Microsoft's Clip Gallery LiveExternal Link (CGL) is updated every month with new content and a new homepage. In order to accomplish this, several people are given specific tasks to complete. These tasks are completed in succession, so each person must finish his/her task before the next person can do his/her task.

Previously, when people would complete their tasks, they would either notify the next person by email or by telling them in passing. There are several problems with this. When people are busy, they sometimes lose track of their email, intending to get to it later. In addition, when the hand-off is done in passing, distractions can easily cause people to forget that it is their turn to complete their task. There is also no easy way for the people involved in the process to know at which stage the process is without hunting around and asking others if they have handed-off yet.

(click image to zoom)
When people first come to the CGL Build Online Tool, they will see an overall progress meter that will show where the monthly process is, where it should be, and whether or not tasks are being completed on time. The task bar is broken into sections that correspond to each of the tasks and the width of each section depends on the duration alloted to each task. When the mouse pointer is put over a section, a brief description will display so that people can quickly tell which task the section corresponds to. There is a link for each process that is in progress that will show a detail page with each of the tasks. Alternatively, the sections can be clicked on which will also bring up the detail page, then it will scroll down to the particular task that was clicked.

The detail page is a check list that includes all of the tasks in the monthly process. I wanted everyone to be able to view the check off list, including people not involved in the process. This way, others can have an idea of what is going on in the group. As a result, I added security on the task level to make sure that only the person assigned to a task can check it off. As a precaution, the manager of the task owner is also able to check off the task in case the task owner isn't able to do it (i.e. the task owner is on vacation, out sick, etc.).

When a task owner checks off a task, an email is automatically sent to the owner of the current task, the owner of the next task, and the owners' managers of both. This ensures that everyone involved is aware of the progress. A task can also be rolled back in the event that a task wasn't completed correctly. This will cause an email to be sent to those involved to notify them that a task needs to be redone.

(click image to zoom)

Then, to make sure that people don't forget that it is their turn to perform a task, a daily job is run to check if any tasks are behind schedule. If a task is behind schedule, an email is automatically sent to the owner of the task and the owner's manager. Another feature is that any additional email addresses can be added to the emails that are being sent. So, if a task is for a whole team to review the updates for the month, the entire team can recieve an email, while a program manager would then be responsible for checking the task off.

If a process is not manually startd on time, it will automatically be started and the owner of the first task will be notified with an email message.

The CGL Build Online Tool allows everyone to quickly check the status of any process that is in progress, alerts people when it is their turn to perform a task, and reminds people if they are late in completing their tasks.