Creating Custom Fields

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Team members, project managers, issue managers, executives


Because every project team is unique, you may want to track information that is particular to your process and organization. Project Insight allows you to add custom fields to the software. You can track and report on the information that is important to you. Systems administrators and project managers learn how to add these fields without any programming.


  • Know when it is appropriate to use custom fields
  • Learn how to create customizations that fit your project team’s business process

Key Points


One of the things you’re going to learn in today’s session, is when is it appropriate to use custom fields.

By default, Project Insight already has a lot of database fields that you need to manage your projects and your portfolio.

However, every organization is unique and it is likely that you may have requirements for fields that are different than other organizations because they are specific to your business process.

If you have this situation, your System Administrator can create custom fields to capture and report on the data that you need to conduct your business.

So, how do you know when it’s appropriate to use custom fields in addition to the built-in database fields in Project Insight?

Some of the built-in fields in Project Insight have special functions that are coded into the program to extend their capabilities above and beyond what you would do with a custom field.

Therefore, it’s recommended that you always try to use built-in fields that already exist first, and use custom fields only if you need to.

Add Fields to Project, Task, Company, or User Forms

As I said, Project Insight already has a lot of native fields that you need to manage the projects in your portfolio.

These native fields are setup for projects, tasks, companies, users and other forms in the system. You should always review those native fields before you set up custom fields.

Let’s look at the native fields for a project, although this same concept applies to all items in Project Insight.

As you can see on this Dashboard, there is a list of projects that this resource is assigned to.

Click on the project name to view the project task list.

Click the Edit icon to edit the project.

The project add/edit form shows.

This form shows all the database fields that are associated with a project, such as the project name, a description of the project, who the resources are and who the sponsor is.

These are all native fields and they are pretty self-explanatory.

There is also a field called Type.

This is a project data field that’s typically used for categorizing your projects. Almost all of our customers use this and because it’s so commonly used, it’s also a native field.

Click on the drop down for the Type field.

You can see the project types that are available for you to choose from.

These project types were defined by your System Administrator when your system was initially setup.

Click on a Type to choose it.

Once you’ve assigned a Type to a project, you can run project reports based on the different type of projects you have. For example, you could select to report on projects for only one type or you could group projects by their type.

You can see some of the other native fields that are available on the General tab.

There are also project data fields that show on other tabs.

To see those, click on the Time, Expense & Billing Information tab and you can see the project data fields there.

Click on the Target Budget Information tab to see the project data fields on that tab.

Your tabs may be different than what is showing here, because your system may be configured differently than this one.

It’s just important to note that data fields may be on different tabs and not just the General tab.

If you need to capture information that is not on any of the native fields on any of the tabs, you can create a project custom field.

For example, you decide you need to capture an accounting code for each of your projects.

There is no native field to do that, so you will need to add it.

Add a Custom Field to a Project Form

To add a custom field, you need to be a System Administrator.

If you are not, you won’t have the Administration options available.

Click the Cancel option, because you don’t want to save the changes you made on this project.

To get to the Administration options, click the Expand Left Navigation icon.

You now see the left navigation section.

Click anywhere on the Administration title to expand out that section.

You can now see all the available options in that section.

You can make the left navigation section wider if you need to by hovering on the line separating the navigation and the details section and drag it wider or smaller.

In the Administration section, click on the arrow next to the Customization option.

You can see that there are different customization options available.

For example, you can create separate custom items or forms, other than what is native to Project Insight.

For example, maybe you want to create a survey that your customers fill out after each project is finished. You could create a custom form for that. You can attend our Using Custom Items and Forms training session for more details on that.

You can also create workflow forms.

These are multiple part forms that can be filled out with approval processes for each section and you can also print hard-copies of the forms in a PDF format that could be circulated electronically or printed, signed and filed.

You can brand your site with Themes.

And you can change the Culture and Interface labels, to display in a different language, to use your companies specific terms for fields, to change the validation and rules on a field and even remove native fields from the display that you don’t use.

In this session, you are going to just create User Defined Fields.

Now click the Collapse Left Navigation icon because you don’t need that showing when you’re creating your custom fields.

You can see the list of all the forms in Project Insight that you can add custom fields to. This includes projects, tasks, change orders, issue and so on.

In this training session you are going to add a custom field to a project but the process is the same for any of the items listed.

Click on Project to add a custom field to a project.

