How to Use the Auto-Status Scheduling Feature in Microsoft Project

99 Tricks and Traps for Microsoft projectSimple Procedure for Statusing a Schedule in MS Project – Using Auto Status

The following process should be considered for people who require one simple method of statusing a schedule. This may not suit all situations especially when a project is way off plan:

  • Set the Baseline by selecting Tools, Tracking, Save Baseline….
  • Display the Baseline bars by selecting Format, Gantt Chart Wizard….
  • Display the Status Date gridline, select Format, Gridlines…, select Status Date.
  • Select Tools, Tracking, Update Project… to open the Update Project form and select Set 0% – 100 % Complete, set the date in the form to the new Status Date.
  • The project will be statused as if it has progressed exactly as planned and the Status Date should now be displayed in the bar chart.
  • Displaying the Tracking Table may assist here.
  • Now adjust the task dates by dragging the bars or entering the dates in the appropriate column; the order that the actions take place is important:
  • Complete tasks should have the Actual Start and then the Actual Finish dates adjusted, in this order, to the date that the task actually started and actually finished. If you adjust the Finish date first then the Start date, you will then have to readjust the Finish date again.
  • Completed Milestones will be changed to a Task when an Actual Finish date is entered, so only enter an Actual Start and 100% if a Milestone is complete.
  • In-Progress tasks should have the Actual Start entered first, then the task bar dragged or Duration adjusted so the finish date is where it is expected to finish, and finally the % Complete adjusted.
  • Consider using the Tracking toolbar at this point.
  • Unstarted tasks should have their logic and durations revised.
  • Add any scope changes to the schedule.
  • Save the project with a new filename and save for future reference.

Paul Harris writes training manuals for MS Project and Primavera P6 and Delivers Project Management Training Courses Throughout Australia and the world.  His books are available on Amazon and Kindle.

How to Fix Calculations Options in Microsoft Project – MS Project Tips

99 Tips and traps for microsoft project - ebookWhy Do Calculation Options – Move end of completed parts…Not Work in MS Project?

These new functions were introduced in Microsoft Project 2002 intended to assist schedulers to place the new tasks as they are added to the schedule in a logical position with respect to the Status Date. This function is difficult to use and some practice is required to make it work properly.

Here are some tips if you are unable to get it to work:

  1. Select the Tools, Options…, Calculation tab and these options are found under the Calculation options for ‘Project Name’:
  2. If the Status Date has not been set then the Current Date is used.

For all these options to operate all four of the following parameters must be met:

  • The Split in-progress tasks option in the Schedule tab must be checked, and
  • The required option on the Calculation tab must be checked before the task is added or edited, and
  • The Updating task status updates resource status option on the Calculation tab must be checked, and
  • These options may NOT be turned on and off to recalculate all tasks. The options only work on new tasks when they are added to a schedule or when a task is updated by changing the % Complete.
  • This function will ignore constraints even when the Schedule Option Tasks will always honor their constraint dates has been set.
  • This function may not be applied to existing schedules, but only to new tasks if the options are set before the tasks are added or when a task % Complete is updated.

This function has some restrictions:

  • Existing schedules may not be opened and the function applied.
  • When the Move start of remaining parts before status date forward to status date is used, it will change any Actual Start date that you have entered prior to entering a % Complete. Changing an Actual Date is not a desirable event.

Note: This option should be used with caution and users should ensure they fully understand how this function operates by statusing a simple practice schedule multiple times.

Paul Harris writes training manuals for MS Project and Primavera P6 and Delivers Project Management Training Courses Throughout Australia and the world.  His books are available on Amazon and Kindle.

How to Use Baselines to Update Your Project – MS Project Tips

ms project 2010 training manual - spiral editionUsing Baselines and Updating a Project Using Microsoft Project

After a schedule has been reviewed and approved in MS Project, it should be baselined.  Setting the Baseline copies the Early Start and Finish, the Original Duration and each resource’s Costs and Work into Baseline fields

Once the Baseline is set up in MS Project, you will be able to update your plan and compare the progress with the original plan and be able to see:

  • If the planned progress been achieved,
  • If the project is ahead or behind schedule, and
  • By how much in time and cost.

A Baseline is set by selecting Tools, Tracking, Save Baseline….

There are number of options and forms available to update project tasks after setting the Baseline.  Irrespective of which forms are used there are two main methods to update a project:

  • Auto Status the project schedule by allowing the software to automatically update the tasks, as if the project progressed exactly according to schedule. Then, if required, adjust tasks to reflect actual events and revisions, or
  • Update each task one by one.

Which Baseline Should Be Used?

After a project has progressed it may be necessary to set a new Baseline.

This may occur when the scope of a project has changed and a new baseline is required to measure progress against, but at the same time you may also want to keep a copy of the original baseline.

