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[WORKFRONT COMMUNITY Q&A COFFEE BREAK] Wednesday, February 21 at 8:30am PT: Project Template & Timeline Best Practices




Do you want a chance to win Workfront swag? If you have a question to ask, a best practice, or a hot tip to share with the Workfront community on how to set up project templates, manage task constraints, apply predecessors, or anything project timeline or template related, you’ll be entered into this first-ever Community Coffee Break sweepstakes.  


Join the Workfront Customer Success Team Cynthia Boon (@CynthiaBoon), Nichole Vargas (@NicholeVargas), and Leslie Spier (@LeslieSpierfor a text-only event on the Workfront Experience League Community. The team will be interacting live for an hour, but the conversation can continue.  


Post your recommendation or question as a reply to this thread and at the end of the 1-hour Coffee Break, we’ll randomly select a winner. Please review the full sweepstakes qualifications below.


For some guidance, here are sample questions you can ask the team: 

  • How do I see all the templates associated with my project in a report or view? Right now, I’m only seeing the first one, despite multiple templates being added. 
  • I don't want my users creating new projects from scratch. Can I enable a setting to ensure all projects are created from a template?  
  • Should I schedule my projects from start or completion date?  
  • How do I set up my project timeline so that tasks fall in sequential order?  


We also strongly recommend the following resources to get you up to speed with this topic: 


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TEMPLATE TIP: Project Templates allow for ease of permissions on projects making sure all the right people have access from project conception and kick - off. If users only create projects using templates with proper sharing permissions established I very rarely have complaints for "I can't see this project".


(adding this now as I won't be available on the date of this but wanted to share why I think they are important)

I absolutely agree with this. It also helps with ensuring that others are not incorrectly being added to projects, which results in complaints to "remove me from this project".

Definitely! And saves that extra work for a Sys Admin to have to go in a "Remove permissions." Thank you!

100%. The template can drive project permissions directly in the share settings, but also if you have the template specify a Portfolio or Program. When the project is filed accordingly, it inherits the Portfolio's and, if applicable, Program's permissions. Anytime someone complains that they "can't see the project," I ask if the project is in a portfolio. That certainly incentivized by folks to file projects accordingly.

Lyndsy!  Yes!  I can't tell you how many projects were missing Portfolio and Programs, and it really messed with my Reporting, so this is fantastic.  Thank you!

We have a Fusion loop that detects the creation of a new Company record, and automatically sets up a matching Portfolio. We do a 1-1 that way, each Company only gets one Portfolio and then the team can create whatever Programs they want underneath that. 


This also enables a second clean-up Fusion loop that runs nightly to find any new projects that weren't filed in a Portfolio and fixes them. 


I automate clean data whenever/wherever possible, it's just not possible for human beings to get data entry right 100% of the time. For everything else, I have exception dashboards that show me 'tasks with inactive users', 'open issues in dead projects', 'requests/issues with no assignees' etc. Any place people can somehow miss things that cause consequences later. 

This is amazing! I love the Fusion examples.  I wasn't able to implement Fusion when I was a customer, but this definitely sounds like a dream.  Thank you for your example!

Hey Kellie! We're sorry you couldn't be here live, but thanks for the great tip! And I agree, Templates can totally help solve "project access" challenges. 


Level 4


Template Tip- We give our users permission to view templates and only sys and group admins are able to edit and create new templates. This way, we can control the number of templates and make sure all of them follow our processes and guidelines. 


We do this as well! Then when template changes are submitted to the admin queue, if there larger impacts, we bring those to our Center of Excellence/governance meetings to ensure all business stakeholders are aware of the changes. It helps with change communication and ensuring all are on the same page. We also have a field on our form denoting it's a template request change type and have the request submitters include the template name, or names, via a custom field that pulls the template name from WF. This allows us to pull those names into a report if we need to look back at who requested the change in the template and who on our admin team worked on it.


I love this! Using Workfront Request Queues to track change requests for Templates?  Mind Blown.  Thank you!


Holy wow - this is a great approach, and I never thought about that as a customer.  We did end up with a lot of Templates that had to be reviewed, so if there is a Center of Excellence or Group Admin structure, they could decide if a new Template was needed.  Thank you!


Level 4


Question(s): How are your approvals set up in your project templates? Pros/Cons?

  • We currently have ours set up as task approval loops, and they work fine for "automation" - keeping the project moving forward. However, the due dates on tasks become overdue if the task is rejected and there is no real accountability on how long it sits in the approval loop.
  • We are considering pulling the approvals out of the task and making them tasks themselves. This does make the approvals more manual in the event there are multiple rounds, but it will show more transparency as to who the project is sitting with.
    • If you set up your projects this way, do you have a dedicated team who adds the additional tasks, or does this fall onto your Project Owner? If the Project Owner, how do you know they are setting these up correctly?