There are some instructions on this form you can review if you need to.

To add a new custom field, click Add Field.

There are a lot options available to you when you’re creating a custom field.

For today’s session, you’re going to add different Custom Fields using the most common options.

Custom Field Options

The first option you have is a checkmark to identify whether or not the field is active.

You can have inactive custom fields so for example, if your business process changes and a custom field becomes obsolete, you can still retain the data in Project Insight, but hide the field by making it inactive.

For now, leave it checked as active.

The Field Name is where you type in the name of the field. This is a required field and this is the name that the project managers and team members see when looking at project data or running reports, so you want to make it as descriptive as possible without being too long.

Type in Accounting Code

You can see, you can have spaces in the Field Name.

Help Text for Custom Field

You can also put in help text for a custom field, so that your project managers and team members can get additional information about what this field may be.

The help will appear as a ‘tool tip’’ when the user hovers the mouse over the field.

This help text will help the project manager who is filling out the form to understand what type of information needs to be entered here.

Type in Accounting Code for the project. Get from accounting team.

The Help Text is optional. You don’t have to put anything in here but it is recommended that you do enter help text because it will help to reduce errors and phone calls asking for help.

Input Control

Now you need to define what type of custom field this is going to be.

To do that, click on the Input Control drop down.

The input control gives you different option to determine what type of data you are going to enter in this field.

There are a lot of options available and they are not all covered in this session, but you will see the ones that are the most common.


For the accounting code, you may just want the project manager to type that code in and it could be letters or numbers, so set the Input Control as a Textbox.

Depending on what Input Control type you choose, additional options may display.

Because you chose an Input Control type of Textbox, you can see that you can also set the Data Type.

By default, the default is set to string, which means it can be letters or numbers.

If you click on the drop down for the Data Type, you can see the other options available; currency, date, decimal, integer and percent. You can use the Data Type to restrict the type of information the project manager can enter.

For now just leave string set and click on the white space anywhere on the form to exit out of the drop down.

Leave all the other options as their defaults, we’ll talk more about them in a minute, and click the Save icon.

You can see there is now a custom field called Accounting Code and it is a Textbox.

Now add another type of custom field.

Click Add Field again.

Remember that one of the native fields was project type.

But maybe there is another way you want to categorize projects.

For example, maybe you manage projects in different geographical locations so you want to track and report on projects by the Country they are being performed in.

So create a custom field called Country by typing Country into the Field Name.

In the Help Text, enter Country where project is located.

For this custom field, you don’t want your project managers entering anything they want. You want to setup a pre-defined list of countries that they can choose from.

To set that, click in the Input Control dropdown and scroll up to the top of the list and select Combobox.

Once you selected that type of Input Control, you can see a new section called List Values.

This is where you enter all the options that your project managers will be able to choose from.

In the gray line, type in the first option the project manager will be able to choose.

Enter United States.

Click the plus sign icon to add it.

You can see United States is now listed as an option.

In the gray line, add another country. Enter Canada.

Click the plus sign icon to add it.

Now enter the last option, type Mexico in the gray line.

Click the plus sign icon to add it.

You have now created three options for the custom field Country.

Your project managers will only be able to select from one, they can’t type their own free form text.

Setting the Order of Drop Down List

The options will display in alphabetical order unless you override that by entering an order number, in this order column.

If for example, you wanted United States to be first instead of last, you’d enter a 1 for United States.

Click the edit icon for United States.

Enter 1 in the order.

Click the plus sign icon to save those changes.

Click the edit icon for Canada.

Enter 2 in the order.

Click the plus sign icon to save those changes.

Click the edit icon for Mexico.

Enter 3 in the order.

Click the plus sign icon to save those changes.

This was designed this way so you can put the most common options at the top of the selection list and streamline your data entry.

Setting Default for Drop Down List

You can also do things like setting a list value as the default list value. If one of the options is chosen most of the time, you can set that as the default, again streamlining your data entry process.

Click the edit icon for United States.

Click on the checkbox in the default column.

There is also an Is Active option. If a list value becomes redundant, you can make it inactive so the information is retained in the software for historical purposes, but it isn’t displayed.

Click the plus sign icon to save those changes.

Make a Custom Field Required

If you wanted to ensure that a Country was always selected for each project, you can set it as a required field.

To do that, there is a Required option.

Click the Required option to set that.

This will require that there is always a Country set for the project and the project can’t be saved without that being set.

