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Task Updates–% or Work?

By: Collin Quiring

For those using or setting up PWA task updates the question often comes up as to whether or not the Team Members should be updating by percentage or by entering work. There are a couple of questions that come up in relation to this to help decide which to use.

The first question is:

Do you care about hours of work or do you just care about how long the job took?

As in, does it matter that a job took 10 hours to do? Does it matter for your organization’s needs (for projects or accounting or pay or billing) that you know how much time it actually took to do the work? Or, do you just care that a task took five days to complete? Whether the person(s) assigned to the task worked for 1 hour or 100 hours, do you still just want to know that it took a certain number of days to complete?

The answer to the first question will determine the accuracy of hours that you are trying to track.

If you just care about how many days a task takes to complete, rather than the exact hours, then you want to enter the percentage. And, more specifically, you want to enter the % Complete field. There is also a % Work Complete field that is available but that is in relation to hours and so that wouldn’t apply to your need. The % Complete field would be the easiest to use because it is based on Actual Duration divided by Duration. So, if a three day task is one-and-a-half days into the schedule, then it is 50% complete. And note, that is 50% complete whether one minute of actual work is done or not (although we would hope that folks are only updating tasks that have work completed against them.

If you care about hours, and you care about getting accurate hours, then you should have the % Work Complete and % Complete fields where they can’t be edited by Team Members. You should allow the system to calculate those fields for you. What you should have Team Members update is the Actual Work and Remaining Work fields. When the Actual Work field is updated, the Remaining Work field will be calculated. If the Remaining Work field doesn’t match the work that the Team Member thinks it should, then they should update it so as to allow for the dates to better align with the amount of work.

And, the second question is:

Do you care when the work is done?

If your organization has accounting, billing, pay or other reasons to know when work is occurring (whether you are tracking in duration or hours) then there is one other update the Team Member should do – enter the date.

If your organization cares about when work happens, BEFORE entering hours the Team Member should enter the Actual Start Date. Entering the Actual Start Date will set the timeframe properly. Then, the Team Member should enter the % Complete or the Actual Hours – depending on the method you are using. If the Team Member only enters the % Complete or Actual Hours then the Actual Start Date will be calculated for you. Which, in most cases, will be the date was assigned. And, that is where you can get Actual Dates that are nowhere near the real calendar date – because it uses the originally assigned date (whether that date is in the future or in the past).

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