You check emails on your phone in a taxi, at an airport or even in a grocery store. You may also edit documents in word, spreadsheet or PowerPoint while you are on the go. But have you ever thought about managing your projects on your phone?
Project management apps are one of the most popular functional areas for AppSheet creators. That’s because pretty much all of us, at one time or another, manage a project or a number of projects. I am no exception to that rule as my role here requires me to manage a ton of projects and project owners! My project management app helps me to ensure that deadlines are met and that work is distributed evenly.
After reviewing many project management apps and creating my own, I’ve realized that there are three critical features every project management app must have. Now your project management app may include a number of “other” bells and whistles but these three features are key to project management success:
- Group projects by field options such as Owner and Time to easily track projects;
- Automate schedule notifications to increase productivity;
- Control access to data so that project owners only see what they need to see, improving the user experience.
Data Grouping Makes Tracking the Progress of Projects Easier
If you’re like me, a project management spreadsheet might look like pretty similar to the one below. It contains a ton of data but is very difficult to navigate due to the number of columns you are traversing.
But in reality, you don’t need to see all the columns—you simply need to access those columns that need to be reviewed or updated based on an action. That’s why you need an app. With it, you can group and view your data by Project Owner, Project Start Time, Status, or even Project Category. So instead of eyeballing and mining data, you can effortlessly navigate to the group you want to check.
Data grouping can also help to identify the number of projects by time period (in this example, week) and Owner. That way you can easily determine owners that are tasked with too many projects, and if necessary, redistribute the projects or change the time period to ensure that all projects are completed. For example, in the following app, John and Mary each have three to four projects, but Matt has only one project. You may want to redistribute the load so that Matt is working on more projects.
To make status tracking even easier, use visual cues. Depending on the level of detail, you may want to use two different types of cues. For example:
- A pie chart to indicate whether a project is Completed (Full), In Progress (Half) or Not Started (Empty).
- A color bar to indicate whether an owner has Completed a project (Green), is In Progress (Yellow) or has Not Started (Red).
With this feature, in the field or in the office, you can easily locate the projects that need attention and decide what actions to take.
Automatic Deadline Alerts Keep Projects and Owners on Track
The last thing you want to see is a project delay. To keep everything on track and on schedule, why not automatically send a deadline alert to a project owner when his or her deadline is approaching? You can set up your app to do this for you with some simple settings.
For example, I can set up a workflow (you can do this under Reports in AppSheet App Editor) to send an email at a scheduled time. In this case, send deadline alert emails at 8am PST to project owners whose deadlines are two days from now. So, for example, if today is December 14, 2017, anyone whose deadline is December 16, 2017 will receive the Deadline Alert email at 8am today. The default email body can show project details and you can customize it to make it more personal. Below is an example of an automatic notification that is triggered based on a schedule deadline.
Another way to do this is to show all projects whose deadlines are two days away on a separate page, and decide if you want to send deadline alerts through pressing a button.
In either case, instead of manually reminding owners about tasks and deadlines, you have set up an automated process that does this for you. I don’t know about you, but this simple feature has made me so much more productive—no more manual tracking of deadlines!
Controlled Data Access: Project Owners See Only What they Need to See
Whether you’re working on one complicated project or a number of projects, you can control what project owners can access and update. This has two advantages:
- Uncluttered user interface for project owners as they only see information about the projects they are responsible for.
- Higher rates of adoption as the app is easy for project owners to use and update as they see only the information they care about.
I’ve set up my app to work this way: all project owners can access my app but they can only see the projects that they own. I am the only one that can see all data in the app. For example, on Ryan’s Owner view/page (Left screenshot), he can only see four projects because those are owned by him but I can see all projects (Right screenshot) including Ryan’s.
Download my project management app below, check my expressions and make your own app!
That’s it for today’s post. As you build your project management app, keep these key features in mind. And please let me know: what other management features do you think are critical? What other function-focused articles do you want to read? Leave your comments below—we are always interested in your point of view! For use cases in the real world, please visit our AppSheet Creator Spotlight. For step-by-step app making instructions and new features, please go to Features, Tips & Webinars.