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Using the Locked Column to Prevent Task Updates

by Dale Howard, Microsoft Project MVP


One of the challenges facing project managers who use the Microsoft PPM solution (Project Online or Project Server) is how to prevent team members from entering additional time on completed tasks. For example, two weeks ago a team member named Mickey Cobb used the Timesheet page in Project Web App to enter time on a task. The time she entered resulted in the completion of the task. Two weeks later, Mickey performs work that does not coincide with any task to which she is assigned. Being a dutiful team member, Mickey wants to enter time somewhere, so she enters the time on the task she completed two weeks earlier. This is not a good practice and should be prevented. Fortunately, Microsoft offers us two different method for locking completed tasks.


One way to prevent team members from entering additional time on a completed task is to use a feature that has been in Project Web App for many years: the Locked column. To lock a task using this feature, the project manager must do the following:

  1. Log into Project Web App with Project Manager permissions.
  2. Navigate to the Project Center page.
  3. Click the name of an enterprise project to open it as Read-Only in a web view.
  4. In the “drill down” section at the top of the Quick Launch menu, click the Schedule link to display a detailed view of the project.
  5. Click the Task tab to expand the Task Ribbon.
  6. In the Project section of the Task ribbon, click the Edit pick list button and select the In Browser item to check out the project for editing in your browser, as shown in Figure 1:
  7. In the Data section of the View ribbon, click the View pick list button and select the Close Tasks to Update view, as shown in Figure 2. This view includes the Locked column that you can use to prevent team members from entering additional time on completed tasks.
  8. In the Project section of the Task ribbon, click the Publish button.
  9. In the Project section of the Task ribbon, click the Publish button.
  10. When the publish job is completed, click the Close button in the Project section of the Task Ribbon.
  11. When prompted in a confirmation dialog, leave the Check it in value selected and then click the OK button.

As you can see from the previous set of steps, it is a lengthy process to lock completed tasks using this method. To our benefit, however, Microsoft recently introduced a new feature to speed up this process by allowing you to use the Locked column in Microsoft Project. To lock a task using this new feature, the project manager must complete the following steps:

  1. Launch Microsoft Project Professional and connect to Project Web App in the Login
  2. Open an enterprise project and check out the project for editing.
  3. Apply any task view, such as the Gantt Chart view, for example.
  4. Right-click on the column header of any column, such as the Duration column, and then select the Insert Column item on the shortcut menu.
  5. In the list of available task columns, select the Locked column.
  6. Set the Locked value to Yes for every detail task that is 100% complete, as shown in Figure 4.
  7. Save and publish the enterprise project, then close and check in the project.

I think you can see that the process for locking completed tasks is much simpler using the Microsoft Project desktop client than it is using the Project Web App user interface. Using either method will prevent your team members from adding time to each task you lock.

About Dale Howard, Director of Education, Sensei Project Solutions

Dale Howard is a seasoned training professional who is approaching 30 years of technical training experience. He has taught students how to effectively use every version of Microsoft Project beginning with version 4.0 for Windows 95, and every version of the Microsoft EPM tool beginning with Project Central in the year 2000. Dale possesses the coveted Project MVP title and is one of only 64 Project MVPs in the entire world. He is the co-author of 20 books on Microsoft Project and Project Server. Dale is known for high-energy, highly interactive style of presenting and teaching. He was voted the “Best Presenter” by conference participants at the Project Conference in 2012.








About Sensei Project Solutions

Sensei Project Solutions, a Finalist for the 2017 Microsoft Project and Portfolio Management (PPM) Partner of the Year, focuses on bringing Instant Productivity to your team. Our mission is to help individuals and organizations be more productive so that they can achieve their greatest potential. As a Gold certified Microsoft Partner and Registered Education Provider (R.E.P.) with the Project Management Institute (PMI®), Sensei offers a complete set of services and products for a successful Microsoft PPM deployment. Our guiding principles for Proactive PPM follow best practices and industry standards aligned with the Project Management Institute (PMI) and Gartner, enabling organizations to manage resource demand, obtain business intelligence that facilitates better decision making, increase business effectiveness by easily connecting people, and become self-sufficient with PPM processes and solutions. In short, Sensei helps organizations achieve Instant Productivity.

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