Why Should I Use an Activity Feed in Project Management Software?
Collaboration is an important part of project success. Enabling team members and stakeholders to access project information, make updates, and leave comments helps keep everyone aligned and on track without the need for micromanaging.
Unfortunately, one of the downsides of collaboration is that sometimes things are changed that shouldn’t be. Whether it was a misunderstanding or a simple mistake, it’s all too common to be reviewing your project and notice that something looks a bit off.
Maybe a task is now missing, or a date has been moved. While you can use permission settings to greatly reduce the possibility of this occurring, you cannot eliminate it entirely. After all, the mistake could have been yours!
The project management software activity feed tracks all of the changes that are made to projects in one centralized location. This acts as a consolidated activity log that allows you to quickly see what changes were made to the projects they’re involved in, and who made them.
What does an activity feed track?
The exact data tracked in an activity feed may vary depending on the project management software you select. However, here is a list of standard entries and changes that should be documented.
- Task, project, and folder creation
- Task completion
- Changes in task and project dates
- Changes in resources and assignees
- Tags and labels added or removed
- Checklist items added, completed, or removed
- Time logged on tasks
- Comments added or changed
Basically, any change that occurs within the project management software should be tracked in the activity feed.
Why is an activity feed useful?
For project managers, the project management software activity feed is incredibly useful for tracking changes on your project, particularly unintended or unapproved changes.
Some examples of unintended or unapproved changes include:
- Tasks being added without the scope being approved
- Deleting tasks
- Changing end dates
- Changing task assignees
The activity feed will help you determine both when the change occurred and who made the change. This enables you to confirm whether it was a mistake, or if there is simply a miscommunication or information missing. For instance, perhaps new tasks were approved, but the paperwork just wasn’t filed in the proper location.
Plus, since every change is consolidated and stored in one location, the activity feed is the fastest way for you to find out about the latest project updates. Within the feed, you can quickly view which tasks were progressed as well as recent comments made or edited. This visibility enables you to stay up to date on what’s going on without needing to email stakeholders or rely on status meetings.
While the activity feed is a valuable tool for tracking and auditing historical changes to the project, it can also be used as a robust collaboration tool.
Since the activity feed enables you to keep up to date with the project progress, it can act as a convenient platform for actively discussing tasks and issues in real time.
Features of an activity feed
Here are some important features and capabilities your project management software activity feed should include:
Most recent first
When viewing your activity feed, the default view should allow you to see the most recent changes and updates at the top.
For instance, the tasks and folders that were updated or commented on most recently should be the first thing you see when you navigate to the feed.
The ability to comment on any post in the activity stream is a valuable feature to seek out in your project management software. This lets you comment on updates and changes just like you can comment on posts in your Facebook newsfeed.
The feature is beneficial because if you see a change, you can instantly ask a question about it right in the feed. Then the person who made the change will get a notification about it, and be able to see exactly what change you’re referring to.
Any comments you make in the activity feed should also appear in the pane of a specific task or folder. And vice versa — all comments that your teammates leave under certain tasks will be visible in the activity stream. This allows you to have one source of the truth without ever missing a comment.
An activity feed enables you to monitor project changes in real time. If updates only happen periodically, it’s harder to stay on top of things, and the feature begins to lose its usefulness.
Look for project management software that has an activity feed that is continuously updated without needing to reload the page. This functionality will ensure you can leave the feed open without worrying about missing something or having to refresh continually.
On an active project, the activity feed can become very long, very quickly. No one wants to have to scroll through pages of data to find a change or comment from a few days ago. Not to mention that without filtering options, trying to review changes from weeks or months ago becomes nearly impossible.
Here are some standard filters that can help you navigate an activity feed:
- Filter your activity feed for for the changes and comments on all tasks and folders that you follow. (This is usually the option set by default.)
- Filter for the latest changes and comments only of the tasks that are assigned to you.
- Filter the changes and discussions of the tasks that you created, updated, or commented on at least once.
- Filter to “Hide auto updates,” so that you only see the comments and the history of file attachments in your project management software. Other updates, for example, rescheduling a task or sharing it with a new team member, will be filtered out of the view.
Since your activity feed is an easy way to check for updates and changes, it makes sense that you’re going to spend a lot of time there. But you don’t want to leave it open all the time and let it distract you from your work. Therefore, it’s important that you can quickly and easily navigate to your feed.
Ideally, you can select project management software that enables you to get to your activity feed in a variety of ways, such as through a dashboard widget and through a separate panel of your workspace.
Do you or your team use a lot of images? If so, the ability to see, review, and comment on them right in your activity feed can save you a lot of time.
Whether it’s engineering blueprints, design documents, marketing ads, or other visuals, previewing them right in the activity feed saves you from having to navigate to the task folder and open the image there.
Users will easily spot new images that are added and can discuss them right from the stream instead of clicking to switch to the task view. This makes the review process more efficient and once again helps improve collaboration and centralized communication.
Look for an activity feed that will not only allow you to preview any image attachments right in your feed but will also let you see more information about it. For instance, when you hover over the image, it should show you additional info about who attached the file, when it was added to the task, how big the file is, and the file name.