Color-Coding by a Custom Status field in Microsoft Project

Many of you already use OnePager’s conditional formatting to automatically assign colors to your charts based on Microsoft Project’s Status field. But what if you need status calculated differently than how Microsoft Project does it out of the box?

In this article, I’ll show you how to create your own custom status field in Microsoft Project, and then bring that into OnePager to drive the color-coding of your timeline.

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Using Separate Fields for Task vs. Milestone Text

When creating a chart in OnePager, we want to make sure that the audience knows what the tasks and milestones represent. This is why the labels in a chart are so important.

Most of the time, using the same text field from MS Project will suffice for both your tasks and your milestones, but there are situations where you need to label tasks one way and milestones another. In this article, we are going to discuss how you can import data from two different Microsoft Project fields so that you can use the first field to label your tasks and the second field to label your milestones.

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Changing Tasks to Milestones for Birds on a Wire

Many of our OnePager users like “birds on a wire” charts, which place a summary task in the background and then layer related milestones on top of the bar so that everything is in one line.

If the “birds” that are going to sit atop the “wire” are truly milestones, it’s easy. But what if the “birds” are actually tasks, and you want OnePager to display them as milestones? In other words, what if your birds on a wire chart is nothing but wires? How do you create birds when all you have are wires?

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Hybrid Gantt Chart and Timeline Layout

Most of our users are already aware that OnePager has the ability to build charts in a Gantt chart layout with each task in its own row and in a timeline layout where multiple tasks are lined up left-to-right. What if you want a hybrid approach with portions of your chart looking like a timeline and the rest looking like a Gantt chart?

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Measuring On-time Performance Across a Portfolio with OnePager

So you’ve taken many steps to get to this point: Your firm has launched a PPM tool, and your staff is trained how to use it. You’ve built a base set of standards, and are beginning to reap the benefits of having all your data in one place, reporting your initiatives, and tracking how much they truly cost. You finally have an eye on things.

But now you want to investigate whether or not you have any more deep-seated issues within your organization.

One visual that will help significantly with this is a Stacked Resource Timeline.

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Showing Checkmarks on a Gantt Chart

Traditionally, Gantt charts depict progress by showing a progress bar, or by color-coding an item green when it is complete. However, some project managers prefer to show a checkmark next to each task to indicate completion, more like a task list.


OnePager makes this easy. You only need to make a few simple changes to your Microsoft Project plan to have OnePager automatically check off tasks when you’ve completed them. Here’s how: Continue reading

Using Formulas to Filter Dates in a Master Project File

Recently we had a user ask us how they might automatically populate their flag columns to allow a configurable start and end date constraint which would capture any task that starts, finishes, or is in the middle of execution.  Essentially, the business requirements for the report looked like this:

Date Boundaries

The problem for us was the formula, as written, would not work due to the fact that we were working within a master project file with many subprojects.  Here was our simple formula, which worked in the individual subprojects, but not if you looked at them all within the master file:
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Microsoft Project Formulas: the Smart Way to Filter Tasks for OnePager Pro

Anyone who has used OnePager Pro knows that flag columns (e.g. “Flag20”) are an easy way to decide which tasks and milestones you want to include in your project report. But, what if you have a lot of tasks, and you don’t want to hand-select the important ones?

Enter the Microsoft Project formula. Instead of changing flag fields by hand, you can have a formula do it for you based on the values in your project plan.

Just like formulas in Excel, MS Project formulas can look at the data in your project plan and dynamically adjust the value of any flag, text or number column. This gives you a lot of flexibility to set up import rules, apply them to a flag field, and then have OnePager Pro automatically import the tasks and milestones that meet your criteria.

To add a formula to a flag field, just follow these steps:

1. Right-click on the flag field you want to customize and choose Custom Fields.

2. Under the Custom Attributes section, click the Formula button.

3. A formula editor will appear, allowing you to insert different fields and conditions. We’ll show you a few examples later in the post.

4. After you’ve written your formula, you will have the option to apply it to summary tasks as well. This is highly recommended, especially if you are creating an executive summary report. Our recommended setting for summary tasks is the Rollup option, with the dropdown set to “OR”. This means that if any child tasks have their flag set to yes, the summary task will be brought in as well.


5. Click OK again, and the formula will be applied to all of the tasks and summary tasks (if you chose to roll-up) in your project plan.

As the values in your project plan change, the formula will automatically update the flag column. So, for example, if you want to create a OnePager Pro chart for all tasks assigned to Randy, and you change a task’s assignment from Randy to Jack, the formula will de-flag the task, and the task will disappear from OnePager Pro when you do an update. Pretty neat, right?

Example Microsoft Project Formulas

So, what kind of formulas can you create in Microsoft Project? The sky is the limit, and you don’t have to be a developer or a propeller-head to write one. Here are some examples:

Formula: IIf([Text1]="Converter","Yes","No")

Meaning: Set the flag to yes for any tasks where the Text1 field is set to “Converter”. This is a great way to filter tasks based on a pre-determined category.


Formula: IIf([Summary]=True,IIf([Outline Level]=2,"Yes","No"),"No")

Meaning: Set the flag to yes for any summary-level tasks at outline level #2. If you want to show an executive-level summary of your project without hand-selecting summary tasks, this is a good way to quickly grab a specific level of detail.


Formula: IIf([Start]>=CDate("9/14/2013") AND [Start]<=CDate("9/28/2013"),"Yes","No")

Meaning: Set the flag to yes for any tasks that start between 9/14/2013 and 9/28/2013. This formula is good for identifying tasks that are starting during a given period of time, and can help you focus your team on what to do next.

As you can see, there are limitless possibilities when it comes to writing these formulas. Need to identify tasks that are late, over-budget, or at risk? Let your PM tools do the heavy lifting for you. The formulas in MS Project will find the tasks for you, and OnePager Pro will present them beautifully.

Need a hand writing a custom formula in MS Project for a specific purpose? Just post it here, and we’ll try to respond with some options!

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