Click Save.

You can now see there is a Country custom field and it is a Combobox, which means there is a list of items you can choose from instead of a free form text field, which is what the Accounting Code was set to.

Let’s see now how this looks on the project add/edit form.

Click on My Insight to go to your Dashboard.

Click on the Project Name to display the project task list.

Click the Edit Project icon.

You can see that there is a new tab now called Custom Field.

Click on it.

You can see the project custom fields that you added.

The Accounting Code is a free form text field where you can type in anything you want.

Enter the code which could be letters and numbers.

The Country field however, is a drop down.

You can see that it is defaulted to the United States because that is the default option you set.

Click on the drop down arrow to see your options.

Click on another Country to select it instead.

So that’s one way to select an item from a Combobox if you have a shortlist of options to choose from.

However, if you have a really long list, you can start typing in part of the word you are searching for.

To see how this works, click on the drop down and click No Selection to remove what was there.

Now click in the field and type in ‘st.’

You can see it narrows the search down to the United States option because that’s the only option with ‘st’ in it and that st didn’t have to be at the front of the first word, it can be anywhere.

You could keep typing letters to narrow the list if it was really long, then click on the option you want.

This is just one of the many usability features that helps you get around Project Insight faster. A combobox lets you type in any part of the data that you’re looking for. It doesn’t have to be at the beginning, it can be anywhere in the string.

Help Text

Remember, that you also entered help text for the custom field.

In order to see that help text, click on the Accounting code field label.

You can see that the help text is displayed, giving the project manager more information about what to enter in that field.

Required Fields

You’ll see that the Country custom field label has a red asterisk against it, while the Accounting Code custom field doesn’t have that.

That’s because you set the Country field to be required while the Accounting Code wasn’t required.

A red asterisk on a custom field or any field for that matter indicates that it’s a required field.

Let’s remove the Country selection to see how that works. Click on the drop down for Country and click No Selection to remove what was there.

Now click Save.

You get an error message that you must enter a value for Country.

It won’t let you save until you put in an entry for the required field.

So let’s enter a country again.

Click in the drop down for Country and select United States.

Click Save again.

You custom field entries have been saved.

Viewing Custom Fields/Project Display Form

You can see that new custom field on the project display form by hovering on Views, and clicking on Status.

Click on the Custom Fields tab and you can see that data.

This is the display form for the project data versus the other form you have been seeing which is the add/edit form. You can actually change where the custom fields appear on this form. The default is in the Custom Fields tab.

But you can also display it in the top section or the summary section.

Or in the details section. Click on Details to expand that.

You’ll see how to set that in a moment.

Multiple Comboboxes

Now you can create a couple of more different custom field types.

Expand out the left navigation again.

Click on Customization in the Administration section.

Click on Project.

Collapse the left navigation to hide it.

You have the ability to create combo-boxes and multiple comboboxes.

A combo box is a single select. You can only select one thing.

You created a Country custom field with a combo box input type, which meant you could only select one Country per project.

But what if you wanted to be able to select multiple countries for one project?

You could do that with a ComboBox (multiple) input control.

A ComboBox (multiple), means that you can select more than one item from the list.

To do that, you want to change the type of input control you have for the Country custom field.

Click the Edit icon on the Country line.

Click on the drop down for the Input Control.

Once you’ve created a custom field and saved it, you are only able to change it to compatible Input Control types.

For example, a Combobox Input Control type custom field can only be changed to one of the following compatible Input Control types. You can’t change it to a date picker, for example.

To change it, in the Input Control select ComboBox (multiple).

When you use this Input Type, the default setting is no longer applicable. You can’t set defaults when there is a multiple combobox type.

You’ll see that difference in a minute when we go back to the project edit form, but in the meantime you’re going to add a few more common custom field types.

Add another field by hovering over the Save icon and selecting Save & Add another field.

For this custom field, enter a Field Name called Goals because you want to capture the high level Goals of this project.

In the Input Control, it defaults to the textbox, which is a simple box for short text but you want to add more than one line of data.

To do that, click on the drop down and change it to Textarea.

A text area control is a longer box where you type paragraphs of information.

The textbox and textarea are different html controls for those of you that are familiar with HTML.

The HTML standard name is used in the control name to make it readily identifiable to those with HTML experience.

All the options in this list above the Textbox option are HTML standard controls.

You can scroll up to see all the options.

