Giving Finance and operations users and managers an intuitive way to organize and analyze tasks is critical to streamlining financial close, planning and other processes. And the updated Task Manager that’s available through the OneStream XF MarketPlace provides several new capabilities to make life easier for users and managers.
Extending the Value of OneStream with the XF MarketPlace
For those not familiar, the OneStream XF SmartCPMTM platform unifies financial consolidation, reporting, planning, analytics and data quality. The OneStream XF MarketPlace provides a wide variety of solutions customers can download, configure and deploy to extend the value of the OneStream XF platform. One of my favorite solutions has to be the Task Manager solution, and it is one of the most popular solutions in the XF MarketPlace. You can learn more about Task Manager in my prior blog post, but here’s a quick snapshot.
Task Manager Organizes Workflows
The Task Manager solution from the XF MarketPlace provides 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.
Here’s an example of the Gantt chart view of tasks available in Task Manager:
One of the cool things about the XF MarketPlace solutions is that they can be updated with new features at a rapid pace and released independently from the OneStream XF platform – just like the apps on an iPhone. You typically don’t have to wait for a new release of the platform to get new capabilities.
What’s New in Task Manager?
Not only is the latest version of Task Manager a significant update to the solution, but it can be up and running in a limited amount of time with a minimal amount of effort.
In April 2018, OneStream launched the first of two major updates to Task Manager this year. The first upgrade included the following enhancements:
- Ability to mass load Task Groups/Lists via a built-in Excel template – thus reducing the manual effort to load a task one at a time in the tool;
- Addition of two more Categories to further filter the Scorecard and Gannt view;
- Addition of Custom Task type – which can be used to satisfy many custom requirements, such as returning a value or values from an external system that will then update the status of the task
These three enhancements alone were a big leap in functionality that brought our customers a more powerful solution. However, our Product Development team wasn’t finished …not even close.
The August 2018 release of Task Manager marks the second major upgrade to one of the top downloaded MarketPlace solutions, much to the excitement of yours truly. Quite honestly, there are too many updates and upgrades that have been made in this release to cover in one article, but I would like to highlight what I believe are the most impactful for our current and prospective customers and partners.
New Reporting Capabilities
Based on feedback from our customers and partners, Task Manager now contains four reports on a new Detailed Analysis tab that help users further analyze tasks in their applications. This new tab can be accessed from the main Scorecard in Task Manager. Like the functionality that users can find in the Scorecard, two bar graph reports have been included that are drillable into pivot grids to view task details and perform various task functions. Two grid style reports have also been included where fields can be grouped and exported for further analysis.
The following reports have been included “out of the box” and leverage the same filtering capabilities currently found in both the Scorecard and Gantt views:
- Responsibility – a pivot-grid style report that shows all tasks which can be filtered, grouped and exported in a variety of formats;
- Distribution by Workday – a drillable bar chart that shows the distribution of all tasks based on the workday set in the task editor;
- Timeliness Trend – a drillable stacked bar chart that shows the current time selected as well as the five prior periods and indicates tasks that are on-time vs. late;
- Commentary – a pivot-grid style report that shows all comments which can be filtered, grouped and exported in a variety of formats.
Note: Tasks that are shown will be based on an individual’s role and security
Explicit Day Map Due Date Method and Day 0
The prior versions of Task Manager allowed only one way to configure how working days and due dates were leveraged in the tool. We call this the “derived” method and if you are a customer that is currently using this method, then you are in luck, because this functionality is still there. For customers that would like to explicitly set each working day of the close they can do so by using an Explicit Day Map list. This new functionality is HUGELY helpful, especially if the process you are capturing in Task Manager has a focus on tasks by working day. Essentially, a Task Admin can capture each working day for every time period they are loading tasks to.
Note: the image above shows a screen capture of the new Close Dates functionality as well as the new buttons that can be used to load tasks from a Microsoft Excel template.
The derived method is great for capturing tasks by calendar day while the new explicit mapping capability is perfect for organizations that focus on a true working day mentality. Working days can also be loaded through a slick Microsoft Excel import capability that is designed to save Task Admins time.
This version also provides Task Admins with the option to select if your organization uses a close day/working day zero or not. We received feedback from several customers and partners that indicated that day zero was not used. You asked - and they delivered! Please note that if you are upgrading and plan on turning the “Close Has Zero Day” function to “No” that you will have to update all of your Day 0 tasks to either Day 1 or another valid day.
Prior versions of Task Manager allowed dependencies to be created within the same Task Group. The latest version still leverages the original dependency functionality for intra-group dependencies but has a powerful new Task Type called Dependent Group, which allows a task to auto-complete based on the completion of one, many or all tasks from another Task Group.
This new functionality could be used to help an end user know when to kick-off a process or maybe to create a group of critical tasks that show the overall progress of the budget cycle. There are many ways in which this new functionality can help to increase the use and analysis of Task Manager for any process you might be implementing it for. On top of that, the Product Development team has added an expression filter feature to further define which tasks are included…they couldn’t have made it any more user-friendly!
Again, these are only 3 (or 4) of the new features available in Task Manager – there are many others for you to explore.
I encourage any current users of OneStream’s Task Manager to check out the latest version on the XF MarketPlace and look at upgrading to make sure you are realizing all the benefits that are available. If your organization hasn’t made the switch to OneStream Software yet, what are you waiting for? At OneStream we think upgrades should be simple and fast, just like updating an app on your iPhone. Now let’s Get Back to Business.
Nick Blades is a Manager with the OneStream Services team, specializing in the design and implementation of OneStream XF software. Nick has specialized in the strategy and design of financial and operational processes, systems, and leading practices. With over 13 years of financial management consulting experience focused on large-scale finance transformations and project management, Nick has worked with insurance, medical, technology, manufacturing and other Fortune 500 companies to better align processes and technology with business objectives.