Improved Functionality

Faster meeting minutes

PTracker is designed so items can be added or updated quickly.  Some PMs (Project Managers) even enter the updates during meetings.  When the update is complete, simply create a short summary of key issues that management should be aware of and attach the task list for anyone wanting additional details.

PTracker has numerous advantages over spreadsheets to make data entry and printing faster - new records are created faster, names can often be entered by typing only 1-2 letters, there are no 'cells' to be re-sized, no more worries about proper page breaks, no more worries about removing completed tasks before printing, etc., etc.

An additional feature is PTracker's ability to print the last "xx" days of completed tasks.  The number of days is chosen by the user when printing.  For those who like to keep completed tasks on the printed list for a short time, this feature provides that function without requiring any extra effort from the project manager to sort through them before printing.

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Quicker response to update requests

PTracker has a special report designed to provide team members with all the necessary background when requesting updates.

This report has two important benefits:
  1. The team member has all the background information needed to understand the task and responsibilities.  (Clearer questions result in quicker, clearer answers,)
  2. The team member knows the item is being formally tracked.
The usual result is a quick response.

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Help team members prepare for meetings

One of the PTracker reports is a list of open action items sorted by person responsible.  Each person's list is on a separate sheet.  This list is appreciated because it saves them the time required to sort through the minutes again to verify their own action items.  In fact, many people feel they are too busy to review the minutes before the next meeting so this list is ideal for them.

The list benefits the project manager in at least three ways:
  1. Distribution of this list is an excellent meeting reminder.
  2. People will come to the meeting much more prepared because they know exactly what is expected.
  3. No more excuses - it's almost impossible for anyone to miss an action that might typically have been buried in the text of regular minutes.
With better preparation, project meetings run faster and more effectively.

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Follow-up view

With the click of a single button, PTracker can be set to show only those tasks which are due (or overdue) for follow-up.  This makes it easy for the PM to review only those tasks that need follow-up and update the status based on the follow-up results.  If the PM needs to call the person responsible, a single click will open a window to show the assigned person's phone number and any previous comments that may have been entered.

A printed report of follow-up tasks is also available for those who prefer to work from paper. This report sorts the tasks by project number (if multiple projects are requested) then by follow-up date.

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Graphic output option

Another PTracker report shows the progress of tasks in a simple graph.  This makes it easier for the PM to review current task timing and determine which items are late and/or likely to affect the overall timing of the project.

For large projects which have a separate master timing chart, this simple graph is the easiest way to make comparisons with the master chart.

For smaller projects, this report could even be the official timing chart.

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Quick List

This report is intended as a quick reference for the project manager.  It is generally faster than printed reports because it has fewer choices and no special formatting.  Its speed makes it useful for quick checks in the morning or when on the phone.  It also pops up in a separate window which means it can remain active while using the main program to search for other items.  There are three report choices:

The Quick List report is a simple text listing which uses WordPad by default.  (Any other word processor can be selected if WordPad is not available.)

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Global text search

A "Locate" command on PTracker's Task View form can be used to search all tasks for any text string.

For example, you know that you entered purchase order number "1234" somewhere but you don't remember the task number. By clicking the Locate button and entering "1234", the program will search all tasks in all projects and open the first task containing that text.  If you need to continue the search, simply press the Enter key twice and the next occurrence will be shown.

Other programs used for issue tracking, such as Outlook, can only search for text in the task that is currently on-screen.

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View 'Active', 'All', or 'Follow-up'

A single button at the top of the Task View screen allows the user to instantly switch between any of the following view choices:

Active - View and search only tasks that are currently Active or on Hold.  (Default)
All - View and search all tasks - Active, Hold, Complete, or Cancelled.
Follow-up - View and search only tasks requiring follow-up by tomorrow.

This feature means the project manager normally sees only the currently active tasks and does not waste time looking through closed tasks.  However, the old tasks are immediately available when needed and all search and reporting capabilities are maintained.

Similarly, this feature allows the PM to easily view only those tasks which are currently due for follow-up.

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Instant access

All issues and action items for all projects are in one place.   This means the project managers have instant access to information when needed.

Since many project managers handle more than one project at a time, a call from the boss or a team member can mean a mad scramble if they are busy on a different project or topic. (Sometimes even when they're working on the same project!)  With PTracker all the information is just a couple clicks away.  Even historical information is readily available because closed tasks cannot be removed until the whole project is complete.

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Structured action item list

PTracker shows action items as a sub-list of each task.  This method groups action items logically while still making it easy to assign unique responsibilities and due dates as shown here:

Task Resp. Due
Prepare test rig to run new part. Sara 06/15/00
Place order for new sensors. Sam 05/05/00
Build new fixtures. (start now) Joe 06/01/00
Rebuild existing motors. Fred 06/10/00
Assemble and run break-in. Fred 06/15/00

This method of listing action items is what makes it possible to create the individualized Actions Due report.  (see topic #3: "Help team members prepare for meetings")

Typical spreadsheets put all action items either in separate rows (i.e., unrelated to a specific task) or in one cell.  With separate rows, all inter-relationships are lost.  With one cell, it is impossible to print individualized reports and difficult to assign unique responsibilities and unique due dates.
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