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Tracking Project update through MPP RRS feed

  • Question

  • Hi

    I manage projects whose elapsed time is more than 1 year and MPP mostly having more than 300-500 lines. Now, my requirement is to track it through MPP so that i can monitor critical path/end date, Milestones. In our weekly team meeting where I might have 6-7 resources from whom i take update, i use excel tracking (as it takes less time than mpp) and then update mpp in my spare time but wanted to track directly in mpp as that will save my time/duplicate effort.

    Now in mpp how I track :

    1. put status date
    2. put actual start date for an activity
    3. put actual duration> calculate status date -actual start
    4. put remaining duration
    5. make sure dependencies are as soon as possible for all activities

    Now the problem i see tracking in mpp is , for a resource they only know on finish date for any activity and it's very time consuming if i start asking for  start date, actual duration etc.

    and if i need to put actual duration i need to calculate that as well. For me also, i only care about finish date and % completion get visibility and see how modifying one activity affecting subsequent activities.

    I hope i explained the situation, I am looking for some guidance for tracking mpp which is easy and less time consuming only focusing on finish date and % completion. please note, i only wanted to manage schedule through mpp to see upcoming Milestone, Critical path and end date .

    Thursday, January 11, 2018 10:42 AM

Answers

  • Nimo,

    Have been waiting to hear how you got on. Well done. In the 2nd case above, you input the actual start as the scheduled start. This is unnecessary, because mark on track will do that for you.

    In the 3rd case, you entered the actual finish date, and left it up to MSP to fill in the actual start and actual duration. It is better to address the facts in the order in which they occur. Actual start first, then actual duration, then remaining duration = 0.

    The 8th case is a bit tricky, with multiple interruptions, but is really just a variation of what we have already done. You have already seen how the status date can be used as a kind of separator. We do it in steps. Try moving the status date back to the end of the third day. Input 2 days of actual duration and then move the remaining duration to the status date. Then move the status date to the end of the fifth day. Input 3 days of actual duration and then move the remaining duration to the status date.

    I think my answers here are pretty good. If you think so, please "propose as answer".

    • Marked as answer by Nimo007 Sunday, February 11, 2018 5:06 PM
    Saturday, February 10, 2018 1:19 AM

All replies

  • I am just guessing that this is some kind of construction or engineering project.

    When you consider how little information is required to update project progress in MSP, and how easy it is to use the information properly, updating and re-scheduling should be a piece of cake.

    But the situation you describe is very common.

    It is essential  to keep some basic records. Someone has to know when a task actually started an when it actually finished. And I mean non-optional, not just nice to have; everything depends on it. If a task has actually started, but not yet actually finished, then you need the actual start and the actual duration. That takes care of the facts. Then you need to re-estimate the remaining duration.

    If you cannot obtain the necessary records and facts, you may as well give up right there. How can it be that the people who are doing the task do not know when it actually started? Maybe you should let them know that you will keep on asking the questions until you get the answers.

    Ok, you are doing some things right, and doing others the hard way.

    You have a status date. This is the essential starting point.
    Input the actual start date in the tracking table.
    You don't have to find the actual duration by calculating status date - actual start. MSP will do this for you.
    Input the actual start date and just click "mark on track". MSP fills in all of the days from the actual start up to the status date as actual duration.

    Or you can input the actual start and input the actual duration in the tracking table. If the actual duration is less than the duration between the actual start and the status date , then you will have some planned/scheduled duration in the past, relative to the status date. You will need to move this up to the status date (the move button on the ribbon) so that all scheduled duration is in the future.

    Do not focus on finish date and % complete. If you keep accurate records and address the actuals and the remaining duration they will both take care of themselves.

    Any help? I can provide an example.

    Thursday, January 11, 2018 11:17 AM
  • Thanks Trevor for reply, yes an example will help. I tried mark on track option; that will help definitely. The projects i typically manage is software development E2E life cycle. The problem here is, resources are so occupied with multiple activities they only focus on finish date;rather than when they start. As a Project manager, I just want to manage the schedule in a easiest way to see upcoming milestone and critical path through mpp.I will try to simulate with mark on track option, in the meantime if you can provide some example with some scenario, that will help definitely.

    thank you.

    Sunday, January 14, 2018 12:53 PM
  • Here is your example.

    The 8 cases pretty much exhaust the possibilities. Any other possibilities are just combinations or variants.

    The current date is today, 12/01/2018 08:00 (orange line)

    The status date is last Friday 17:00 (red Line)

    All 8 cases started off as scheduled to start Friday 05/01/2018 08:00, and 10 days duration.

    Here is the little story that goes with each of the possibilities.

    1. The task has not started, as of the status date. The entire task has been re-scheduled to start asap in the future (relative to the status date, that being today, 08:00. The duration remains 10 days.

    2. The task actually started as scheduled and was continuously in progress up to the status date.
      The remaining duration has not been changed.
    3. The task started as scheduled, was continually in progress for 5 days, and is finished.
    4. The task actually started on Monday 08/01/2018 08:00, and was continuously in progress up to the status date.
      The remaining duration has not been changed.
    5. The task actually started as scheduled, and was continuously in progress for 3 days, and then it was interrupted.
      The remaining duration has not been changed.
    6. The task actually started as scheduled and was continuously in progress up to the status date.
      The remaining duration has been changed/re-estimated at 2 days.
    7. The task actually started as scheduled and was continuously in progress up to the status date.
      The remaining duration has been changed/re-estimated at 6 days.
    8. The task actually started as scheduled, was continuously in progress for 2 days, then interrupted, then started again on the 4th day, then interrupted, then started again on the 6th day.
      The remaining duration has not been changed.

    I have included the status date as an event in the list (with a MFO date constraint) because it is a significant milestone, albeit one which will be moved to the right with every progressive update, as well as displaying it on the chart as the red vertical gridline.

    Note that there is no progress, ie actual duration, in the future, and no scheduled duration in the past.

    Any project management system worthy of the name must be able to channel the minimum amount of information that you need to do this to your desk.

    Any help?

    Monday, January 15, 2018 2:57 AM
  • I made a little mistake. The current date is today, 15/01/2018 08:00 (orange line)
    Monday, January 15, 2018 4:44 AM
  • Thanks a lot Trevor for reply, let me go through it before i can reply. Thank you.
    Monday, January 15, 2018 5:32 PM
  • Hi Trevor

    While I work on simulating all 8 options, if you can please let me know your view on linking summer task, I never used this option due to the reason that it might create curricular loop if subtask is added as dependency of summary task, do you use it? Is there any other issue linking summary task, I am thinking of using it as I have multiple summary task dependent on each other and we add subtask under summary task as we progres ;sometime it's her difficult to track.Please let me know. Thanks

    Monday, January 15, 2018 9:56 PM
  • Well, your question has now headed "off topic", but here is the answer. Never link summaries as predecessor or successor, to tasks or milestones or other summaries. Never. Ever.

    Reasons:

    1. Circular references are inevitable.
    2. It cannot be tracked properly.
    3. Obscures or distorts the critical path.
    4. Only a task or a milestone (which is just a task with zero duration) can be a predecessor or successor. Summaries aren't tasks, but just a way of organising tasks.
    5. It's lazy. You are just trying to avoid doing the work of figuring out the real predecessors and successors.
    6. It is a waste of time and effort because it will all have to be undone and done properly later anyway.
    7. Numerous others, but isn't that enough?

    Exceptions:

    Very occasionally, they can be useful, perhaps for broad-brush roughing out, but the downside reasons above mean it isn't worth it.

    There are more correct and better alternatives.

    So, how did you go with reproducing the 8 cases of progress tracking?
    Monday, January 15, 2018 11:11 PM
  • Hi Trevor

    Extremely sorry for late reply, I have simulated almost all the item; except last one and her. Most of the time i see that entering actual start date same as plan start date and then mark on track, followed by entering remaining duration is the quickest for me to update plan. As input i receive from resources are plan finish date and not remaining/actual duration. Please see and let me know your thought if any. thank you

    1. The task has not started, as of the status date. The entire task has been re-scheduled to start asap in the future (relative to the status date, that being today, 08:00. The duration remains 10 days.: I can do it from select task and then reschedule post status date. Ok
    2. The task actually started as scheduled and was continuously in progress up to the status date. The remaining duration has not been changed.: Ok, this I could simulate by entering start date and then just click mark on track

     

    1. The task started as scheduled, was continually in progress for 5 days, and is finished.> I can simulate this by just entering finish date and it will mark 100% complete

     

    1. The task actually started on Monday 08/01/2018 08:00, and was continuously in progress up to the status date. The remaining duration has not been changed.: Ok, I will put start date and mark on track
    2. The task actually started as scheduled, and was continuously in progress for 3 days, and then it was interrupted.: just add start date and actual duration 3MD The remaining duration has not been changed.
    3. The task actually started as scheduled and was continuously in progress up to the status date. The remaining duration has been changed/re-estimated at 2 days.: Ok enter actual start date, then mark on track and then change remaining dur
    4. The task actually started as scheduled and was continuously in progress up to the status date. The remaining duration has been changed/re-estimated at 6 days.: .: Ok enter actual start date, then mark on track and then change remaining dur to 6MD
    5. The task actually started as scheduled, was continuously in progress for 2 days, then interrupted, then started again on the 4th day, then interrupted, then started again on the 6th day. The remaining duration has not been changed.: I don’t know how to simulate this.

    Friday, February 9, 2018 5:38 PM
  • Nimo,

    Have been waiting to hear how you got on. Well done. In the 2nd case above, you input the actual start as the scheduled start. This is unnecessary, because mark on track will do that for you.

    In the 3rd case, you entered the actual finish date, and left it up to MSP to fill in the actual start and actual duration. It is better to address the facts in the order in which they occur. Actual start first, then actual duration, then remaining duration = 0.

    The 8th case is a bit tricky, with multiple interruptions, but is really just a variation of what we have already done. You have already seen how the status date can be used as a kind of separator. We do it in steps. Try moving the status date back to the end of the third day. Input 2 days of actual duration and then move the remaining duration to the status date. Then move the status date to the end of the fifth day. Input 3 days of actual duration and then move the remaining duration to the status date.

    I think my answers here are pretty good. If you think so, please "propose as answer".

    • Marked as answer by Nimo007 Sunday, February 11, 2018 5:06 PM
    Saturday, February 10, 2018 1:19 AM
  • Thank you Trevor.
    Sunday, February 11, 2018 5:06 PM