There are other types of Input Controls available however, other than HTML standard ones.

Scroll back down to Textbox. These are all the controls listed after the Textbox control.

To see how those, hover over the Save icon and select Save & Add another field.


For this custom field, you are going to use one of the other Input Control types.

In the Field Name, enter Technical Lead, because you want to record the name of the resource that will be the Technical Lead on the project.

In the Input Control, click on the drop down.

You can see below the textbox option, there are options such as company selector, department selector, expense code selector and so on.

These Input Control types allows you to select the data for this custom data field from other data fields that are already in Project Insight.

For example, scroll down to the User Selector option and click on it.

This control enables the project managers to select from the list of users that are already in the system.

Instead of having to re-enter all your users in a combobox or letting your project managers just type a name in a textbox leaving room for mistakes, you can just select them from the users that are already setup.

Before you save this, click on the drop down for the Input Control again. You can see for the User Selector option, there is also a User Selector (multiple) option and this is the true for all these same kinds of control.

Basically, multiple lets you select more than one option versus a single option. You’ll see how that works when you look at the form and the Country code.

Hover over the Save icon and select Save & Add another field.

This is the last custom field you’ll add and it is a date.

In the Field Name, enter Date Requested.

In the Input Control, select Date Selector.

Before you save this custom field, you can change some of the other options.

Custom Fields Display

You’ll recall that when you looked at the Project Add/Edit form, all the custom fields showed on a Custom tab.

That is the default location for a custom field, however, you can change that setting so the custom field shows on the General tab instead.

To do that, click in the drop down for the Input Location.

This input location is the form that’s used to add or edit information, hover on Summary/General Tab (Higher).

This puts the custom field closer to the top of the add/edit form.

If you select Details/General Tab (Lower),

That puts the custom field closer to the bottom of the add/edit form.

The Normal (Tab) setting puts it on its own custom tab.

Click on Summary/General Tab (Higher).

You can also change it on the display form. Remember, you saw the display form earlier for the project. You change where the information displays on that form with the Display Location setting.

You saw the different sections on that display form, click Summary/General Tab (Higher) there as well.

Click Save.

Let’s look at what this looks like now with those changes.

Click on My Insight to go to your Dashboard.

Click on the Project Name to display the project task list.

Click the Edit Project icon.

This is the project add/edit form and you can see that on the General tab, the Date Requested custom field is displayed right below the Description instead of on the Custom Field tab. That’s because you set the Input Location for the custom field to be Summary/General tab.

To enter a date, you can just type it in.

You can see that when you click in the field, help text appears telling you what format to use and some data entry shortcuts.

You can also click on the Calendar icon and select a date from a calendar instead of having to figure out the format.

Now click on the Custom Fields tab.

The other custom fields are still displayed here because the input location was set to the Normal or the separate tab.

The Accounting Code is still there, you didn’t change that, but the Country custom field has changed. You changed it from a Combobox where you can select one option only to a Combobox (multiple) where you can select multiple options.

To select multiple options, click on the drop down for the Country.

You can see the Country United States was already selected because it’s displayed in the right hand box and even though you changed the Input Control, it still remembered that information.

The remaining available options are displayed in the left hand box.

Click on Canada to select that one as well. You can see it has now moved to the right hand box.

Just click on it again to remove it.

That’s a Combobox (multiple).

Click on Canada again to select it.

Click anywhere on the white space to stop editing the combobox multiple information.

You can now see that two Countries have been selected.

Now look at the Accounting Code. It was set as a Textbox which means there’s only one line of data that you can enter.

However, the Goals custom field was set to a Textarea and there you can enter multiple lines of information.

A textbox is one line only whereas as a Textarea is multiple lines.

And finally, there is the technical lead custom field that you created. The Input Type Control for that was set to User Selector.

Click on the drop down for that and you can see that you can select from the list of users that were already setup in the system.

Those are the most common types of custom fields.

Now you want to set some of the other options that you’ll use when creating a custom field.

Click Save to save that information.

To see those changes on the project display form, hover on Views and select Status.

You can see the Date Requested custom field is showing in the top section.

Expand out the left navigation again.

Click on Customization.

Click Project.

Collapse the left navigation to hide it.

General Options

You want to now change some of the options for the Country field.

To do that, edit the Country custom field by clicking the Edit icon on the Country line.

You’ve already seen how you can change where custom fields display with the Input Location and Display Location.

