “Selected Project Detail Pages” pane above. If you have numerous PDPs listed each one of them can be invested with different descriptive text for each stage in the Project Lifecycle. Whilst in theory this is possible you are more likely to only employ this feature for “current” PDPs within the workflow. “Previous” PDPs that were invested with information will still be accessible but may well be simply holding information rather than being a device for capturing additional information relevant to the progress of the project through your defined project lifecycle.
If a page does not have anything defined at this point in the lifecycle then the text displayed next to the PDP in the Project Stage Status PDP will be the descriptive text defined for the PDP itself.
In the example above the Project Initiation Page shows descriptive text but as there is no descriptive text defined at this point in the Lifecycle. Looking at the “sections to be completed for this stage” grid that is visible in the Project Stage Status PDP the text displayed next to the PDP is the description of the PDP itself.
If you elect to provide text for the selected visible PDP it will be visible against the selected PDP in the “sections to be completed for this stage” grid that is visible in the Project Stage Status PDP.
In the examples above the 4.1 Project Delivery Workflow Stage is being edited and the Schedule PDP has been selected in the “selected PDPs” section – text has been entered for the selected PDP and this text is then visible in the Description column for the Schedule PDP in the “Sections to be completed for this stage” grid. Note that the order of selected PDPs displayed determines the order of the pages in the grid.
Once a project has advanced to the next stage in the Project Lifecycle the description text, unless you specify the same or new text for the visible PDP, will revert to showing the default description for the PDP taken from the PDP definition.
Project Detail Page Requires Attention
This small tick-box has self-explanatory text displayed as follows.
If the ‘Requires user attention’ check box is selected, the Project Detail Page is highlighted on the Workflow Status page. This helps distinguish the pages in a workflow stage that need action from the pages that have been added for information.
It can be a useful to identify pages where an input is required, however the next section can result in a lot more than just an indication to the user.
The next element in defining a Workflow Stage is “Required Custom Fields” – we will cover that and the remainder of Workflow Stage definition in my next article.
Click here to read my previous article Project Lifecycle Status Part 1