We only use tasks for tracking approvals. Our project managers (project owners) are responsible for keeping the tasks updated and adding additional tasks if needed. We have created an "additional tasks widget" which is a template of only tasks for several additional rounds of edits. They can add 'additional rounds' widget to their project and that way we know the tasks are labeled and assigned correctly, and they just need to assign the right predecessor to the first task to keep things moving.



Morning! I would love more info on this widget. We are just starting with implementing Workfront, but additional review rounds is a situation we encounter regularly. Thanks much! 


I just created a very basic template with only tasks for the additional rounds of edits. No custom forms needed. Then when the PM on our side needs additional rounds, they select "attach template", and when they bring this template in, the only thing it does is adds the tasks at the end of the tasks page. Then they drag and drop them into place. Let me know if you have further questions.


Cheryl!  Thank you so much for sharing your Template example!


We do something similar, we have a template of add-on tasks to keep the task names, durations, etc all consistent.  The Project Manager can still adjust and has to add predecessors where appropriate within their project.  We also have milestones applied to the add-on tasks, so they appear in any milestone reporting we end up doing.

Yes!  Totally did this too!  I also had some that had one Task and the purpose was to add a specific Custom Form to the project.  Great tip!


Hello!  The "mini-Template" or "Task Widget" will definitely be a game changer for your users.  Having multiple Templates, one large one with "everything" but others that break down work into chunks, can save you time in the long run.  My tip - just name them in ways that make them easy to find and understand their purpose.  Thanks!



I love the "Tasks Widget" idea!  (Back in my customer days, I called them "mini-Templates.) These are so handy for the PMs to just add the tasks for the additional rounds.  Thank you!


I know you have a lot of replies, but I figured I'd share my experience on this one too. When I need a "fully accountable and traceable" approval, I typically used a Task Approval Process, so that we could pull reports on Pending and Completed Approvals.  We did have our Project Managers monitor this, but with the Pending Approvals report shared across leadership, it also helped with visibility on what was lagging.

Thanks, @CynthiaBoon! This is all helpful information! I love this Community an the willingness to share. I have a lot of homework.


Level 3


Many of our project owners have created what we call "choose your own adventure" templates. These consist of parent tasks that contain specific tasks to complete depending on specific criteria of the request. When converting from a request, the owner uses the one template, but deletes all the parent tasks in the project timeline except for the group of tasks that apply to that specific requests. The tasks are usually similar with subtle difference. The project settings are almost always the same. 


This can be confusing when promoting these templates for others to use, but it's ultimately the most efficient way to handle these kinds of requests. Are there any other thoughts on how we could accomplish this or is this practice as efficient as it can be? We'd like to avoid managing multiple templates with subtle differences.


Hi, Brent! This is an interesting way to tackle project templates. Love the idea of minimizing the number of templates that need to be maintained. 

Question for you though: Do you report on the types of projects that are being worked on? If so, how do you do that? 

I currently have it based on the Custom Form Category, but it does get a bit messy and we have way more templates than I would want.


One of my favorite Reports that I used to use was "Number of Projects per Template" - this always helped me determine what was being used most (and correctly).  The good news is that this report is included in the System Admin Maintenance Blueprint Dashboard, so if anyone doesn't have that, the report is already built.



I have some templates set up like this too! It's been working well for use cases where the core process is the same, but there might be a few different permutations of what needs to happen. I added instructions in the names of the parent tasks and clarified who can delete them, along the lines of "Parent Task Name [Editor: DELETE if no impact to ___]". With some training, it has worked really well.

We have automated the deleting of extraneous tasks using a custom form with questions and Fusion to delete tasks not needed based on the custom form answers.

That's interesting, @Brandy_Johnson! We have Fusion connected to other systems, but are just starting to look at it for Workfront to Workfront automations. Can you share your scenario setup for deleting tasks based on a custom form? My team doesn't have any developers, so we are a slow start to figuring out how Fusion can be used for certain things just within Workfront.

Love that idea of using Fusion to delete task sections not needed based on answers. I'm definitely going to look into that one. 


This! Chef's Kiss! Providing instructions within the Template itself, plus the training - that made all the difference.  (And it helped me get feedback on how effective the Templates were to users.). Thank you!


We use a similar naming convention. It's not the prettiest to look at, but it gets the job done.


I'm preparing a template right now that uses this model. It's for translations, so that a project manager can create the project and delete the countries that don't apply. What's left are tasks to track the localization and then translation of the assets.


Would love to see your translations template when it's finished!



I think it's in a decent shape to share.


Template overview

There are four categories of work: Prepare, Translate, Localization and review, Close out. The flow of work assumes that:

  1. There is a base file (in our case, the US version) that gets localized first, then translated.
  2. The localized files are sent out for translation in batch. (I've already run into some broken process that might mean this template won't work for us just yet, but let's live in an ideal world today.)



Prepare includes a task for gathering files in batch, so there are a zillion predecessors linking back to each country's localization effort. If you reduce the scope of work by deleting a bunch of countries, these predecessors automatically disappear.



Countries are clustered tasks that include localization, translation review, layout, etc. I cluster the tasks this way to make it easy for a project owner to adjust the scope of work. For example, China is out of scope? Delete the China group of tasks. Note that some countries use Queen's English, which we consider localization and therefore omit the translation effort.




I'll add my 2 cents for what it's worth?  We did have an "Everything Bagel" style Template, with sections that had "Delete this if not applicable" on the Parent Task, but what we found was a basic Template that had the non-negotiables included (along with applicable custom forms), and then a "Build your own" with add-ons.  Those templates were named carefully so that PMs could choose the relevant one quickly, and they also "favorited" the ones they used the most.  I think the best tip (which a lot of folks have posted) is to review them regularly if possible, and see what's working and what's causing heartburn.  Thank you for sharing today!!

Eventually I hope to get to the nirvana of build-your-own based on add-on templates. For now it's Everything Bagel (a nickname I'm now going to hide as an Easter egg in the template).

Because we're transitioning from Everyone Is Master to Admin is Master, we also have "blank" templates that have basic data configured, but zero tasks. Eventually I plan to deprecate these from being allowed. It's aaaaallll change management.


Level 4


We have a lot of templates that have similar tasks across them all, for example, a creative team is a shared service across multiple groups and have tasks in several group templates, our admin team uses a "master" template task report that has a prompt in it that looks for key words in the task names. Then when changes are needed, admins are catching all the tasks needing to be updated. This helps make sure we don't have tasks like "Design Round 1," "Round 1 Design," "Create Design Round 1" with different names, duration, planned hours, etc. It keeps template tasks aligned and optimized. We have a version of this for requesters submitting the changes to allow them to look at all template tasks as often times, they don't realize the scope of their proposed changes. 


Consistent task naming is something our Creatives have been begging for. That said, the second someone says to me, "I want a report on all tasks named x," I slow their roll and start talking about milestone paths. A milestone that is associated with a task can allow project owners to name tasks as they need without skewing our reports on key tasks.


This is a major eye opening tip for me! I am going to explore this further! Thank you!!



That makes sense! I can see that being 100% necessary!


For us, it was more of a challenge for the administrative team to find the tasks that needed specific forms tied to them and the names were all over the place. For example, we have stats we need captured for email sends and have tasks for email sends, and to find all those tasks to add the task form to was a challenge since the naming was all over the place. We standardized the task names at the same time we added the form and that makes it a lot easier on us to find them for future changes. 

Good Reason #81 for using templates...


Each Task created from a Template Task "knows" (via its Template Task ID) from which Template Task it originated, which means you can filter by Template Task Name (which you, as SysAdmin, control), but allow the Task Name (which PMs, as owners of the project, control) to be modified as needed...even on Tasks that are NOT tagged as milestones.


And for those of you (ok, us) who crave consistency, you can also show the Template Task Name in the report along side (or instead of) the (modified) Task Name, too.




Duuuude, thank you for connecting the dots between the task name and template task name.

That's one of my biggest pieces of advice for folks learning to build reporting in WF. If the field can be changed by an end-user, do not build reporting that relies on it not being changed. You will only wind up pulling your hair out. In reality, things like task names are SUPPOSED to be changeable - I don't want to prevent someone from adding additional clarity to it that helps the person actually doing the work. Certainly not just "because it makes my dashboards pretty". 


So, you find things about the task that are also true, but NOT changeable. The ID from the template, the template they're associated to, the ID of the custom form attached to it, the name of the task as it originally was on the template, the ID of the approval path attached to the task etc. Generally there's some sort of matrix you can combine to get it, though it does take being creative sometimes. 


I think I have one that counts the number of tasks with a particular form AND approval path attached, versus ones that just have the custom form - to catch where people are forgetting to attach the right approval path on manually added tasks. Stuff like that. 

This is sooooooo true, and I'm grateful that you posted it!  These types of reports and tracking give you PMs the autonomy to be flexible (and potentially learn to LOVE Workfront the way we love Workfront), but Sys Admins and leadership can count on accurate reporting of what's really happening with projects.  Thank you!!

Doug! Yes! For anyone that has not learned of the magical Template Task Name (versus Task Name), it will change the game and change your life! Thank you! 


Indeed. What I forgot to say is thank you for the idea of auditing task names. While I don't want to be auditing task naming all the time, it will be a great way for me to get a sense of the diversity of naming.