5 Essential QuickBase Tools for Project Managers

Oct 15, 2013 10:17:00 PM

Project Management is one of the most common uses of QuickBase. There are a lot of tools out there to

QuickBase Project Management Tips from VeilSun

make managing your projects easier and more effective in QuickBase. I thought it might be helpful to list some of my favorites:


1. Copy Master-Child

Once you get passed the ambiguous name, Copy Master-Child is one of the most useful free tools QuickBase has to offer.

What is it?

Copy Master-Child is a free tool from QuickBase which allows you to create project templates to use repeatedly. Once you setup a project template, it will allow you to populate the same tasks from the template into new projects you create, saving you from having to add the same tasks over and over again.

When should I use it?

This tool is best used when you have multiple projects with standard sets of tasks. For example, let’s say you have 3 types of projects in your business and each type of project has a separate set of tasks you will complete for that project type. All you have to do is setup 3 project templates with your standard tasks and then you can click a button to create these projects over and over again.

An alternate use is if you have recurring projects. For example, you repeat the same body of work for a client each month.

How do I get it?

QuickBase offers a help guide and a wizard for setting up this tool at: http://www.quickbase.com/user-assistance/#copy_master_detail.html


2. Project Builder

Obviously, at some point, we are going to try to plug some of our own tools, but bear with us because this tool can bring your Project Management QuickBase app to the next level.

What is it?

Think “Copy Master-Child” on steroids. This tool works the same as the free Intuit tool, with the following key differences:

  1. Full Control of Task Generation: Project Builder provides an interface which lets choose exactly which tasks from your templates are generated, instead of just automatically generating all tasks from your project template.
  2. Project Teams: PB lets you assign project team members to an individual project and automatically assigns generated tasks to your project team
  3. Flexibility: This is kind of a technical point, but PB makes it easier to configure how fields are populated from your project template to your live project
  4. Task Library: Also kind of technical, but PB tracks your project templates in a separate table in QuickBase from your live projects, making it easier to manage your templates and your reporting in your Projects table

For more information, see hour Project Builder product page.

When should I use it?

Use it if copy master-child doesn’t give you enough flexibility over your project templates and task generation.

How do I get it?

Project Builder takes some configuration and isn’t free. Contact me at jcosman@veilsun.com for more information.

3. Predecessors Done Right

Predecessors are a project manager’s best friend, but there is more than meets the eye to getting everything you want out of them.

What is it?

Simply put, predecessors let you chain tasks together so that the finish of one task can affect the start of another task. For example, you know that task C cannot be started until tasks A and B have been completed. If chained correctly, Task C’s start date would equal the latest projected finish date of tasks A or B.

Native QuickBase has a predecessor field type which lets you chain tasks just like this.

When should I use them?

Use predecessors when you have tasks that are dependent on the completion of other tasks.

How do I get it?

Predecessors are part of Native QuickBase, but to learn all about them, check this out: http://www.quickbase.com/user-assistance/#about_dependencies.html

A Little more about Predecessors

If you are a seasoned project manager, you might be familiar with some “project managy” terms regarding predecessors such as “successors”, “lead”, “lag”, “start-to-start”, “start-to-finish”,”finish-to-finish”, and “critical path”. Let me touch on how to achieve some of these functionalities:

  • Lead/Lag: You can add lead/lag to predecessors by adding a lead/lag field to tasks and including this in a project finish date formula.
  • Start-to-whatever: Native QuickBase only supports start-to-finish type predecessors; however, there are ways to achieve start-to-start and finish-to-finish type predecessors through table-to-table relationships. In a way, this foregoes the native QuickBase functionality, so there will be some trade off in functionality to achieve this.
  • Critical Path: Even if you don’t know what critical path is, you can certainly use this term to sound smart with your project management buddies. This too can be achieved in Quickbase through table-to-table relationships, but it often takes some sort of visualization tool “see” critical path such as our Gantt offering.

By no means did I provide a “how to” guide above, so if you want to talk further about this, feel free to email me at jcosman@veilsun.com.


4. Adding Many Resources to a Project

Let’s say you have projects with many people associated with them and you never know exactly how many people will be a part of the project. You may want to associate them so that a user only sees their own projects on a dashboard or because you want to measure over all availability of a resource.

The easiest way to accomplish this is using a list-user field on the project record; however, this falls short if you have any of the following needs:

  • Not all the people you want to track on your Project are QuickBase users
  • You want to know a resource’s “role” on the project. For example, you want to know if they are the project lead or the QA expert, or whatever.
  • You want to show metadata such as the resource’s contact information on the project.
  • You want to draw reports on resource utilization, such as how many projects an individual is working on.

What do I do?

Fear not, there is a fairly simple way to solve this using many-to-many relationships. You’ll need two additional tables in QuickBase if you don’t have them all ready:

  1. Resources table: A table where you track your employees or resources with information such as resource name and contact information
  2. Project Team table: This table will be used to connect resources to projects.

Once these are in place, you will create a relationship between the Resources table and the project team table where the resources table is the master. Then, you will create a relationship between your Projects table and your Project Team table where Projects is the master. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you can brush up here.

Once in place, you have a wide variety of options for entering and viewing your project team. You can use an embedded report and grid edit on the project form to make entering resources easy. You canadd a “Role” field on the project team record to assign the resource a role on the project or bring down information to the project team record using lookup fields. The possibilities are endless!!!!


5. Scheduler Interface

If you need to visualize how your resources are scheduled, this is the tool for you!

What is it?

VeilSun’s scheduler interface is a QuickBase add-in which lets you see and update resource schedules using a drag and drop interface.

When do I use it?

You should consider this tool when you have many resources scheduled on many different projects and you need to easily visualize and change resource schedules

Our scheduler interface takes configuration and is not free. It comes in three forms:

  • Calendar: This is a web-based calendar interface which works similar to Microsoft Outlook
  • Resource Scheduler: This is a web-based interface which shows resources side-by-side as well as their schedules in a timeline view
  • Scrum board: Best for software development firms, this scheduler allows you to visualize and re-assign work using drag and drop.

Feel free to contact Richard Roppa at richard@veilsun.com if you would like to setup a demo of any of these tools.

Congratulations on getting to the end of this marathon blog!

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James Cosman

Written by James Cosman

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