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.
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.
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:
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.
Short answer: Never.
Long answer: Summary tasks are a collection of one or more child tasks. By definition, a summary task doesn’t represent any real work, resources, or deliverables, so summary tasks are neither on nor off the critical path of a project. Children of summary tasks can be on the critical path, assuming those children are not summary tasks themselves.
We get it: you’re lazy (or really efficient, depending on your point of view).
You’ve just kicked off a new project and have been tasked with building a new Microsoft Project schedule from the ground up. The thing is, your new project is so similar to the last project that you managed, that you’re tempted to copy your old project plan over, change a few dates and tasks, and call it done.
Everybody does it. Continue reading
Critical Path comes up frequently in our interactions with our customers. Most executives we speak with still use the term Critical Path to describe “the most important stuff.” But those of us who are trained project managers and schedulers know that’s not exactly right.
Have you ever walked into a project status meeting, proud of how all of your deliverables are on track, only to have someone ask you why the phase or project-level summary task shows that you are behind schedule? Everything you’ve been tasked with doing is on time, but for some reason, the summary shows that you are weeks or months behind.
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.
We often receive this question within our support interactions: “Why doesn’t my % Complete bar match today’s date?”