A new Baseline may be used to display the effect of scope changes on a plan by setting a Baseline, adding the scope change and comparing the revised schedule with the Baseline.

The Baseline data may be reviewed in some Views such as the Task Details Form, in columns and on the Bar Chart. You will be able to display the Baseline 1 to 10 and Interim Plan dates and durations in columns and as a bar on the Gantt Chart but not in the forms. Baseline 1 to 10 also do not have variance columns.

Therefore, it is recommended that the current baseline be saved as the Baseline since the data is more accessible from the Baseline than Baseline 1 to 10. Previous baselines should be copied to Baselines 1 to 10 and preserved as a record.

Eastwood Harris Supplies Project Management Training Manuals, Project Management Training Presentations and Consulting on Primavera P6 and Microsoft Project 2010 across Australia.

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How to Display a Task ID that Won’t Change in MS Project

99 Tricks and Traps for Microsoft projectHow to Display a Task ID that Will Not Change in Microsoft Project

One frustrating part of using MS Project is that the Task ID is not unique and as new tasks are inserted then the ID changes.

The Unique ID field helps resolve this issue, which is often very important in dispute resolution. Each task is assigned a Unique ID when it is created. This number is not used again in the schedule, even if the task is deleted.

There are two other columns that may be used to edit and display relationships using the Unique ID:

  1. The Unique ID Predecessor, and
  2. The Unique ID Successor.

The Task Unique ID allows users to identify easily which activities have been added or deleted or when a revised schedule has been submitted.

On the other hand, if one wants to reset the Unique ID, or hide the addition or deletion of tasks, then create a new schedule, transfer the calendars, etc. with Organizer, and copy and paste all the tasks into the new schedule.

Note : There is also a unique Resource ID and a Resource Assignment Unique ID.

Hiding Task Information in Microsoft Project

Sometimes it is desirable to hide some information in a bar or cell about a specific task.

Hiding Bars in MS Project

To hide a bar:

  1. Open Task Information from the General tab, and
  2. Check the Hide task bar option.

Hiding Text in MS Project

To hide text in one or more cells:

  1. Select the cells,
  2. Select Format, Font… to open the Font form and make the Text color the same color as the Background, which is usually white.

Eastwood Harris Supplies Project Management Training Manuals, Project Management Training Presentations and Consulting on Primavera P6 and Microsoft Project 2010 across Australia.

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Formatting Bar Text and Colors in MS Project 2010

How to Format Bar Text in Microsoft Project

Text may be placed on all bars using the Format, Bar… form or selected bars using the Format, Bar Styles… form.

Note: The length of the Bar Chart may be reduced by placing the text on top of the bar instead of the end:

formatting bar text in ms project

How to Format Bar Colors in MS Project

  • Colors are formatted in a number of forms and there is no single form for formatting all colors:
  • Nonworking time colors in the Gantt Chart are formatted in the Timescale form; double-click on the timescale.
  • Text colors are formatted in the Text Styles and Font forms, found under the Format command.
  • Gridline colors are formatted in the Gridlines form, also found under the Format command.
  • Hyperlink colors are formatted under Tools, Options…, Edit tab.
  • Timescale and Column Header colors are formatted with the system color scheme used in the Desktop, Start, Control Panel, Display option.

The Logic Lines, also known as Dependencies, Relationships, or Links, inherit their color from the predecessor’s bar color in the Gantt Chart view and may be formatted in the Network Diagram view by selecting Format, Layout….

99 Tips and traps for microsoft project - ebook

Eastwood Harris Supplies Project Management Training Manuals, Project Management Training Presentations and Consulting on Primavera P6 and Microsoft Project 2010 across Australia.

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Microsoft Project – Task Type and Effort Driven Options

Task Type and Effort Driven Options in MS Project

If you are not sure which option to use thenms project 2010 training manual - spiral edition. This option prevents changes to Task Durations and/or existing Resource assignments as Resources are added or removed from a task.

– Select Fixed Units for activities when the Units per time period must stay constant as either the Duration or Work is changed. For example, a crew of 1 Excavator and 3 Trucks must stay constant as the Duration or Work is changed.

–  Select Fixed Duration for activities when the duration must not change as either resource Units per time period or Work is changed.

–  Select Fixed Work if you wish the Work to stay constant as the duration is changed. The Task will be made Effort driven automatically with the Effort driven option grayed out.

For example, a programmer assigned full-time for a week will have 40 hours’ work. When the duration is doubled to a week, the programmer will work 50% of the time over 2 weeks but still work 40 hours.

If you assign another person to help then the total Work will remain at 40 hours and the Duration not change.

The default for new Tasks is set in the Tools, Options…, Schedule tab. Click on the  icon and new projects will have these as their default options.

Eastwood Harris Supplies Project Management Training Manuals, Project Management Training Presentations and Consulting on Primavera P6 and Microsoft Project 2010 across Australia.

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