You can also change the order of the custom fields with the Input and Display Row/Order options.

If you had multiple fields, then just enter numbers here to dictate the order in which they are displayed on the add/edit forms and the display forms.

There are also two Required options. The first one, Required, indicates whether or not its required on the Add/Edit forms.

The second is Required Inline. This applies when you’re able to edit the information on a view or report.

It is usually best practice that if you’re going to require a field when editing in one place, you most likely will require it when you’re editing in another place, so you usually want to check both of these one.

However, use caution, when requiring fields. If the options are turned on, they are always required no matter what and there’s no way around that.

The next four options have to do with reporting and printing.

The Show as Report Filter option is one that you will use often. If you want to filter reports by this custom field, you must check this option.

Click on Show as Report Filter option to turn it on.

That way you can say that you only want to see project associated with a certain Country.

If you want to group by the custom field on a report, check the Enable Group By option.

That way you can now group information by Country so you see all the United States projects together, the Canada projects together and so on.

The Enable Sum Column only works for mathematical integer data fields and it enables you to total on that field on a report. If the custom field isn’t a number then this option isn’t applicable and it doesn’t matter what you set.

The last option is Hide on print is something that isn’t used very often, but you can check it to ensure the custom field doesn’t print on print friendly displays.

Table Options

Those are the General options or most common options for custom fields.

There are other options available and you can see those by clicking on the Table Options tab.

This is where you set the options for displaying the field in reports and display lists.

Enable as a column indicates it is available for showing in display lists.

Default column means that it will automatically show in all of your reports and you don’t have to add it each time. However, you can add or remove it on each view as you require. This just sets it as default to be displayed.

Table Column Name is a shortened version of the Field Name to use on views and reports as the column header.

For example, instead of accounting code displaying, you may only want to see the word code on lists and reports.

Table Column Width is the default column width to use, but it can be overridden on individual views and reports.

Table Column Wrap Text is a checkbox, to indicate whether or not to wrap text.

Again that can be changed on each view as you require.

Enable Comment Logs

Next, click on the Advanced tab.

The only option you may set in here on a regular basis is the Enable comment logs.

The Enable comment log enables you to automatically log changes to this data field as comments. If this is an important field and you want to see if changes are made, check the option.

The other options on the Advanced Tab are where you can get into label orientation and form layout. This is addressed in some more detail in the other sessions.

However, it is recommended that you be familiar with cascading style sheets and java script code before making changes to this section.

We do offer professional services to help you with that if needed.

So, let’s click back on the General tab.


If you need more help on the standard custom field options, click the help icon.

Expand out the sections to see more details.

Close the help by clicking the X.

Now, click Save to save your changes and you’ll see next what some of those changes do.


Being able to report easily on those custom fields you just created is an important aspect.

You’ve now created custom fields for the project and entered data in those fields.

That data is now available in your reports. To see that,

Click the Reports icon.

Click on the Project tab if it’s not already selected.

Click Create New Project Report.

If you checked the option, Show as Report Filter for a custom field, you’ll have a Custom Field Filtering Options section.

Click on it to expand it out and see the custom fields filter details.

You can see that you can filter by Country.

Select a Country in the drop down list, for example, select United States, if you only want to see projects associated with that Country.

Click on the Custom Field Filtering Options section to collapse it again.

If you chose the Enable Group By option for a custom field, it will show in the Portfolio Group By / Sub Total Options section.

Click on it to expand it out

Click on the column drop down, and you’ll see that you’re able to group by Country.

Because you are filtering by one company only, just leave this blank for now.

Click on the Portfolio Group By / Sub Total Options to collapse it again.

You can also put a custom field as a column on a report.

Click the Column Selection Options to expand out that section.

Remember the option called default column for the custom fields?

If you had checked that, the custom field would automatically show in the Selected Columns section.

However, even if you didn’t set it as a default column, you can add it to the view or report.

Scroll down to the Country and you can see it’s available to print as a column on the report.

Double click on it to move it to the Selected Columns.

Click Update Display icon.

The project assigned to the custom field of United States is displayed.

All of those functions that you have learned in Creating and Running Portfolio & Project Reports training session are now available to you for this custom field. In addition, there would be some mathematical capabilities if it were a numeric data field. For example, totals would appear in the report totals line.

So that should help you get started with a foundation of adding those custom fields to follow your business process 100%.

Online 10/29/2015
Updated on: