About Safford Black

Safford is a versatile technology professional with a solid history of empowering emerging growth companies in a broad array of industries. His employment history includes energy industry consulting at Quorum Business Solutions, Senior Manager of Business Development and Technical Sales at telecom service aggregator GetConnected, and Vice President of Strategic Partner Management at electronic payment processor IP Commerce. Prior to his tenure as OnePager's COO, Safford was the company's Vice President of Marketing and Alliances. Safford holds a BA in Psychology and management from Rice University.

Your Project Status Date isn’t Percent Complete

Microsoft Project gives users the ability to mark that their projects are complete through a certain date:

This is a useful feature in some circumstances, but It’s debatable how appropriate this practice is in general. While it’s nice to be able to set your project as current through a certain date, many project managers agree that you can’t simply declare things as finished, just because you’ve gotten to a certain point on the calendar. Real life projects just tend to be a little more complicated than that.

Right or wrong, Microsoft Project lets you do this, so what’s behind the percent complete values that it calculates? In my sample plan, Project re-calculates my percent complete values as follows:

Those percent complete values look ok, but when you go over to the native Microsoft Project Gantt chart, there is a problem.

At first glance, it looks pretty good. All five tasks are precisely lined up so that their progress bars hit the red line that represents the status date.

But as you look closer, there’s a problem. The percent complete values in Project don’t match the progress bars on the Gantt chart. For example, the percent complete value for Task A is 70%, but if you measure the width of the progress bar in Project’s Gantt chart, pixel-by-pixel it’s 74.7%.

When you build a report in OnePager, we use the percent complete values from Project:

Compare Task A between Project and OnePager. In Project, the progress bar is right up against the status line. In OnePager, the task appears as if it’s almost a day behind schedule. Tasks B and C have the opposite problem: Project shows them as on track, while OnePager shows them as ahead of schedule.

It’s not a question of right or wrong. It’s a question of apples and oranges. The date through which your project is complete is not the same as percent complete.

If you want your progress bars in Project to match OnePager, then you need to use percent complete across the board, since it’s a more precise calculation. To do this, right click on the Project Gantt chart and choose Bar Styles:

Now, in the Bar Styles form, change your all of your progress bars to use “% Complete” instead of using “CompleteThrough”. This will create a three-way match between the numeric percent complete values in your Project file, the progress bars in the Project Gantt chart, and the progress bars in OnePager:

After clicking OK, Project will change its Gantt chart progress bars to reflect the percent complete values that you see on the left, and will match what OnePager shows as well:

So while it’s sometimes tempting to use MS Project’s ability to quickly status your plan to a certain date, it’s important to recognize that the resulting percent complete values are going to have a degree of imprecision, due to working and non-working time in your project calendar.

Understanding the Apply and OK buttons in OnePager

When you are changing your settings in OnePager (Home > Project-View Properties), you’ve probably noticed the three buttons at the bottom of the screen:

  • OK
  • Apply
  • Cancel

Everybody gets what OK and Cancel are, but Apply isn’t quite as common. In short, the Apply button lets you make changes, see them take effect, and continue to make more edits with the window still open. Keeping the window open makes it easy for you to make more changes without having to go out of Project-View Properties and then come back in:

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OnePager 6.0: Alternate Unique IDs

Our final installment in the review of what’s new in OnePager 6.0 covers new flexibility in the unique ID field for Microsoft Project and Project Server. OnePager Pro has traditionally used the Microsoft Project Unique ID or the Project Server/Project Online GUID to uniquely identify tasks in your report. Unique IDs help streamline updates, preserve custom formatting, and a lot more.

While most OnePager Pro users have done just fine with the default Unique ID or GUID options, some more advanced users have needed more flexibility to define a custom field for their unique IDs. OnePager Pro now lets users select any text field as a unique ID.

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OnePager 6.0: Unlimited Field Mappings

We’re continuing our look at the new OnePager 6.0. So far, we have explored additional text columns and custom import filters. This week, we will look at unlimited field mappings. While this particular upgrade may not have as much pizazz as the previous two, we anticipate that it will save users hours and hours of time.

If you have used OnePager for a while, you know that OnePager imports a select set of fields from Microsoft Project or Excel. While users have always been able to use their templates to control which fields are imported, OnePager had not previously given users a way to retroactively add a field to a project view, if that field wasn’t imported when the report was first created. Beginning with OnePager 6.0, users can add an unlimited number of custom fields into an existing OnePager report, even if those fields didn’t exist when the report was first created.

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OnePager 6.0: Custom Import Filters

Last week, we kicked off our release of OnePager 6.0 with an overview of additional text columns. This week, we’ll continue our discussion with a look at OnePager’s new custom filtering option.

If you’ve used OnePager for a while, you know that you can use a flag field (e.g. Flag20) to decide which tasks and milestones will be included in your report. Custom import filters take this a step further by allowing you to define rules to drive which items will be in your report. This means that you can build a OnePager report for all tasks scheduled to start in May that are assigned to your engineering team, without actually having to locate those tasks in Project or Excel first.

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OnePager 6.0: Additional Text Columns

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be publishing a series of articles that cover the major highlights of our new OnePager 6.0 release. As with all OnePager releases, we’ve made hundreds of improvements–both big and small–but this series will focus on the major themes that are most important to our customers.

The first major upgrade in OnePager 6.0 is the ability to display multiple columns of text in your report. In previous versions of OnePager, users could incorporate text in their Gantt charts through the use of one swimlane column and one “row label.” We are expanding the latter category and renaming it “text columns,” allowing for an expansion to five custom text columns, plus the swimlane column, for a total of six:

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Tasks Showing Up as Milestones?!

When is a task not a task? If you’ve ever noticed that some of your tasks in OnePager are automatically being converted to milestones, you may have asked this question. This is due to the Task/Milestone Threshold, an advanced setting in OnePager that turns short-duration tasks into milestones, with the intent of making the Gantt chart easier to read and easier to edit.

Some people love the task/milestone threshold and others hate it. There doesn’t seem to be any middle ground. In this article, we’ll explore the task/milestone threshold and help you figure out where it should be set for your project plan. Continue reading