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.

Getting Ready for Office 2019

You may have heard that Microsoft is releasing Office 2019 later this year, including Microsoft Project 2019 and Excel 2019.

Here at OnePager, we’re Microsoft Certified Partners, and have early access to the updates that are coming soon in Office 2019. We’ve been testing OnePager Pro with Project 2019, and are doing the same with OnePager Express and Excel 2019. This way, when Office 2019 is released to the public later this year, you can be assured of seamless upgrades on day one. Many of our enterprise customers won’t see Office 2019 for many years to come, since large organizations can be slow to upgrade, but we also know that some of our customers tend to upgrade more quickly, and we’re keeping that in mind as we complete our compatibility testing.

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GDPR and OnePager Communications

As a part of the EU’s new privacy law, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), OnePager is taking certain steps to update its communications processes.

If you are a customer that we have identified as being based in the EU, or if we could not positively verify your country of origin, you will no longer receive our monthly OnePager newsletter or any educational e-mails as of May 25th. You will continue to receive account-related e-mails such as license keys, support information, and renewal notices.
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MPUG: Consider Bringing a Portfolio to Your Next PM Job Interview

Our friends at MPUG have published my article on why project managers should create a portfolio of past projects when applying for a new PM job, instead of just the traditional resume:

Consider Bringing a Portfolio to Your Next PM Job Interview

Create a portfolio of past projects when applying for your next PM job.

In the article, I cover how to select which projects to include, and how to go about the mechanics of creating a portfolio of projects that will resonate with prospective employers. The article also includes a sample portfolio of projects to provide an illustration of what employers might be looking for.

If you’re not already an MPUG member or don’t receive their newsletter, it’s worth signing up. MPUG provides great content for the project management community, especially for those of us who spend a lot of time working with Microsoft Project.

Animated Gantt Charts

In last week’s post on project cost tracking, we happened to use an animated GIF of a OnePager Gantt chart to illustrate how project costs changed over time. Since then, several customers have reached out asking how to do the same thing.

These animated .gif files can be inserted into a SharePoint Image Web Part, PowerPoint documents, and other office documents, to be included in your reporting.

This week’s post will show you step-by-step instructions on how to animate your OnePager Gantt chart, like this:

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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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