Create and Re-Use Project Templates

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Audience

Project managers and project creators

Description

If your project team has projects that follow similar steps or processes, this training is for you! Project managers and project schedulers will learn how to create projects from established templates. We cover the elements that you may add to your template that will carry over with each new project.

Benefits

  • Leverage the power of project templates
  • Set up a common methodology for teams to follow
  • Understand the elements that may be added to the template
  • Create a new project from a template
  • Learn best practices of setting up a template

Key Points


Transcript

Project templates can be used to standardize processes, create more accurate budgets and schedules and reduce the amount of effort and time required to create a project.

Folder for Project Templates

If you’re going to use project templates, it is a best practice to create a folder where you will store all your templates.

You can put project templates in any folder that allows projects, however creating them all in one central place makes it easier to manage them and to apply additional security settings if necessary.

You can see in the Folders list, there is a folder already setup for your templates.

Click on it.

You will see a list of any templates that have already been created.

Permissions to Use a Template

There are various permission settings that affect the use of templates.

Roles

The first of these are the roles assigned to a user.

To see these, click on the Administration section to expand it.

Click on Users to see a list of users.

Click on the Edit icon to edit a user and see their settings.

Click on System Roles.

Only users with the Project Template Manager role checked have the ability to create templates.

Only users with the Project Creator role checked can create a new project from a template.

However, project managers or project schedulers assigned to that project can pull in tasks from a template after a project has been created.

So you must have appropriate roles assigned to be able to use templates.

Permissions

Secondly, you must also have to have the ability to see a template before you can use it.

Click on the Templates folder again.

When you’re creating a new project or you’re pulling in tasks from a template, you can only see templates that you have read access to.

Permissions for templates are usually set at the folder level although they can be set on each individual template if you require.

To set the permissions at the folder level, click on the Edit icon for the folder.

Click on the Permissions tab.

You must have at least read access permissions on the templates in order to use them.

Settings Permissions is covered in detail in Baseline, Auto-Reschedule and Advanced Scheduling training session. You can view that video in our archive or attend the next live training session for that if you need more information.

Click the back icon, to return to the folders list.

Template Sub-Folders

If you had a large number of templates or you want different staff to have access to certain templates, you can create sub-folders to organize the templates further. You can also restrict permissions on those sub- folders.

To do that, hover on the add icon and select Folder.

Type in the sub-folder name such as Engineering Templates.

And you set permissions on those folders as necessary.

Click the Permissions tab to do that.

Remember, you have to have at least read access on templates in order to use them.

Click Save to save that new sub-folder.

Now you can see it listed and you can put project templates in there instead of in the main Templates folder.

You could add as many sub-folders as you required.

For example, you may set up sub-folders for each of your departments. You would give users in that department access to this sub-folder, so they’ll see only the templates for their department and not the templates for any other department.

Hide the left navigation by clicking the X icon. This gives you more screen real estate to work with.

You can see there are already some project templates created in this folder.

Now you’ll see how to create those templates.

Designate a Project as a Template

A template is created basically in the same way as you create a project.

Hover on the Add icon, and select Project.

Enter the template name, such as Website Development Template.

You can enter details in all the other fields on the Project Add/Edit form. This is covered in detail in Project Insight’s Baseline, Auto-Reschedule and Advance Scheduling training. For now, leave all the remaining fields as the defaults and scroll down to the State.

You can see that one of the States that is available to be selected is Template.

Click on Template.

This is how you designate a project as a template and not an actual project that is going to be executed.

Click Save.

The new project template is now listed.

To see the details of a project template, click on the project template name.

The project task list displays. You can see it’s blank because it’s a brand new template that we created.

You can start to enter in the details for this template with the inline editing.

Just click in the name and start typing the first task details, such as Determine Requirements.

Specify the duration as 10 days.

Leave the work hours set as the default, which is 80 hours.

Click Save.

Dynamic Dates

A best practice that is recommended for project templates is to use dynamic dates on your tasks.

A dynamic date is a date that is not hard coded into the project plan but is instead dependent on the project start date or a predecessor task and its duration.

For example, for this task you just entered, you didn’t enter a start or end date for the task.

You just entered the duration and Project Insight automatically determined that the Start Date of the task would be the same as the project start date because there are no predecessor tasks.

Then the end date was determined based on the duration, i.e. 10 days after the start date.

Add in another task, such as Approve Requirements and enter in a duration of 1 day.

This time, click on Add Predecessor because you’re going to add a predecessor task and create a dependency.

