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Difference in Actual costs between report and task sheet is driving me nuts RRS feed

  • Question

  • Hi,

    For several reasons we have some projects were tasks are created in a year/month structure and the tasks start/finish dates brought in line with the fiscal periods.

    So we have a summary task called "January" with start date of 01-01-2018 and finish date 26-01-2018. All subtasks to this summary have the same start and finish date. "February" starts on 29-01-2018 and finishes in 23-02-2018 and so on.

    Now of course I understand that because of the tasks being in several months, this could have some effect on financial reports that report by calendar Month and I can take small differences in reporting for granted.

    But the problem that is driving me crazy is that the Actual Costs of January and February in the cost report are extremely high and March is extremely low, which does not seem logical to me.

    The cost report is a standard bar graph, based on time and shows Actual Costs and Baseline costs.

    See the below example for the difference;

    • Task: "January"; start 01-01; finish 26-01; Actual Cost: € 98.725
      Cost per month report for January; Actual Cost: € 230.570
    • Task: "February"; start 29-01; finish 23-02; Actual Cost: € 175.855
      Cost per month report for February; Actual Cost: € 214.902
    • Task: "March"; start 26-02; finish; 30-03; Actual Cost: € 196.989
      Cost per month report for March; Actual Cost: € 25.896
    • Task: "April"; start 02-04; finish; 27-04; Actual Cost: € 160.554
      Cost per month report for April; Actual Cost: € 160.721
    • Task May starts on 30-05 and finishes on 25-05 and no actuals have been entered yet

    Can anyone explain to me what is causing this massive difference in costs, when there is only overlap of maybe 3 or 4 calendar days?

    This happens to tasks where no resources or fixed costs were assigned and only Actual Costs entered. But also to tasks with resources assigned (prorated). All subtasks have the same dates as the summary tasks (double checked)

     

    Thanks in advance,

    Roel


    Thursday, May 24, 2018 1:38 PM

Answers

  • Roel - work contours can be found on assignments, in the Task Usage view you will see tasks with people names indented, those are the assignments. In the Resource Usage view you get the converse, peoples names with their assignments indented beneath their names. Double click on an assignment and you can see the Work Contour value - it is "Flat" by default meaning that work is distributed evenly over the duration of an activity.

    If the work contour is not Flat then it results in the assigned work being allocated unevenly over the duration and this could result in the cost of the task being unevenly spread even if the resource assigned has their cost accrual set to pro-rata, in such cases their cost is incurred when their work is scheduled.

    You could consider using a Task Usage view to display Actual Cost and take a look on a day by day timescale basis to determine exactly how project is allocating actual costs over time. Just right click in the time-phased area of the display, select "Detail Styles" and select Actual Cost and then check how these costs are displayed over time.


    With good wishes,

    Dominic

    Microsoft Project Evangelist

    Twitter:   LinkedIn:    Web:   

    • Proposed as answer by Dominic Moss Thursday, May 31, 2018 3:04 PM
    • Marked as answer by RoelSneiders Tuesday, June 5, 2018 5:14 PM
    Friday, May 25, 2018 8:37 AM

All replies

  • Roel,

    Reading your explanation the figures for April appear to be close to expectations (minimal difference between Actual cost for the task and the figure in your report). For January to March the disparities per month are quite marked - however the actual costs for the 3 months total 471,119 whilst the reported costs are 471,468 which again is proximate.

    Are your actual costs being incurred by resources or have you applied "Fixed Costs" to tasks? 

    What accrual method are you using? Start, Pro-Rata or End? This can be either for Fixed Costs, viewed in the Cost Table in the Gantt chart view or if for resources you should check how they are defined by checking the "Accrue At" field in a resource sheet view.

    The only other explanation I can think of would be if you have resources assigned and their Assignment Work Contour is not flat (equates to pro-rata costing).

    As the figures for 3 months combined are close there is nothing "hidden" in your plans, I know that in the past some reports would only include what was "visible" which would require filters to be removed and "all sub-tasks" displayed.


    With good wishes,

    Dominic

    Microsoft Project Evangelist

    Twitter:   LinkedIn:    Web:   


    Thursday, May 24, 2018 2:18 PM
  • Hi Dominic,

    Thank you for getting back to me.

    "April" costs are indeed inline, but when I add Actual Costs of 200K to "May".
    Cost per month report for April changes to; Actual Cost: € 170.721
    Cost per month report for May; Actual Cost: € 190.031
    Which I think is a reasonable difference.

    This project has no fixed costs, only resources (cost, work and material) all set to accrue Prorated. That is the part that is driving me crazy :) and to make sure I am not missing something there are no filters set.

    When I take a new, blank template, set all tasks up to and including "May" to completed (with no resources attached) and add 100K to each of the Months actuals I get the following;

    Cost per month report for 

    January: Actual Cost: € 115K

    Februrary:  Actual Cost: € 97K

    March: Actual Cost: € 88K

    April: Actual Cost: € 105K

    May; Actual Cost: € 95KThese variations seem correct to meWhat do you mean with; 
    "The only other explanation I can think of would be if you have resources assigned and their Assignment Work Contour is not flat (equates to pro-rata costing)." ?

    I am going away for a long weekend so my response might take some time.

    Best regards,

    Roel

    Thursday, May 24, 2018 3:22 PM
  • Roel - work contours can be found on assignments, in the Task Usage view you will see tasks with people names indented, those are the assignments. In the Resource Usage view you get the converse, peoples names with their assignments indented beneath their names. Double click on an assignment and you can see the Work Contour value - it is "Flat" by default meaning that work is distributed evenly over the duration of an activity.

    If the work contour is not Flat then it results in the assigned work being allocated unevenly over the duration and this could result in the cost of the task being unevenly spread even if the resource assigned has their cost accrual set to pro-rata, in such cases their cost is incurred when their work is scheduled.

    You could consider using a Task Usage view to display Actual Cost and take a look on a day by day timescale basis to determine exactly how project is allocating actual costs over time. Just right click in the time-phased area of the display, select "Detail Styles" and select Actual Cost and then check how these costs are displayed over time.


    With good wishes,

    Dominic

    Microsoft Project Evangelist

    Twitter:   LinkedIn:    Web:   

    • Proposed as answer by Dominic Moss Thursday, May 31, 2018 3:04 PM
    • Marked as answer by RoelSneiders Tuesday, June 5, 2018 5:14 PM
    Friday, May 25, 2018 8:37 AM
  • Hello Dominic,

    Thank you again.

    The work contour was flat, but looking at the actual costs in the timephased area I saw that for several work assignments the actual costs weren't spread out over the period, but accumulated on the first day.
    I still have no idea what caused this, but it only happened on the first 3 months and April was fine.

    Deleting the actual costs and re-entering them fixed the problem.
    Although I could swear I had already tried that.

    Thanks for the help, I had to not considered to view the actual costs in such a timephased way. another lesson learned :)

    Regards,

    Roel

    Thursday, May 31, 2018 2:56 PM
  • Hi Roel,

    I am pleased that with my assistance you have been able to resolve the issue you were encountering. 

    The ability to view information in different ways is a powerful and sometimes overlooked feature of the project scheduling tool - I am a big fan of configuring custom views to provide fresh insights and also find Grouping to be very useful when viewing Resource Sheet information.


    With good wishes,

    Dominic

    Microsoft Project Evangelist

    Twitter:   LinkedIn:    Web:   

    Thursday, May 31, 2018 3:03 PM