Manage tasks

 

Updated: November 1, 2016

Applies To: Dynamics Marketing

System_CAPS_importantImportant

Microsoft Dynamics Marketing is scheduled to be retired on May 15, 2018. After that date the service will no longer be available. Please plan accordingly. For details, see the customer FAQ. You can also read the blog post Microsoft Dynamics Marketing service will be discontinued, and learn what’s coming next.

Plan and manage your work better by using tasks that help you track the work that needs to be done and give you a better sense of your workload.

To work with tasks, you must have Edit/View Tasks privileges. More information: Work with user accounts and staff contacts

Users who have Edit My Tasks permission, but not Edit All Tasks permission, will be able to do the following for tasks that are assigned to or by them:

  • The Assigned by user can change any information in a task.

  • The Assigned to user can change the status or end date, and attach notes, documents, and digital assets.

Here are some quick guidelines for using tasks:

  • Divide projects into tasks.

  • Use tasks however they work for you. There are no set criteria for what makes up a task.

  • A task can only be assigned to a single person. If more than one person is needed to accomplish that task, divide the task into smaller parts.

  • Tasks should always have due dates.

  • Link tasks to contacts, jobs, campaigns, etc. where appropriate.

  • Use task reports as part of your time and project management processes.

  • Pre-load your estimated task times for standard tasks. Dynamics Marketing will automatically enter them into the tasks and give you a better sense of your workload.

Think of tasks as pieces of work assigned or done as part of one's duties, functions to be performed, or objectives. Tasks are always assigned to contacts. Here are a few tips for working with tasks:

  • View the tasks each contact needs to complete or has completed so that important tasks don’t get forgotten or delayed.

  • Divide projects—jobs, events, campaigns, and programs—into smaller more manageable pieces.

  • Assign tasks to categories. Analyze timeliness, counts, and duration by category.

  • Set reminders for tasks. Reminders help you plan and manage your work better and alert you to upcoming activities/tasks.

  • Estimate the duration of tasks. Compare estimated duration with actual duration using time slips.  

  • Turn on email alerts for tasks and receive email notifications when tasks are assigned or the status changes.

  • Use one-click tasks to create tasks quickly to track your activity.

  • Use the fully editable task grid when you work with projects.

The Task function in Dynamics Marketing is the electronic equivalent of your to-do list:

  • Make tasks for yourself to keep track of all the things you need to do.

  • Assign tasks to others when you want them to do things for you. When they perform a task and update its status, Dynamics Marketing will inform you by showing the task with its status in bold on your task list. After you open or mark a task as read, it's no longer bold.

    If you want to be informed immediately, turn on your task alerts to receive an email or text message when the task is assigned to you or the task status is changed. More information: Work with alerts

  • When you complete a task and set the status to Completed, the task disappears from the Task list. You can see completed tasks by clicking the Show All button Show All/Active Only button.

Tasks are tightly integrated with workflow. Workflow is the management of steps in a process, such as producing an ad or brochure. A workflow specifies what tasks need to be done, in what order, and who the tasks are assigned to. Use tasks to implement workflow for projects in the following ways:

  • Tasks can be linked to projects.

  • Tasks are assigned to the people who perform them so that everyone knows who is doing what.

  • Tasks have a status and due date that shows when the work needs to be done.

  • Tasks can be linked together.

  • When tasks are completed, the job status can be updated so that users can see the job progress.

To work with all of the tasks in the system, go to Project > Tasks > Tasks. This brings you to the Tasks list page, from which you can inspect, create, and edit all of the tasks in the system (for which you have permission).

In addition to the system tasks you see on the Tasks list page, you can also view tasks for a specific entity in Dynamics Marketing by going to the Tasks related-information tab on that entity’s maintenance page. You can associate tasks with many more entities, including email, campaign, job, file, and contact. When you access a task list on the related-information tab of an entity, it shows only tasks that are directly associated with the record you are viewing. Other than this, all Tasks related-information tabs work exactly as the main Tasks list page and include the same components and settings described in the remainder of this topic.

The Tasks list page provides many of the standard features for searching, sorting, filtering, adding, removing, and viewing items in the list, plus other common features. For details about how to use these common features, see Learn how to work and get around in Microsoft Dynamics Marketing. In addition to these common features, Dynamics Marketing provides several features that are specialized for working with tasks, as described in the following sections.

Setting

Description

Mark Completed button
Mark Completed

Marks all selected tasks as completed.

Select the check box for each task you want to update, and then click this button to change the Status of each selected task to “Complete”.

Change Assigned To button
Change Assigned To

Changes the Assigned To value for all selected tasks.

Select the check box for each task you want to update, and then click this button to open the Reassign pop-up window. Enter the new contact in the To Type-ahead field, and then click Submit to apply the change.

Update Tasks and Teams button
Update Tasks and Teams

Updates the Assigned To, Assigned By or For role setting for several tasks at once. You can also update the Teams assigned to a program, campaign, or job so that they match your updated settings.

This button opens a Assign Tasks and Update Teams pop-up window that lets you establish the scope of your update and choose whether to update the associated program, campaign, and job teams.

Update Status button
Update Status

Changes the Status value and status comment for all selected tasks.

Select the check box for each task you want to update, and then click this button to open the New Task Status pop-up window. Use these settings to establish a new status and/or comment for the tasks (leave the Status field blank to update only the comments), and then click Submit to apply the change.

Mark as Read/Unread button
Mark as Read/Unread

Toggles the read/unread status of all selected tasks.

Unread tasks are shown in bold in the list view, which makes them easy to see. Tasks are automatically changed to read (not bold) once you have opened them. However, you can also toggle the read/unread status of one or more tasks manually as you are working in the list view. To do so, select the check box for each task you want to update, and then click this button.

New Time Slip button
New Time Slip

Creates a time slip associated with a selected task and the current user (you). You can select only one task, or select no tasks to create a time slip without a task association. Use time slips to record how long it took to complete a task, which is useful for later analysis and/or billing.

Select the check box for the task you want to add a time slip for, and then click this button to go to the Add Time Slip page. More information: Analyze time spent working on a task or a project

Reply button
Reply

Creates a new task that will be used as a pre-set response to a selected task. If you select more than one task, then a separate response task will be created for each task. All of the original tasks (those you are replying to) will automatically be updated to have a Status = “Not ready to start”.

Select the check box for one or more tasks, and then click this button to create a response task for each selected original task. This will bring you to the maintenance page for your newly-created task, which will already be configured with the Assigned To and Assigned By assignments reversed (compared to the original), a Name that has “RE:” added to the beginning of the original task name, plus a few other values related to your original task and current context. The Status of each reply task is initially set to “Not Started”.

If you select more than one task, then a response will be created for each task you select, but only one maintenance page will be opened; the other new tasks will be listed as unread.

One-click task drop-down list

This drop-down list provides a shortcut for creating any of several types of pre-set and pre-completed tasks. Use these tasks to record small, short-duration events like a phone call, email, or work delivery.

To create a one-click task, choose a task type from this drop-down list. A new task of the selected type is then created and opened in your browser, where you can adjust all of the standard settings.

System_CAPS_noteNote

Your administrator can customize the collection of standard tasks available in this list. See Create custom drop-down values and folders for details about how to customize drop-down list values. Note also that there are two different types of one-click task lists in the system:

  • To modify one-click tasks on the Jobs and Tasks list pages and tabs, edit Category Type = One-click Task (Jobs).

  • To modify one-click tasks on the Contacts list page and tabs, edit Category Type = One-click Task (Contacts).

Reminder button
Reminder (list-column button)

Specify up to two reminder dates for each task. This button appears in the Reminder column for each task where a reminder date has passed, to call your attention to tasks that are getting late. Click this button to turn off the reminder for a given task.

Read/Unread button
Mark as Read/Unread (list-column button)

Toggles the read/unread status of a single listed task. Unread tasks are displayed in bold.

This button is similar to the Mark as Read/Unread toolbar button (described earlier in this table), but it affects only a single task.

Complete button
Mark Completed (list-column button)

Indicates a task that is not yet complete. Click this button to mark a task as complete.

This button is similar to the Mark Completed toolbar button (described earlier in this table), but it affects only a single task.

In Process button
In Process (list-column button)

The presence and color of this button indicate when a task is not started (black), in process (blue), or completed (no button). The button state corresponds with the Status of each task, but has fewer states. Click this button to update the status of a single task as follows:

  • Click a black in-process button to change the Status to “In Process” and change the button color to blue.

  • Click a blue in-process button to change the Status to “Complete” and remove the button.

Other toolbar buttons

The remaining toolbar buttons are common for many areas of Dynamics Marketing. For details about the new, copy, delete, show-my/show-all, Excel, print, show/hide inactive, and customize-column commands, see Learn how to work and get around in Microsoft Dynamics Marketing.

System_CAPS_tipTip

All functions that act on selected tasks affect only those rows whose check box is selected. When you use these functions, all of your selected tasks must be listed on the same page (you cannot make selections across several pages of results).

On the Tasks list page you can edit the following field values directly in the list, without opening a maintenance page:

  • Due Date

  • Assigned to

  • Assigned by

To edit any of these fields directly in the list:

  1. Choose a value from the column (Due Date, Assigned to, or Assigned by) for the task you want to edit.

  2. The field you select is now highlighted in blue, and editing controls appear directly below it. For date values, these include calendar functions, while for contacts, you'll see a Type-ahead field.

    Edit values in the list

  3. Edit the value as needed, and then click the save button to save the value (or click the close button to cancel).

When you create or edit a task, the settings listed in the following subsections are provided on the Task maintenance page.

The main settings are always visible at the top of the Task maintenance page.

Setting

Description

Name

Enter a short but descriptive name. This value will identify the current record in list views, type-ahead fields, drop-down lists, and other areas of Dynamics Marketing. Choose a value that you and all other users are likely to recognize in the future.

Private

Select this check box to make the task private. Private tasks can only be seen or edited by the assigned to and assigned by users. Other users can't see private tasks, even if they have View All Tasks or Edit All Tasks privileges.

Priority

Priority indicates the importance of a task (for example: high, medium or low). This value can be useful for sorting and filtering your records and for supporting internal processes or policies. Your admin can customize the values available here; see Create custom drop-down values and folders for details about how to customize drop-down values. (Category type = Task Priority.)

Status

The current status of the task (for example, in process or completed). This value can be useful for sorting and filtering your records and for supporting internal processes or policies. Your admin can customize the values available here; see Create custom drop-down values and folders for details about how to customize drop-down values. (Category type = Task Status.)

Task status can also be important in automated campaigns, where you can set up a trigger to react to a task’s status (see also Automate campaigns with the campaign canvas).

The Status drop-down list includes several permanent entries that are associated with specific functionality, and therefore can’t be removed, but they can be renamed. For a description of each permanent task status, see Task status values, later in this topic.

Task Status Comments

Use status comments to add more information about the task status. Use the following buttons to view, edit, or delete a status comment:

Status Comment button Status Comment: Click this button to enter a new comment. Hover your mouse over this button to read the current comment. (You can also read comments on the Tasks list page by click the Customize Columns button.)

Clear Comment button Clear Comment: Click this button to delete the current status comment.

Assigned To

Choose the contact who is responsible for completing the task. You can assign tasks to any contact, including yourself. This is a Type-ahead field and must refer to a record that already exists in the database.

System_CAPS_noteNote

The user the task has been assigned to can update task status, create task notes, and link documents to it.

Assigned By

This field initially shows the name of the contact who created the task, but you can edit it at any time. This is a Type-ahead field and must refer to a record that already exists in the database.

For

This is the contact for whom the task will be performed. For example, this might be a marketing contact who asked you to send them a brochure in the mail, or it could be a client for whom you are doing design work. When you use a task tile in campaign automation, this gets set to each marketing contact that passes through the tile (there is one task per contact).

This is a Type-ahead field and must refer to a record that already exists in the database

Company

Enter the name of the company that the current record belongs to. The company must already exist in the database; type-ahead assistance is provided (or enter “%%” as a wildcard to scroll through all companies). The current record is only available for use with other relevant entities that are also associated with this same company. For example, a marketing message associated with the company Woodgrove Bank can only be sent to contacts belonging to Woodgrove Bank and included in campaigns associated with Woodgrove Bank.

Due

Specify the date the task is due. This is set to the creation date by default. Note also the following about due dates:

  • Task start dates without specific times are assumed to start on the site's default daily start time (see also Administer your site).

  • Task due dates without specific times are assumed to end on the site's default daily end time.

  • Tasks without due dates are ignored.

  • Jobs without due dates cannot be compressed or expanded.

Start Date

Specify the start date of the task. This is set to the creation date by default.

Reminder(s)

Use task reminders to flag and highlight tasks in your task list if they aren't completed by a particular date or dates. To set a reminder, select a date. The check box is selected automatically each time you edit the date. Turn off the reminder by clearing the check box. You can set up to two reminders per task.

Est. Time (hr.)

Enter the estimated duration of the task, in hours.

System_CAPS_noteNote

Click the Time Slips button or related-information tab to record and view the actual time spent completing the task.

Memo

Enter any helpful details about the task.

As mentioned in the previous section, the Status drop-down list includes several permanent entries that are associated with specific functionality and can’t be removed, but they can be renamed. One important aspect of these permanent status entries is if they set the task to active or inactive. This helps users see the most important (active) tasks. Click the show/hide inactive button Show All/Active Only button on the list view toolbar to show or hide tasks that are hidden by default due to their Status setting. The following table summarizes the permanent status entries and how they work.

Task status

Active or inactive

Description

Not started

Active

The task is active, but no work has been done.

When you start working on a task, you will typically change its status from Not Started to In Process until it is done, and then change it to Completed when complete (these are both manual operations).

Approved

Active for the Assigned To contact until read (becomes inactive on read).

Inactive for everyone else.

Marks the task as approved.

When the assigned-to contact is signed in, approved tasks will be active and unread, which highlights these tasks for inspection. After an approved task is read, the assigned-to contact will typically change the status (for example, to Completed).

Cancelled

Inactive

Marks the task as canceled, which is the same as deleting it by clicking the Delete toolbar button on the list page.

Completed

Active for the Assigned By contact until read (becomes inactive on read).

Inactive for everyone else.

Marks the task as done. This may have additional effects, like changing the status of a job the task belongs to (if any) and/or activating the next task in a sequence (by changing the next task’s status from Not Ready to Start to Not Started).

Tasks marked as complete using the toolbar or column buttons are updated to this status automatically.

When the assigned-by contact is signed in, completed tasks will be active and unread, which highlights these tasks for inspection. Once read, they become inactive to all contacts.

In Process

Active

Marks the task as started but not finished.

Not Approved

Active for the Assigned To contact until read (becomes inactive on read).

Inactive for everyone else.

Marks the task as not approved.

These tasks are hidden by default for everyone except the Assigned To contact, for whom the tasks will appear as unread (bold). Once the assigned-to contact reads a task, or marks it read, the approved task will also be hidden by default.

When the assigned-to contact is signed in, tasks that aren't approved will be active and unread, which highlights these tasks for inspection. On reading a task marked as Not-Approved, the assigned-to contact can check the status comment to find out why, and then take appropriate action.

Not Ready to Start

Depends on site setting

 

Marks tasks that should not be started, possibly because prerequisites, such as earlier tasks in a sequence, are not in place. When the preceding task in a sequence is marked as Completed, then the next task automatically changes from Not Ready to Start to Not Started.

Your administrator can decide whether Not Ready to Start tasks should appear as active or inactive for your site. This choice will depend on how your organization uses this feature to support internal processes. More information: Configure site settings

Not Started

Inactive

The task is assigned and ready to start, but no work has been done.

On Hold

Active

Marks the task as waiting, possibly to be continued or canceled at some unknown time in the future.

Waiting for Reply

Active

Similar to On Hold, but more specific because it tells the reason the task is on hold (you are waiting for a reply from someone before you can continue).

Custom values

Active

Your site administrator can create any number of custom task status values as needed to support your internal processes. The system treats these tasks as active; however, no any other special functionality can be associated with them.

For details about how to customize drop-down list values, see Create custom drop-down values and folders (Category type = Task Status).

The Details settings provide extra information about the context of the task, task sequences, and other details. Expand the Details heading to view these settings on the Task maintenance page.

Setting

Description

Type

Assign a type to the task. This value can be useful for sorting and filtering your records and for supporting internal processes or policies. Your admin can customize the values available here; see Create custom drop-down values and folders for details about how to customize drop-down values. (Category type = Task Type.)

Create Date

Displays the date when the task was created (read-only).

Completed Date

Displays the date when the task was marked as complete.

Division, Department, Program, Campaign, Event, Session, Job, Brand, Product, Opportunity, Component, Marketing Plan, Objective, and Media Plan.

Use these fields to associate the task with any of these record types. Each of these is a Type-ahead field and must refer to a record that already exists in the database.

Depending on where you are and what you're doing when you create the task, one or more of these fields might be filled in automatically to reflect the task’s context. For example, if you are working on a Campaign maintenance page and create a task on its Tasks related-information tab, then the Campaign field for the task will already show the name of the campaign you were working with when you created the task.

System_CAPS_importantImportant

Many record types, including tasks, have a Division assignment. This setting is especially powerful because it creates permanent, exclusive associations in the system that you can't reassign later. In most cases, the setting becomes read-only once you save the record (including if you save without a division assignment).

When specifying a related record (such as a campaign or event) for the current task, you can only choose records that have the same Division setting as the task itself. If you change the Division for the current task, then all settings that specify a related record that belongs to another division will be cleared.

Unlike most entities, tasks do allow you to change their Division settings after you save them. But if you do, you will also break existing connections to that task because the Division settings will no longer match.

For example, you might create a job and add a series of tasks to it. The result is a job and a series of tasks that all have the same Division, and each task lists the parent job in its Job field. But if you go back and change the Division for a child task, then that task will disappear from the job (and its Job field we be cleared).

In most cases, you shouldn't change the Division setting for a task after you have saved it.

Stage

Assign a stage to the task. This value can be useful for sorting and filtering your records and for supporting internal processes or policies. Your admin can customize the values available here; see Create custom drop-down values and folders for details about how to customize drop-down values. (Category type = Task Stage.)

Use stages to group related tasks. For example, a job might include several tasks associated with its copywriting stage.

Milestone

Assign a milestone to the task. This drop-down list shows each active milestone that is currently defined on the Milestones list page. More information: Manage milestones and tasks

Use milestones to indicate completion of a phase or stage of a project.  For example, a job may include several tasks associated with copywriting; the milestone for the copywriting stage might be the completion of the final approval task.

Change Job Status To

If your task is associated with a Job, then you can configure the current task to update the job status in response to any of the following events:

  • Task Status is changed from any value to “Complete”.

  • Task Status is changed from any value to “Approved”.

  • Task Status is changed to “Canceled” from any previous status except “Not Ready to Start”, “Canceled” or “Completed”.

  • Task Status is changed to “Not Approved” from any previous status except “Not Ready to Start”, “Canceled” or “Completed”.

Select the status that you want to assign to the parent job in response to any of the above events. Leave this setting blank to leave the parent job status as is.

System_CAPS_noteNote

This drop-down list is not shown unless a Job is assigned for the task.

Next Task

If your task is associated with a Job that includes a sequence of tasks, then select the next task in the sequence from this drop-down list. When the current task is completed, Dynamics Marketing changes the next task's status from Not Ready to Start to Not Started and it will appear on the Assigned To's task list.

System_CAPS_noteNote

If you don't see a drop-down list here, it's probably because your task does not have a Job assigned, or because the assigned job does not have any other tasks.

Often, you will organize a job by dividing it into a set of individual tasks, which you can also arrange to be completed in a specific order. Use the Next Task setting for each task associated with a job to link them together into a sequence (all tasks in a given sequence must belong to the same job).

Tasks on the Tasks tab of a project are displayed in alphabetical order by default. You can change the order in which tasks are displayed by dragging and dropping them in the order in which you want them to appear. To drag and drop, choose the task you want to move and hold the mouse button down. When the tasks are in the correct sequence, release the mouse button.

At times you may want to insert a task into an existing workflow (the set of tasks linked together). To insert Task B to an existing workflow between Task A and Task C:

  1. Go to Projects > Job Management > Jobs. Find and open the target job (or create a new one). More information: Manage jobs

  2. Open the Tasks related-information tab on your selected Jobs maintenance page.

  3. Select Task A by selecting its check box.

  4. Click the Insert button.

    Dynamics Marketing creates a new task (let’s call it Task B); Dynamics Marketing also sets the Next Task value of Task A to Task B and sets the next task value of Task B to Task C; finally Dynamics Marketing sets the Change Job Status value of Task B to the same one as Task A.

Dynamics Marketing builds a task sequence from the list of tasks that are assigned to a job. You can specify the next task to be triggered when a task completes by using its Next Task field. If any of the tasks associated with a job change the job status to completed, the status of the job is set to completed. If the tasks are associated with one or more jobs, Dynamics Marketing sequences all the tasks associated with each job, then changes the status of all the tasks to completed, and changes the job status to the value specified in the last task in the sequence. If a completed task has a Next Task assigned, the status of the next task changes to Not Started if it isn't already canceled or completed.

The job status updates automatically on completing a task if you define the new job status for in Change Job Status field of a task.

If the job status changes to completed due to a task completion, then the status of all associated tasks will be changed to completed as well (if the tasks aren't already completed or canceled). This change in turn will set the status of the job to the value specified in the last task’s Change Job Status field.

When you have one or more tasks assigned to a job and then modify that job’s start date and/or duration, then your individual tasks are automatically adjusted to accommodate the new schedule. Dynamics Marketing will adjust the various tasks’ durations, start times, and end times as logically as possible, though there are limits to what is practical, some which are enforced by the system and its settings. For complete details about workflow compression, task compression, and date shifting, see Manage jobs.

Use the task Gantt chart to see a graphical view of which tasks are running and their current status. To open it, go to Projects > Reports > Task Gantt. From here, choose a date to view and set search and filter options to narrow the display as needed.

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