Project management | Releases

R4.09.0: New functions for task controlling - and a few more things

The new PQFORCE Release 4.09.0 is just around the corner, and with it a number of new features for even better project management. This time, it's all about monitoring task progress and reassessing it. But the new release also comes up with a completely reworked Kanban Board. And the actually Java-based PQFORCE Server now also understands JavaScript. Release 4.09.0 will be rolled out on July 15, 2022. In this article we already give a preview of the new features.

What is the burn-down rate? And what about earned value?

To date, PQFORCE can record the progress of a task in percentages - either manually by entering a percentage or automatically, in which case the system takes the elapsed time since the start date of the task as a basis. We also refer to this progress as Earned Value. It determines how far the delivery object to be developed with the task has already been created. The backlog of a deliverable, i.e. 100% minus progress, is then used to calculate the outstanding work on the Task. This is based on the assumption that the planned value (i.e. the allocated effort) is sufficient for the resources to complete the entire delivery object. What is missing so far: The work actually performed and reported on the task (i.e. the burn-down rate) is not included in the calculation by the system.

This will now be different. PQFORCE 4.09 now makes it possible to take the recorded actual time into account. In the new task side panel "Progress", task controlling can be performed at any time. The following effort values are set in relation to each other:

  • Budget (typically specified by the client)
  • Rough planning (estimated internally, but without allocations to resources)
  • Allocation (effort allocated to resources, i.e. the sum of all allocations to individual resources)
  • Actual effort (part of which may be provisional effort, see below for more info)
  • Forecast for the whole task (effort done plus remaining effort)
New Task Sidepanel Progress: Dark green = reported effort, light green = provisional effort.

The remaining effort can be re-estimated at any time and recorded on the task. Derived from this, the progress is the ratio of actual to forecast. Conversely, the progress can also be recorded so that the remaining effort is derived from it. In this way, the person responsible for the task can record the work status at any time - either by entering the progress (earned value) or the remaining effort. The system also outputs the burn-down rate, both in relation to the budgeted effort and in relation to the allocation.

For more details on these new features, please refer to tutorials available from within PQFORCE in the Customer Center.

And what if our employees do not report their performance in a timely manner?

Good question. As we know, it is often the case that one or the other forgets to regularly report the work performed in the system. It is not uncommon for a large part of the workforce to be regularly admonished for this. In this case, an interface that imports the work from a third-party system is of no use - what has not been recorded is simply not available. But of course there are also organizations that do not record actual times in PQFORCE and do not have an interface. There, only the planned values (allocations) are deliberately managed in PQFORCE.

However, PQFORCE would not be PQFORCE if we did not have a good solution for this as well. As of R4.09.0, the system shows the so-called provisional effort. These are the activities that a resource would have to work through today according to the plan. If the resource has not reported any actual hours, then these are the planned hours from the beginning of the task until today. If the resource has already reported actual hours, but not in a timely manner, e.g. last a week ago on date x, then PQFORCE calculates from the start of the task to date x with these reported hours (= ACTUAL) and additionally takes the planned hours from date x to today (= PROVISIONAL). In this way, the work performed can be displayed in all relevant views as ACTUAL (i.e. effectively reported) or as ACTUAL+PROVISIONAL - to each his own. In this way, plausible statements about progress can be made even if the project team members do not report promptly or at all.

More details on these new representations can be found in the tutorials available from within PQFORCE in the Customer Center.

Revised Kanban Board: More modern, faster, more functional

The Kanban Board is a central tool in PQFORCE as a representation and drawing board for TODOs. For the PQFORCE Release 4.09.0 we have now completely revised it. Now it can handle very large amounts of TODOs (e.g. a thousand and more) without any problems. Such quantities of TODOs can occur in individual projects or departments. And especially there, you want to get to the details quickly by filtering or "sifting" through the whole amount. With the Smart Rendering technology already used in various grid views, this is now all easily possible. This rendering only draws on the screen what is actually visible at the moment. When scrolling up and down, the new Kanban Board simply fades in the previously invisible TODOs without them already having been rendered in their entirety. This makes it fast and leads to a super user experience. In addition, the styling of the Kanban Board has also been adapted to current trends - the tiles contain some detailed information about the TODO and leave a more structured impression, and the entire board looks a bit fresher and lighter.

New Kanban board with secondary board (here: selection of a project as reference object)

But what is most important is the following functional enhancement. It is now possible to select the related objects in a TODO tile, so that all TODOs of this related object are displayed in a secondary Kanban board. Huh? Here is an example: If a TODOs has an assigned resource, this resource is visible and selectable on the tile, so that in the secondary Kanban Board the TODOs of this resource appear. This way, with a few clicks, the interrelationships of TODOs can be visualized via common reference objects, which further accelerates the work with TODOs.

Here's another tip: By dragging and dropping a TODO onto the plus icon (which is used to create new TODOs), a TODO can also be easily duplicated. This can be helpful for giving the same task to different people at the same time. Try it out.

Copy tasks, scenarios, or now even entire projects

Copy projects in the portfolio tree via drag & drop

Until now, individual tasks or task groups in the Gantt chart could be conveniently copied in PQFORCE within a scenario or across scenarios or projects using drag & drop. Even entire planning scenarios could be copied within the project or from one project to another. As of R4.09.0, entire projects with all their details can now also be copied. This is also possible via drag & drop within the Portfolio Tree view, where projects could already be moved between portfolios or linked into other portfolios. Now there is also the option to duplicate the whole project.

JavaScript in the Java server - for custom logic

The PQFORCE server now also understands JavaScript, a programming language that appears to be related to Java in name, but actually is not. However, the flexibility of JavaScript makes it possible to store specific application logic configurably in the server, so that customer- or client-specific application logic can be implemented with it. How does this work? Here is a simple example: When saving a project, the total budget allocated to the project as well as the end date from the Gantt plan should be written to a "Project budget" or "Project end" field. For this purpose, a piece of JavaScript code is stored in the server, which retrieves the relevant data via an internal call of the PQFORCE API and also writes it to the mentioned fields via the API. The execution of the code is triggered by the trigger "Update" on the project.

The power of our approach lies in the use of the PQFORCE API. Effectively, the entire REST API is also available server-internally and can thus be consumed by the configured JavaScript code. This allows for the implementation of an almost unlimited variety of custom use case requirements. Contact us via support if you want to know more.


About the author

Managing Director INTRASOFT AG

Dr. Daniel Hösli is Managing Director and Lead Consultant at INTRASOFT AG, whose SaaS solution PQFORCE is the leading platform for agile, project-oriented business management. He has been involved in the development of project management systems on a daily basis for 15 years in a consulting and project management capacity - both organizationally and technically - and thus has the experience from countless contacts and tasks from a wide variety of companies and different management levels.

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