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Microsoft Project (2003) Tracking progress

Posted on 2010-11-18
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Last Modified: 2012-06-27
There are countless articles showing how to set a Baseline plan and then using the Tracking Gantt to see how the project is doing. What I'm looking for is something a little bit different.

I have a project planned out and a baseline set. Every week I will ask resources how they're coming along with tasks and I use '% Complete' to track their progress.

So far, everything I'm describing has been tutorialed to death.

Now here's the part I need help with.

Suppose in my plan, Task A had a duration of 1 week and as a result was set to end on December 1.

Today is November 25 and I mark Task A as 100% complete. Task A is now complete ahead of schedule!

Task B is dependent on Task A. So now Task B should be able to start! Task C is dependent on Task B so Task C should also be able to start earlier and so on.

I would like to see a view where the task start and end dates either move forward or back to show me how the project is ahead of schedule or experiencing slippage.

As you consider your answer, please bear in mind that we are not using constraints on dates, just task dependencies. If a task finishes early, the next task can begin right away.
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Question by:tomaugerdotcom
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4 Comments
 
LVL 35

Expert Comment

by:Bembi
ID: 34183110
not quite sure, if I understand your question...

If you have saved a baseline, you see the current shedule beside the base shedule within the tracking gant chart.
These values are stored in the columns "Baseline start" and "Start", you can insert these columns into your view.

If you want something like a indicator value, you can add a custom field with a formula, which calculates [Start] - [Baseline start] to calculate the movement.
 
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LVL 14

Author Comment

by:tomaugerdotcom
ID: 34185792
Thanks for the response - I haven't played with calculations yet, but I fear that won't have the results I'm looking for.

Can you envision a scenario where you are updating a task, say on the Friday at the end of the week, and your baseline plan says Task X should be complete as of Friday end of day, but you are only 50% complete - so there are 16 out of 32 hours left to do?

Once I update my project, and I put 50% in the "% Complete column, I would expect Project to adjust my Gantt chart, showing me that the project is now 2 days behind schedule (and showing me that my ultimate delivery date is now two days later).

How do you get MSP to show you this? And if it's not possible, how to PMs get this info? (ie: what's the new delivery date?)
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LVL 35

Accepted Solution

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Bembi earned 2000 total points
ID: 34200762
Project calculates values in the background, also for tracking values. If you enter a value for the completion of a task, ms project just calculates the depending values like remaining work or duration. What ms project can not know is, when the task as really started and for which day the percentage complete is valid. The project manager has usually to correct this values. If there is remaining work, which is different to the value, which was planned, the project manager has to enter it manually.

Lets say this in a differnt way: The project manager enters, what he knows, and MS project calcualtes, what can be safe calulated. MS project can calculate the remaining work, if you enter the done work what means in fact (remaining work = planned work - done work). MS Project can not calcualte fact, which are not in a mathematical relation to each other.

But, if you have a look into Extras - Options, there is a setting, that you can move automatically remaninng work to the status date. If you enable this, project assumes, that remaining work never can happen in the past and therefore moves the remaining work into the future.

Maybe this automatism may help you to realize, what you describe. Nevertheless you have to take care, that the project status date is actual.

The general problem with this automatism is, that you usually do not get the actual values for all running task at the same time. So in the reality, the status date may be different from task to task, dependend when you get a response from your resources.

The  only real working solution (in my mind) is using project server with daily worktime tracking via project web access. This method stores automatically the real start dates and booking dates, when a resource is resporting the work. And as a consewunce, the reamining work has to be after the time, the resource made the last booking.
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LVL 14

Author Closing Comment

by:tomaugerdotcom
ID: 34212917
Outstanding. Pointing me to the Tools > Calculations tab was the ticket! I was able to dig out this (surprisingly helpful) bit from Microsoft Project 2003 help:

Two check boxes on the Calculation tab of the Options dialog box (Tools menu) affect how Project schedules actuals and remaining duration. If you change these settings, Project does not move the actual or remaining work at all; work remains where it was originally scheduled, even if you report that the work was completed several weeks earlier than scheduled.

In addition to the two main status date settings, you can select two other settings on the Calculation tab to further change the way Project schedules based on the status date.

First, consider tasks that are scheduled after the status date, and have actuals entered against them. If the Move end of completed parts after status date back to status date check box is selected, then if a task is scheduled after the status date and you enter actuals against it, Project moves the actual, completed portion of the task so that the completed work ends on the status date, and any remaining work remains scheduled to begin in the future. Therefore, if the status date is set to today, and you enter actuals, the work is assumed to finish today, not in the future. But the remaining work is not expected to start until the future:

If the Move start of remaining parts before status data forward to status date check box is selected, you can also select the And move start of remaining parts back to status date check box. With both check boxes selected, Project moves the entire task around the status date, to show that work was done on the task and completed as of the status date and remaining work is continuing as of the status date:

Next, consider tasks that are scheduled before the status date and that have actuals entered against them. If the Move start of remaining parts before status data forward to status date check box is selected, then if a task is scheduled before the status date and you enter actuals against it, Project leaves the actual portion of the task as scheduled, but moves any remaining work to the status date. Therefore, if the status date is set to today and you enter actuals, the work is assumed to have been completed when it was scheduled, but it is assumed that the remaining work will begin immediately instead of in the past (before the status date):

If the Move start of remaining parts before status date forward to status date check box is selected, you can also select the And move end of completed parts forward to status date check box. With both check boxes selected, Project moves the entire task around the status date, to show that work was done on the task and completed as of the status date and that remaining work is continuing as of the status date:

These controls are particularly useful when you want to see "ahead of schedule" progress lines. They're also useful for changing how earned value is accrued.
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