This movie identifies the progress data categories used in Project including actual dates, what’s complete, and what remains to finish. It also describes the fields you can use in each category. The movie also explains the pros and cons of updating tasks versus assignments.
- [Voiceover] In Project, tasks and assignments sport all sorts of fields for recording progress. The hard part is deciding which ones to use, for the situation at hand. Before we prep a file for updating progress, let's take a look at the fields you can use, and how you can use them. Here I have my project in the Gant Chart View. First thing I'm going to do, is I'm going to switch from the summary table to the tracking table. I'm going to right-click that upper left cell, and then on the pop-up menu, click Tracking.
When I look at the fields in the Tracking table, I can see that there are three basic categories of fields for updating. The first one is actual dates. I have Actual Start, which is the date that a task actually starts. Actual Finish is the date that it actually finishes. The next category is What's Been Done. You can fill that in either using Actual Duration, or Actual Work. Actual Duration is the amount of the current schedule duration that's been completed.
Actual Work is the number of current scheduled work hours that have been performed. The third category is What's Left To Do. In this table, we have Remaining Duration. That's the estimated duration that it's going to take to finish the task. I can click the Add New column heading, and very quickly add remaining work to this table. That shows you the number of work hours that are forecast, that are going to be required to finish a task.
There's also Percent Complete. Percent Complete represents the percentage of the current schedule duration that's complete. By pointing at the heading, I can see that the formula for that is Actual Duration, divided by Duration, multiplied by 100 to get the percentage. I can also add in one other column, which is Percent Work Complete. It's a similar formula. This shows the percentage of the work that's been performed.
It's Actual Work divided by Work, multiplied by 100. Now keep in mind, if you're running an Agile project, a Sprint is either complete, or it's considered not to have started. All you have to do with an Agile project, is use either 0 percent or 100 percent, for a task that relates to a Sprint. To learn more about this topic, you can see my course on Agile Project Management with Microsoft Project.
All these progress fields are related to each other. For example, if you fill in actual duration, Project will calculate percent complete for you. On the other hand, if you put in a value in Percent Complete, Project will calculate actual and remaining duration. Now let's talk a little bit about whether you want to update Tasks or Assignments. When you update tasks, you're adding cumulative values. That means you're adding a value of, let's say, actual work that's been performed for the entire task.
That basically means that Project will roll down those values to whatever Assignments, are assigned to that Task. On the other hand, when you update Assignments, you're adding details to each Assignment. And Project takes all those details, and rolls them up to the Task level. From this, you might figure out that updating Tasks is quicker than updating Assignments. But, it's a little bit less accurate. When you want that accuracy and you update Assignments, there is a bit of a price to pay, because it's time consuming.
When you update tasks, you can use features within Project to do those updates. Or you can use a Project Import Wizard to bring data in from say, an Excel Workbook. With updating assignments, doing it manually is time consuming. So I don't recommend that. In addition, trying to use the Import Wizard is not reliable. So I don't recommend that either. The best approach is to have some kind of automated method for importing data.
There are third-party applications that you can use to bring data in from time sheets, into your project assignments. And I'll talk about those later. Or, if you're good with programming, you could put together your own Project macro, to bring data in to your file. That's quick overview of the fields and approaches you can use to update progress.
Note: This course was designed in collaboration with author John Riopel. It will show how to use Project to implement the skills taught in Project Management Fundamentals, Managing Project Budgets, and Agile Project Management with Microsoft Project. You can follow along with Project 2010, 2013, or 2016, using the free or premium versions of the exercise files.
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- Setting Project options for updating
- Building custom views for updating
- Updating and rescheduling tasks
- Updating duration, percentage complete, and work remaining
- Updating assignments
- Importing updates