Click in the task drop down, and select Determine Requirements.

Leave the lead and lag blank and leave the finish to start relationship.

Click Save.

You’ve now set up a dependency and you see that this new task is scheduled to start automatically after the previous task.

This is one way to setup a dependency but there is another quick way to add dependent tasks.

To do that, right click on the current task and select Insert Task Successor.

A new task is created with a dependency to the previous task automatically setup with a finish to start relationship.

Just type in the other task details.

Enter the task name such as Create Specifications.

Enter a duration of 5 days.

Hit Enter to save the information.

If you’re entering a number of dependant tasks, using the Insert Successor functionality to do that quickly.

That is how you want to set up your tasks on templates. Don’t enter or hard code in the start date or end date of a task.

Just enter the duration and setup task dependencies so Project Insight dynamically determines the start and end dates.

If you did enter in a specific start date or end date on a task, that date becomes fixed or hard coded and then you would most likely have to manually adjust each of those hard coded dates on any projects that you create from this template.

It is best to set them up as dynamic dates in the template and then when you create an actual project from the template, if you need to hard code any dates, do it for that specific project instead.

Associate Tasks with Skill Sets

Another best practice that is recommended for your templates is to enter the resource type/role or skill set that is required on the task.

This helps you later on, when you’re assigning resources to work on tasks on your projects.

Project Insight can automatically suggest resources you should assign to a task based on the role and you can also mass assign resources to tasks based on roles.

The easiest way to assign a resource type/role, is to have that field showing on your task list.

Click Display Options.

Click on Column Selection Options to expand that section out, if it is not already expanded.

Click on the first column in the Available Columns, and type an R to go directly to those columns beginning with R.

Double click on Resource Type/Role to move it to the Selected Columns.

Click on it and click the up arrow to position it after the End Date.

Click the Update Display icon.

You can see the Resource Type/Role column is now showing.

Double click on the Resource Type/Role for a task to edit it.

Select the role from the drop down.

Click enter or click the save button.

That role has now been associated with that task.

You want to do that for every non-summary task that you create on the project template.

For example, double click resource type/role for another task.

Select the role required for this next task from the drop down.

Hit enter to save those changes.

You’ll want to finish setting up all the tasks that you have in this template.

Add a Document and Collaboration Structure

Now tasks or the work breakdown structure isn’t the only data that you can set up on a template. You can also set up a document structure in the template, which then automatically gets generated for every project created from that template.

To do that, hover on the Views menu option and select Documents.

Each template has this Documents folder that gets automatically setup as soon as you clicked the Documents icon.

You can setup a further sub-folder structure to follow your standard methodology.

For example, maybe for this type of project template, you will always have graphics files.

To set that up, hover on the Add icon and select folder.

Enter the name Graphics.

Click Save.

You can now see that folder has been created in the Documents section.

Add in another folder, for example, for specifications documents.

This time instead of using the Add icon, you can right click on the white space at the top of form and select Add and Folder.

Right clicking to bring up context sensitive menu options, is another way to add folders easily.

Enter the name Specifications.

Click Save.

Now you have a pre-defined document structure that will be automatically setup for each new project you add based on this template.

You can also add in items such as a project charter document template, an Excel spreadsheet or anything that your project requires on a regular basis.

Hover on the Add icon and select file.

The File – Add form appears.

Click Browse

You can see you can attach any type of file..

If you wanted project charter document template attached to each project, select that document.

Click Open.

Click Save.

You can see that file listed and it will be automatically copied to each new project you created.

Your project managers can be trained to just go to the project documents folder to access a project charter template and then they can just fill it out, saving them valuable time trying to locate the file each time and ensuring the correct process is followed.

Set up Auto-Alerts by Role

Another benefit of using templates is being able to setup pre-defined Auto Alerts based on specific events.

For example, you setup milestone tasks in your template. You want the project manager to be notified when that milestone tasks are completed so they can create status reports, do billing etc.

You can setup those auto-alerts in your templates so project managers don’t have to do it individually each time for each project which saves them time. It ensures standardization of your processes will be followed for each projects and ensures nothing gets missed.

In this template, you want to notify always notify the project managers when the requirements approval is completed.

To set up auto-alert, click on the Views menu option to see the task list displayed again.

Click on the task name that you want to setup an auto-alert for.

In this case click on requirements approval.

Hover on the Tools icon and select Auto-Alerts.

In the Entity type, you have various options, but for this scenario, select role.

Click in the Notify drop down.

