MS Project Tips and Tricks

How to Videos

Application Settings
Set Status Date
Locate tasks for updating
Work = Units x Duration
Updating Tasks without Resource Assignments
Outline Codes for IMP/CWBS
Updating Tasks with Resource Assignments
Importing External Macros
Customize Existing Ribbon
Path Tracing (Manual Filter)
Project Compare Report
Excel Updates

Define Percent Complete
White Paper
Microsoft Project has three measures of Percent Complete: Duration percent complete (%Complete), Work Percent Complete (%Work Complete) and Physical Percent Complete (Physical%Complete).  They all mean different things. The white paper attempts to explain the differences.

Physical Percent Complete
White Paper
Once a user decides to adopt Physical Percent Complete as their Earned Value Method, this white paper gives some tips and tricks on how to change views and set the backstage properly..

What Percent Complete Should I be?
White Paper
This is probably the most common question people ask and I am amazed  why they  do not know the answer.  The answer is really a question: "What %complete did you plan to be?"  A percentage is dividing two numbers.  What is your numerator and denominator? The denominator is the key and the units have to be consistent.  Once you understand the three definitions of Percent Complete and if you are accountable to your baseline or forecast, then you can answer the question by reading the white paper.

Stoplights (Red Amber Green - RAG Indicators)
White Paper
This is pretty much up to you and are related to how much progress is being claimed on a project compared to where it should be.  This white paper explains a little bit about putting stop lights in a Project file.  You can gather some more information about "Expected Complete" for use with this calculation by reading the white paper on "What Percent Complete Should I Be"

Earned Value "S" Curves
Want to make an "S" curve for your Earned Value data? Watch these demos:
Exporting MS Project 2003 data to Excel
Preparing the Excel Data
Creating an "S" Curve in Excel is really a matter of using that Excel chart wizard.  Just remember to keep the cumulative and discrete data on two separate axes and all is well.

Schedule Status
Marching through a schedule plugging in a %Complete will not accurately status your schedule. As a matter of fact, it will more than likely damage the schedule logic. Think about the status date in relation to the task time line.  You need to concern yourself with the Actual Start date, remaining duration and remaining work.  They are the important parameters.

The four shalls:
  • There shall be no task with a start date left of status date with 0% Complete, establish a new start date if necessary.
  • There shall be no task with a finish date left of the status date that is not 100% complete, establish a new finish date if necessary.
  • There shall be no task with a %Complete>0 with a start date to the right of the status date, you did not do the work in the future.
  • There shall be no task claiming 100% Complete with a finish date to the right of the status date, the latest this task can finish is the status date.
If you do those four things, you probably have 80% of it covered.

Fixed Work Breakdown Structures
White Paper
While the WBS features in Microsoft Project are robust and powerful, sometimes it becomes necessary to create your own Work Breakdown Structure and force the program to live by an external WBS provided by stakeholders. The white paper gives step by step instructions to creating a Custom Outline Code field to assist in this situation.

Predecessor and Successor Relationships
White Paper
Most people understand the meaning of a Finish to Start relationship.  Others expand their scheduling prowess to include other dependency types such as Start to Start and Finish to Finish relationships.  This white paper discusses the relationship among these dependency types and why it is important to have traditional dependencies as well.

Risk Register and Schedule/Budget Implications
White Paper
The attached white paper discusses bi-directional tracing of risks between the Integrated Master Schedule and the program Risk Register. There are plenty of items to consider, it is more than placing an ID from a spread sheet into the schedule. There are implications to how the schedule costs, and the schedule work packages reflect the risks.

My COM Add Ins do not work

White Paper
Many times items such as the Analyze Time Scaled Data in Excel just do not seem to work properly.  This is common with the Project Compare utility as well.  The attached document shows you how to re-add (or jump start) these feature in MS Project. 

Project Day Numbering
White Paper
Project presents schedules by calendar date and this cannot be changed. It is still possible to show a schedule with a horizontal time scale of "Day 1, Day 2" and individual task dates with start and finish dates given as "Day 1" or "Day 2".  This white paper explains how to do it with two Text fields and two formulas. Project 2010 is not as  fussy with this scenario.