I strongly recommend that PTC create a simple "Mass Update Change Need Dates" option so that project managers running a large New Product Introduction (NPI) or similar engineering project with multiple ECRs, ECNs, and/or ECTs can easily use the "Need Date" for those objects to help report on the status of those tasks against their project plan.
Use Case: A project manager wants to use Windchill need date and reporting to know how they are doing against the "Need Date" for their engineering deliverables, most of which are Drawings, CAD Models, and Parts that release on Change Tasks (a.k.a. Change Activities).
Problem: Detailed project plans frequently change as people get ahead or behind schedule. Windchill change object "Need Date" is useful to allow Windchill reports to show the status of objects relative to their need dates, but out of the box it is extremely tedious and time consuming to mass update "Need Date" on multiple ECRs, ECNs, and/or ECTs to adjust to changes in the project over time.
Solution: Create a "Mass Update Change Need Dates" feature similar to the one we created at Solar Turbines Incorporated. I have included a detailed summary of that functionality and all of the necessary code to implement this functionality, below.
Launch Point: We created a "Solar Utilities" on the Home Page to launch reports and other utilities that are not context dependent. I would expect the context "Utilities" is where this link might go if this were out of the box.
Pop Up for Data Entry: Note that the Date must be in a specific format. Also note that the list is tab separated so that it can easily copy/paste from MS Project and Excel. The assumption is that a project manager would have a list of ECT or other object numbers with a need date column to easily filter their plan to expose just those items, then allow for an easy copy/paste of the numbers and dates in the right format to mass update the need dates as the plan changes, as shown below. Note that we include the hours and minutes so that items are not "late" in Windchill reports until close of business on their "Need Date". Without entering a time, all items would appear late as of 00:00:01 on the "Need Date".
I copy/paste need dates from Excel (shown, below) or MS Project (not shown).
At this point, access control rules apply, and error handling must account for items with incorrect data formats, object numbers that do not exist, etc. Our program loads what it can, then gives the user feedback about what loaded for failed to load. The success message is shown, below.
At this point, all of the ECTs, above, have their need dates updated in accordance with changes in the project plan. Here is an example of one of those updated ECT need dates as seen from its ECN Implementation Plan.
The hours and minutes are there for reporting purposes, but you will not see them in the information pages for those change objects in Windchill. Without any explicit time set for a Need Date, the Date is assumed to be 00:00:00 on that date. We found that people did not like putting the next day as a need date, but that they did not consider themselves "late" until the end of the Need Date's business day. The use of HH:MMS solved this problem for task status reporting out of Windchill for project ECTs.
Here is the source code that we used for this customization. It is for your reference. Everyone is free to read it, and to use it at their own risk. It has worked very well for us.
Main JSP page source code, attached: ChangeObjectNeedDataUpdation.jsp (18.3 KB)
Helper Class with all of the utilities that we created to support this JSP as well as other programs: WfHelper.java (2 KB)