I have always been fascinated with commercial aviation. From the first time I saw a cockpit as a 6-year-old, wide-eyed and mouth agape on my very first flight, I have been captivated by air travel. To this day, I still find myself wondering about the various steps that it takes to get a plane from point A to point B. And, on one recent trip, I was thinking about all of the actions that the pilot and first officer must take throughout the stages of a flight – it must be hundreds, if not thousands. How are they able to keep the detailed information in an organized step-by-step process to ensure nothing is missed? I know what you’re thinking – “well Nick, they use a checklist of course”. And that was when it dawned on me that if pilots (and the commercial aviation industry as a whole) utilized an integrated task management tool, such as OneStream’s (OS) Task Manager solution – just think about how organized all of those activities could be! But enough about air travel for now…
Throughout my career as a finance and Corporate Performance Management (CPM) professional, I have worked on a number of projects aimed at reviewing and improving the financial close and/or documenting and refining the planning/budgeting process. What I would have given for an integrated task management tool in any one of those projects. The ability to add a task in an CPM solution that could take a user directly to the next required workflow step, then automatically update the status and email the responsible parties that the task had been completed? Let me tell you, that would have been life changing and it would have saved countless hours updating Excel spreadsheets, close calendars and project plans, and then emailing those out to the impacted teams. Now there is a tool that can do that and MORE!
OneStream has a perfect answer in our Task Manager XF MarketPlace Solution, one of the slickest and most tightly integrated additions to the platform at I have seen yet. Its goal? To give users a one-stop shop for managing financial processes within their OneStream application. This article will provide a brief background on the tool, key features, and implementation considerations to help our customers with a successful project.
Task Manager is available at no charge in our XF MarketPlace for all our customers and partners. It provides an streamlined look and feel that have our end users grinning from ear to ear. The Task Manager solution is a way to organize workflows and tasks both inside and outside of OneStream XF. It provides one place for Administrators and users to manage and ensure the success of their processes – be it the consolidation, planning, forecasting, reporting or any other financial processes.
Once this XF MarketPlace solution has been loaded into your application, you can begin adding new task groups and creating associated tasks in a matter of minutes. As with other XF solutions it is as simple as loading the downloaded file from XF MarketPlace into your current OneStream XF application and with a few clicks you should see the main dashboard:
Each of the charts is interactive, so if a user clicks on the bar for “Past due tasks” or clicks on the pie chart area for “High priority items,” they will be taken to information related to the associated tasks. Most end users will focus on this view and the detailed Gannt chart view seen here:
Personally, I like the Gannt view so I can see all the detailed steps and dependencies, but the main dashboard provides an excellent landing page to quickly drill into tasks, as well as provide the executive summary view. Here you can see the various task groups, associated tasks, percentage complete, start and end times, as well as have the ability to open the task to perform additional completion steps.
Task Manager is not just a close or financial planning and reporting calendar. It is navigational tool that can be used to guide an end user through any financial process that is setup in OneStream (or even outside of OneStream). The goals of Task Manager are to provide users with the following:
- Ability to reference workflows to be completed
- Assign tasks based on close or process start dates
- Allow for communication around tasks through email and comments
- Provide at-a-glance charts to see progress of upcoming, due and overdue Tasks
Let me start by saying this – there are too many features in Task Manager to cover in one article…well, an article that you would read to completion. And so, I will highlight a few that I feel will benefit our growing list of partners and customers, and that are just plain cool.
Adding a Task Group and Associated Tasks
This is the area that our group of services consultants and end-users were most impressed with. First, a task group is created, for example Actuals or Budget, and then the tasks associated with that group are added. Adding a task has been broken out into four very simple steps as you can see from the image below:
It is incredibly easy to add a new task, schedule the task, add an action and finally, add a task status. The layout and drop down lists were highly regarded as one of the “best interfaces we have seen” as one customer put it.
A user can also make task completion dependent on one (or many other) tasks in the group. Users can quickly see the status, information around when the dependent task is due, as well as to whom the dependent task is assigned. Users can also send an inquiry message directly from this screen to the Preparer of the selected dependent task.
Link to Workflow
As part of the Task Action step you can assign a workflow profile, scenario and time period. Tasks with the “Action Type” of Open Workflow are linked to actions taken within OneStream XF. The “Status” and “Approval” values for these tasks will automatically be updated as the related actions are completed within OneStream XF. From a user’s perspective, this is an AWESOME feature and one that makes navigating through a financial process setup incredibly easy.
I know what you’re thinking, this is all great, but what if I have hundreds (or thousands) of tasks to update. There are a few ways to reduce the inevitable maintenance that comes with editing properties on hundreds of tasks. This is where the “Task Mass Updates” screen comes in handy. This utility allows the user to choose the values they would like to change en masse, provide criteria for which rows to update, and a preview of the proposed changes. Users also have the option to save the changes or restore the values back to the way they were before mass changes were made.
As with all the OneStream solutions offered in XF MarketPlace, the install is straightforward and can be completed in a matter of minutes. The time and energy to implement Task Manager revolves around project planning, gathering requirements, designing and building the solution. I get it, you’re saying to yourself– “well, that sounds like any other project Nick”. Yes, you are right…in a way. The difference with implementing Task Manager lies in the amount of time designing and understanding the processes. Be prepared to spend more time documenting processes rather than building the associated tasks in Task Manager.
These questions may help you understand the number of hours required for such a project:
- How many Task Groups will be required and how many Tasks (roughly) in each?
- How granular are Tasks related to individual assignments?
- How prevalent and complex will Task Conditional Expression requirements be?
- If Tasks with the Doc Management Action Type are to be used, how many and how complex are the required document templates to be created?
- Have all the workflows been set up that you would like to integrate?
- What tasks exist both inside and outside of OneStream?
The implementation of this tool can be simple (completed in days) to very sophisticated (completed in weeks/months) and good planning goes a long way. I have spent a good amount of my career working on similar types of engagements - documenting SIPOC diagrams and gathering requirements – be prepared to capture processes!! As you have questions along the way please know that we are always here to help. Good luck!