In this article we'll learn a few different ways to keep track of project progress and task updates. It's crucial to stay on top of progress made in order to hit goals and meet important deadlines, but that will be a trivial matter after you've read through this article. 💪
Let's start by taking a look at a couple of tools available from the top menu bar.
Track anything across projects
When you want to see data from multiple projects in one view, then the Overview page is the ideal place to start. It's one of the most versatile tools, which allows you to create cross-project views based on any type of entity in your ftrack workspace.
It can be as simple as a task view showing tasks only across projects, but also as powerful as a view based on a custom object such as equipment, for example (if that's something you're tracking on a project). Put simply, cross-project views can be used to explore data from multiple projects at one time with the filters and columns that you need.
Get the insights you need with reports
If you're more interested in numbers and summaries, then there are several pre-built reports in the Reports section that will help you out. The Projects and Workload reports provides aggregated views of data across all projects and team members in your workspace.
The reports related to time tracking are useful when you're following up on project efficiency or need to pass information on to the financial department.
Selected reports allow you to export data for use in an external application.
Now let's dive into the project-level tools. We'll start with the Tasks spreadsheet.
Use the Tasks spreadsheet for tracking and reporting
As you probably already know by now, the Tasks spreadsheet is where you create and organize tasks into a structure. It does however serve many other purposes as well including progress monitoring and reporting. Some powerful features that deserves to be mentioned at this point are:
- "At a glance" summaries and percentages of where everything stands. You'll find them in the top of the spreadsheet, and you choose what to display in each header from the header menus.
- Similar functionality as above is also available on each hierarchy level of the spreadsheet. Depending on column type, it may be in the form of a stacked bar chart to show total progress (see screenshot above), or as simple as a sum of the numbers below that level.
- Exporting. It may not be clear at first, but the extensive filter capabilities in combination with the flexibility of the columns, makes it the perfect tool for building the report that you need. Or sometimes you're just looking to use data from an ftrack workspace in a different application. Then the export functionality comes in handy.
Add a filter for any built-in or custom attribute in the filter panel on the right hand side, group if needed in the toolbar, make sure relevant columns are added, and then hit Export to download the data in PDF, CSV or Excel format.
- "Task column" functionality. The steps of your workflow can be visualized horizontally as columns as an option to the default vertical tree layout. This lets you see task status, for example, on the same spreadsheet row as the parent object without the need to expand it.
The benefits of this feature may depend on your industry but it has proven to be popular in pipeline environments to get a quick overview of your project deliverables and the status they're in.
Tip: Use views to quickly switch between spreadsheet configurations that you find useful.
The Tasks spreadsheet is also a great place to compare bid estimates to actual numbers. Of course this requires your creative team to carefully track their time, but in return you'll get a clear picture of where you're at by comparing those figures to the actual worked hours in real-time. Simple cell formatting, optionally in combination with the summing features in the spreadsheet, will instantly highlight any emergence of overwork. The built-in +/- column does the calculation for you.
Tip: On the +/- column, change to "Negative Alert" under Cell formatting in the column header menu to automatically change the cell background color to red on negative differences.
Due to the tree-structured nature of ftrack, every task (or other object) has its own distinct parent. This can make it difficult at times to display specific tasks for example that naturally aren't related in the same context. Luckily there is a solution to help in such scenarios. Use lists to create views of tasks and other objects that not necessarily sits close to each other.
Last but not least, we'll round up this article with some useful features based on dashboards.
Display what's important to you in one place
Custom Dashboards give you the ability to add and arrange a number of widgets on a blank canvas with a single goal to create a page that entirely displays the information you need. From a library of widgets, you can pick and choose the ones that fits the purpose of the dashboard you're creating. Some offer additional configuration options (available from the title bar in edit mode), while some simply present data in a chart-style format.
Tip: Use the project outliner, located to the left when inside a project, to narrow down to a specific part of a project. Let's say you only want to see tasks belonging to a specific folder, then just select that folder to the left. This action is comparable with adding a filter to the view to the right of the outliner that excludes data from other objects on the same level and above.
A special dashboard available on all projects is the Task board. It's a project manager version of the My Tasks dashboard which creatives lands on when they sign in. Instead of showing a single team member's tasks only, all tasks for all users are displayed.