You have various role options available, including project sponsors and projects resources.

Select Project Manager because that’s who you want to notify.

Click in the After Event drop down. Again, you can see all the different events that you can set auto-alerts for.

Select Item Completed.

Click Save.

This sets up an auto-alert so that when this task is marked as completed, a notification will be sent to the project manager.

This auto-alert is set automatically for this task for every project created from the template.

Again, it ensures standardization of your processes and saves the project manager from having to set it each time .

Updating templates with auto-alerts and other details is a great way to capture and implement lessons learned. For example, if on the last project an important milestone was missed, set an auto-alert on the templates to prevent it from being missed again.

Create a Project from a Template

That’s creating a template.

Now you will see how to use a project template that’s been setup,

Click on the show left navigation icon.

Click on the Projects folder.

This is where you will add in a new project.

Hover on the Add icon.

You’ll see there’s the Project icon. This is available, because your system role was set to project creator.

Select Project.

Click on the hide left navigation icon to give yourself more room.

Enter in your project name such as “Create new company website.”

Click in the Copy from Template drop down.

You’ll see all the project templates in the system that you have read access to.

You’ll see the new template that you created.

Click on it to select it.

You have some other options such as what type of information you want to copy from the template.

You can also change any of the other detail such as the description or sponsor or type that may have been copied from the template.

One important field that you will most likely want to change is the Scheduled Start Date.

The Scheduled Project Start Date that was entered on the template will most likely not be applicable to this new project, so you want to update it when you create the project.

Click on the calendar and enter a week from now or whenever your project will begin.

Now hover on Save and click Save and Display Project.

You’ll see that the tasks that you set up in the template are copied over.

But you’ll see that the Start and End Dates of the tasks have automatically shifted.

They are now based on the new project Scheduled Start Date.

That’s again, because we are leveraging the intelligent scheduling that allows the dates to shift dynamically. The dates in the template are not hard coded dates.

If you click on the Approve Requirements task, the task details form appears.

Click on the Details section to expand that out.

You’ll see the Resource Type role set for that task was automatically brought over.

You can see the Resource Type on your Task List View, but this is also another way to see that detail.

Click on the Details section to collapse that again.

Hover on the tools icon and select Auto-Alerts.

You’ll see that auto-alert was automatically brought over and set up for this new project as well.

Click the Back button twice to get back to your task list view.

Hover on Views and select Documents.

You’ll see the documents folder structure is automatically setup and the project charter word document template is there as well.

Click Views to return to the task list.

You can see that if you had a project with a lot of tasks in it and auto-alerts, documents etc. that it would save you a lot of time by creating the project from a template instead of entering in those details each time.

Of course, then you would make modifications to the project as required for this specific project such as changing the durations or work hours.

For example, for this project you believe the determine requirements will take 15 days instead of 10 and the hours will also increase.

Double click on the white space near the name to go into edit mode.

Enter 15 days for the duration.

And increase the work hours to 160.

Click Save.

You may also need to add additional tasks or delete non-required tasks. For example, maybe you want a summary task called programming.

Type in a new task in the gray blank line such as programming.

Click on the Action Icon and check is Summary.

Click Save.

Then you could add child tasks under programming as you needed.

For example, type in Interface.

Enter a duration of 20days.

Click Save.

You may also assign resources to work on the task.

Click the Edit icon for the Determine Requirements task

Click Add Resources.

Select a Resource from the resource drop down

Click OK.

That resource is now assigned to work on this task.

Because this is an actual project, you may find that you do need to add in a constraint date, instead of a dynamic date.

So instead of this task automatically starting at the same time as the Project Scheduled Start Date, you know it won’t start until next week.

Click on the calendar for the Start Date.

Select a date a week farther than the current Start Date.

You will get a confirmation message explaining that you are entering a constraint date and what that means.

Click Ok.

Click the Save icon to save all those changes.

You’ve now hardcoded in a constraint date on this task because that’s what required for this specific project.

When you’ve made all the changes to adjust the template information to the specifics for this project, you’re ready to start work on the project.

This task will appear on this resources work list and as it progresses, they will update things like the status.

Click on the Task to go to the Task Details screen.

Click on the Percent Complete to update it.

Change it to Done.

Click Save.

You may also do things like enter in comments, time and expenses and so on.

Creating a Template from an Existing Project

You’ve seen how to create a template from scratch, but a common thing is to create a template from a previously executed project.

For example, you initiate a project in Project Insight and manage it through to completion. You then decide that the details from that project would make a good template for future use and you also want to incorporate some lessons learned in that template.

