Over the next couple months we’ll be creating some videos that outline specific tips to ensure our OnePager Express users understand the fundamentals, and what to avoid, when it comes to using Excel to create and update visuals successfully in OnePager.
Here is the first, which discusses how to structure the Excel data to work properly with OnePager Express.
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.
Many people turn to Excel when the need arises to build a simple project plan. After all, Excel lets you track dates, deliverables and budgets. But if you are planning to calculate start and finish dates in Excel with a formula, you do need to be mindful of working and non-working days.
We get asked by our OnePager Express (for Excel) users every so often how they can display critical path.
OnePager Pro inherently uses the Critical column from Microsoft Project, which calculates the critical path, to visualize those values.
Excel doesn’t calculate critical path without some intensive programming on your part, and OnePager Express isn’t set up to display critical path like OnePager Pro does (a colored bar at the top of the task bar). But, it is possible. We’ve summarized how it can be quickly done below. For more detail, you can also read our step-by-step instructions on how to build Excel Gantt charts with critical path.
I often have users ask me how I would display a level of certainty around a particular milestone or task.
The need exists because the initiative spans many years, and therefore, items in the plan set to begin, or complete, in the near future are fairly certain in terms of their target dates. However, items further out on the timeline need to be interpreted as loose estimates.
This is actually very easily accomplished in OnePager, as long as you have a column with a value that indicates the various levels of certainty you want to communicate.
Prior to using OnePager, you didn’t have to consider how much space your project plan’s task or milestone labels would consume in a chart. Regardless of how long they were, you always had to re-type them anyway into whatever other application you were using to create your reports — and most people shortened labels while retyping. But now that you’re using your actual plan data to drive your visuals, label length is a major consideration.
Take a look at the examples below. The first has very long labels, while the second uses only what is necessary for the audience to understand what the activity or milestone is. (Double-click to enlarge each image.)
Should you keep managing your projects in Excel, or make the switch to Microsoft Project?
As a company that helps people build project reports no matter what the data source, our users often come to us with questions about which tools they should use to actually manage their projects to begin with. The most common flavor of this question is:
“Should I use Microsoft Project to manage projects, or just stick with Excel”?
When you’re building a plan in Excel, especially with OnePager, automated population of data can be critical to gaining efficiency in the long-run.
Organizing, updating, visualizing, and generally making sense of your plan will all be much faster and easier if you have the data there from the beginning to leverage sorting and filtering capabilities built into Excel and OnePager.
Adding a WBS is another value that can be added to your Excel plan to help in this regard, however, having to do that manually may seem daunting. Luckily, the internet provides when it comes to Excel knowledge and we found a very nice article and template previously posted online that can might provide you an excellent start!
We get asked a LOT what OnePager can provide in terms of displaying resource and cost data. The question doesn’t come in a specific way. It really is this generic: “Can you display resource and cost data?”
Many of our OnePager users are now building what they call “Phase Gate Timelines,” where they take key milestones from their plans and line them up left-to-right in sequence for an abbreviated, but informative look at multiple projects:
OnePager can build a phase gate timeline from either Microsoft Project or Excel, as the data you need is pretty similar: