How to track the project or task time in hours

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New Contributor

Hello,
in our company we are users of Office 365 and we want to manage projects through Planner.

There is, however, a very important feature that I think is missing, a way to control the time in hours that a project or task is taking to be developed. A stopwatch that starts, pauses and stops. Put another way, we need to know in the end how many hours it took a project to be developed. Is there a way to know it in Planner? How we do?

 

As far as I know, it is only possible to define an end date, a deadline. But since we do not work on one project at a time, but on several projects at the same time, we do not know the total number of project hours.

 

I appreciate the help.

24 Replies
Short answer: No and no announcements around such feature at Ignite (You can find a good summary here: http://www.jijitechnologies.com/blogs/microsoft-planner-new-feature-announcements-ignite)...Have you considered to use Project instead of Planner?

Thanks for the quick reply Juan

 

No. Is it included with Office 365 Essentials? I can not find this application. Does the Project application have this feature?

No. Is it included with Office 365 Essentials? I can not find this application. Does the Project application have this feature?

Same here, we need to be able to record times against checklist items which should automatically total it for the tasks and roll it up against the bucket and the project. Not having time tracking makes it difficult manage resource demands.

Same request here. We need a simple "planner" with time tracking.

Hi there,

 

We have just commenced using Planner.  It is a nice tool but the lack of having project templates (or being able to copy planners) along with the ability to track time against a task do really really really diminish the product and cause one to seek alternatives :(  MS please listen.

 

Sandra

Sandra check out Apps4.Pro Planner Manager.  It lets you create templates and copy and move tasks from one plan to another.  We have one Plan that is nothing but templates.  Our people go to that plan and copy the template to the desired plan, then change the heading and assign it to a team member.

 

I'm not in any way  affiliated with the company who writes the software, I just wanted to share that it is working well for us.

 

David Novak

STF Precision

Thank you so much for sharing this information David :)  It is very much appreciated.  I will look at this further.  

 

Thanks again

Sandra

Hi,

 

I think it would be great to be able to track time using MS Planner. A couple of simple functions like a field for hours and a reporting tool would help very much.

 

Thanking you,

 

Alex

You've been able to do the same in Planner for a very long time. Including on the mobile

You can look at the Apps in Powerapps, or Make your own app.

I've created a Powerapp system that tracks times, tasks, contacts and service codes for consultants

How is it done in MS Planner?

referring to: It lets you create templates and copy and move tasks from one plan to another. 

However, with a little work, you might be able to hook up some Microsoft Flows to Planner.

Nick - you said you created a PowerApp system that tracks times and tasks, was this for Planner?

If so, anything you can share?

I spent some time on this recently because our team needed to track time on projects.  We already utilized Planner, so I didn't want to give it up because of the familiarity.  Planner utilizes the O365 group mailbox (also utilized by Teams, Sharepoint, etc.) and effectively by default sends an email almost anytime a task is edited, but specifically so every time someone in the group adds a comment to a task.  This is where the we are entering the time - the comments of the task (in decimal hours format - just the number, no words).  So if you are using the comments section for anything else, this will not work, but otherwise it works flawlessly so far.  I will give an overview of what I did in hopes this can help someone else with the same problem we faced.

 

1.  Create an excel file in your Sharepoint site with a table that has specific column headers and give it a name like Task Timekeeping...I created the column headers "Owner", "Task", "Hours", "Complete", and "Date".

 

2.  You need the correct permissions to the O365 group mailbox.  OData operations need to be enabled.

 

3.  In MS Flow (now called MS Power Automate?) you will need to use the trigger for "When a new email arrives in a shared mailbox (V2)"

 

4.  After that, you can do some nifty formatting in Power Automate in order to parse the emails sent to the group mailbox:

4.1.  Use the "Convert Time Zone" action to convert the Received time from UTC to your time zone

4.2.  Extract the task name from the subject line of the email by using an expression in the Compose action - last(split(triggerBody()?['Subject'],'task')))

4.3.  Figure out where the line breaks are in the body of the email to record the hours from the user entered comment in planner.  (It will be at the top of the email)

4.3.1  Compose action expression (renamed 'Compose NewLine') decodeUriComponent('%0A')

4.3.2  Compose action (renamed 'Compose Text') - Dynamic Content Body or Body Preview of email

4.3.3  Compose action expression (renamed 'Compose Find NewLines') - split(outputs('Compose_Text'), outputs('Compose_NewLine'))

4.3.4 Compose action expression - outputs('Compose_Find_NewLines')[0]

4.4  Find "completed" text in email body to determine if the task has been completed

4.4.1  Use Text Function - Find Text Position using Dynamic Content Body

4.4.2  Use Text Function - Substring using output of Find Text Position in previous step (Text = Body of email, Starting Position = Output of Find Text Position, Length = 9

 

5.  Add the information to your table in your Excel file by mapping the outputs from the above steps.  Use the "Add Row Into a Table" Action for Excel Online Business.

 

Now every time someone adds a comment to a Planner task, the spreadsheet will populate with the information.  Again, just make sure users are only putting in numbers in the comments field, otherwise it's going to get hairy reporting on on the total hours spent on a task.

 

You can use Power BI to actually visualize the results from the spreadsheet pretty nicely.

 

I know this a total back end, work around way of doing this - and it might not work for larger teams because the variable is that only numbers are entered into the comments section of the task - but for our team it works today.

I see this is an old thread but thought I would put my two cents in if people are looking for a simple (but a bit crude) solution.

For a task that takes 8 hrs I simple add : Hrs 08 to the tasks name (obviously change 08 to whatever your duration is.

I then export the plan to excel and in a column I add the formula =RIGHT([cell with task name],2)+0 eg =RIGHT(B2,2)+0

the +0 removes a weird error that stops the SUM formula from working.

Use =IF( ) to select only the buckets, users etc or put it in a pivot table

If you don't like the Hrs: 08 in the task name put as the last checklist item or

as just the digits (e.g. 08) in the Description as the first two characters (or the first checklist item) and use e.g. =LEFT(P2,2)+0

@Daniel_NZ_AIL This worked like a charm. THANK YOU!

@Bruno Pereira  Like you, I need more granular planning capability.  I went ahead and got Project, which allows you to enter tasks with hour and minute granularity.  Even the Online version of that app can do a lot for building your planning.  However, it still falls a bit short.  I had to build flows that integrated with the calendars and with planner to make this give me something useful.

Plannner ---  This gives you a Kanban for loading up tasks, but is limited to DAY granularity; it won't do hour\minute and it won't give you a punch-clock.  A group calendar can be used a bit like a punch clock.

Project --- This has more granularity, and can be as granular as you like.  Unfortunately, it's difficult to build an assignable kanban board, though a basic one is available for sharepoint that will link to this.

Power Automate --- I used this to automate all three or link to other services.

 

I built my plan in project, a flow built a plan in planner, showing the start and end time of each item in the name of the task.  It also built calendar events on the group calendar for each task.  Another flow activates when a task is assigned or accepted from planner, and it adds the people to the required attendees.  This sends them an email and places it on their own calendar.  When they mark the task as completed, a flow runs that marks the end time on the event on the group calendar, sends me a notification, and puts the details from the newly updated event into an excel file.  Now I know how long it took.  There's a flow that runs a few days out, telling me which items are not yet assigned in an email.  When the items are about to start, everybody gets an SMS text from a texting service, letting them know where I need them to go to get started.  Checkin and Checkout are easy enough.  I have two task lists in the group mailbox.  Every time a new person is assigned a Task in planner or they accept it, their name gets pulled from contacts and added as the name of a task.  A single person checks them in and checks them out, so now I also have a head count going in and one going out.

For tasks that require multiple people, I have to cycle through multiple copies of the same task on the kanban in planner from project.  This gets handled in my Flow.

 

There are services like Trello and similar that get as granular as you like, and they connect with Microsoft services.  There's also a connector for Power Automate for creating Flow programs to fill the boards and grab data from their elements.  I'm currently waiting on the okay from the boss for the expenditure, but if I get it, our whole crew will switch to Trello, and I'll handle all the rest on the backend with Flows I've already built.  Ultimately, having the breakdown of how long they take and when they check in and out.  This gives me a breakdown of where our toughest work comes in so I can adjust crew teams, and I can pay them all for the day.  Those who don't check out with a text or by meeting the event personnel manager can be penalized if necessary (rarely, but mostly, I just match their data to the shortest time of the day that a person spent there).

 

Microsoft built a whole set of tools for similar operations each with extremely broad targets, but none of them hit every mark.

There are KANBAN connectors for Sharepoint that allow most users of SP to view tasks from Project Pro and accept them.  This creates a Sharepoint database with all the information necessary.  In Project, you can specify plenty of information in your tasks and you can set up templates.  I have a template in Project for a basic stage setup that I use for an outreach community performing arts charity, and it ties into a set of flows I keep a template for.  I simply change a few things like the date-time of the start and the duration.  Most of the rest is already set.

@HalDavis85   This is an update to my earlier post.  I just got info back from microsoft about linking Project directly to Planner, just came out a short few months ago.  It was built in flows but not into the software on desktop etc.  So you can now create a project, save to the cloud, then use Sharepoint to link Planner to the project using the web apps.

Also, the kanban board in Planner is not a task drop board.  It keeps all tasks listed, but shows the icons for the members who have been assigned or who have accepted the task.  More is on the way, like adding color, but this function was originally there.  I guess I just didn't notice it, as I was using a sharepoint based kanban for most of my work, and only recently tried to swap it out for planner.  Please excuse my earlier post for some inaccuracy.  Dropped it on that one.

You can get granularity in Project.  This is more for a management overview, and the kanban in Planner is more for convenience of communication.

I've just been rewriting my model for planning and I rebuilt my templates.

There are also add-ons for Planner that enable time tracking, but they cost another $6-7 per user per month.

However, I've come across another way of doing this.  I've had Flows sending notifications everywhere.  You can use one to run a timer reusing a simple punch button that writes the date stamp to an excel file or a sharepoint list.  I haven't yet figured out how to add this to planner as an option in the task.  But I'll keep looking.