To do that, click on the show left navigation icon.

Click on the Projects folder.

Right click on the project and select Copy.

Click on the Templates folder.

Right click on the white space at the top of form and select Tools and Paste.

You’ll see that it created a copy of that project in the folder. At this point, it’s still a project and you need to switch it to a template.

Click the Edit icon.

Change the name, such as New Template for Engineering.

Change the State to Template.

Click Save.

You’ll see that the new template is created.

Click on the name to see the task list.

Click the hide left navigation icon again to give you more screen real estate

What gets copied from the template to a new project are all your tasks, any dependencies and any constraints or hard-coded dates that you set, but it will also copy over the % complete and some other details that you don’t actually want in your template.

To see those, click Display Options.

Click on Column Selection Options to expand that section out, if it is not already expanded.

In the Selected Columns, click on Admin because you want to insert some new columns to display just before that.

In the Available Columns, double click on the % complete column to move it to Selected Columns.

Double click on the % complete checkbox column to move it to Selected Columns.

Scroll down to the Cs and double click on Constraint Date and Constraint Type.

Click the Update Display icon.

Those additional fields are now displayed.

You can adjust the column widths to make them fit on your screen if necessary.

Of course you can save this view once you’ve got it setup as you like so you can easily access it. To that, click Display Options.

In the Quick Selection, click the Edit icon.

Enter the View name, such as Templates.

Click the Save icon.

Click the Update Display icon.

So each time going forward that you need to create a template from a project, just switch to this view.

You first want to check that the % complete for all your tasks is set to zero.

If you have summary tasks and you want to quickly expand those out to see all your tasks, hover on tools and select Expand All Summary Tasks. That way, you won’t miss anything.

Then go through and uncheck the % complete checkbox for each task to reset it to zero.

Next, ensure all dates are set to be dynamic dates and not hard coded dates.

You can see hard coded dates have been entered for the Determine Requirements task because there is a constraint date entered and there is a constraint type of must start one.

Set it back to a dynamic date by setting the constraint type to as soon as possible and removing any constraint date fields.

Double click on the Constraint Date to do inline editing.

Erase the Constraint Date.

Click on the drop down for the Constraint Type.

Set it to as soon as possible.

It is now a dynamic date instead of a constrained or hard coded date.

Finally, check the resources column. Most likely, you don’t want resources pre-assigned to tasks in your template, if there are,

Click on the Add Resource option.

Click the X next to the resource name to remove the assignment.

Click Save.

It won’t copy over time or expense entries, so you don’t have to worry about that.

Those are the main things you need to check if you create a template from a previously executed project.

Add Sets of Tasks from Project Templates

Early in this session, you saw how a project creator could select a template to base a new project on during the add of a project.

However, that’s not the only way to use a template.

A project manager or project scheduler can actually pull in data from a template after the project is created.

This could be the entire project template or only sections of the template.

To see that, click on the show left navigation icon.

Click on the Templates folder.

Click on one of the other templates that are listed.

You can see this template has summary tasks and child tasks.

You can pull in pieces of this template into your project.

Click on the Projects folder.

Click on the hide left navigation icon.

Click on a project,

Hover on the Add Task icon.

Select Add from Template.

Click on the drop down list for the Templates.

You can see all the templates that you have access to.

Select the template that had the summary and child tasks.

Now click in the drop down for the Task.

This lists all the summary tasks in the project. You can select just a single summary task and its associated child tasks or if you leave this set as no selection, it will bring in all tasks in the project.

In this example, choose one of the summary tasks such as testing.

In this case, you are just going to bring in one section of the template, not the entire template.

Then, you need to determine where this new section is going to go.

Click in the drop down for Summary Task.

You’ll see all the summary tasks that are currently in your project.

For example, we added a summary task called programming.

Select a summary task under which you want to add this new section or if you want it as its own top level summary task, leave it as the current project.

Click Save.

You’ll see that those new tasks from the template have been added.

Project Options

There is one final item you should understand about templates, project options.

As a project manager or scheduler on a project, you are able to see project options which dictate how the project works.

To see those, hover on Views and select Options.

These options are covered in detail in other sessions, however, it’s important for you to note that any of these options that are set in a project template, are carried over to the projects that are created from that template.

It does not look at the default project options. It looks at the template project options.

If you change your default project options, you may want to apply those changes to your templates as well.

That covers all the topics in our training today.

Online 12/10/2015
Updated on: