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tracking project RRS feed

  • Question

  • Hi ,

    Need some tips.. using microsoft project 2010 now bit confused that which table to use for project tracking

    Gantt chart or tracking Gantt, what is the difference..I feel different ppl have different opinion?

    also what is the difference between actual start/finish and start/finish date (default given in MSP); I see some people using actual

    start/finish and others are using start/finish date for tracking as both are dynamic bit confused, can someone help..

    Saturday, February 7, 2015 5:10 PM

Answers

  • Nimo007,

    The best view to use for tracking is of course a matter of preference depending on what you want to see. The Gantt Chart view is probably the most used view because it has the basic fields, but it is also very easy to customize any view by adding or deleting which fields are displayed as columns in the view. A view is made up of three parts - screen (single or combination), view table (which fields are displayed as columns), group (feature that allows you to organize row data in various ways), and filter (allows you to shows only selected rows based on certain criteria).

    When a project plan is created and ready to be executed, a baseline should be set. Project will then take several data fields (e.g. Start, Finish, Duration, Cost, etc,) and load that initial data into a set of baseline fields (e.g. Baseline Start, Baseline Finish, etc.). As the plan is executed, the working schedule will change. The Tracking Gantt is specifically designed to show the user a comparison between current schedule data (e.g. Start, Finish) and baseline data (Baseline Start, Baseline Finish).

    Your best bet is to take a look at the various views and see which one you like best for your needs. If you customize any existing view (e.g. add or delete fields), that custom view is saved with the file. It's usually better to create your own new custom view rather than modifying an existing view, although you can always restore the default setting of any built-in view.

    As I mentioned earlier, as the plan is executed, the schedule will change (i.e. tasks slip, new tasks are added, tasks are finished before the scheduled finish date, etc.). Let's say you have a two week task that was scheduled to start on 2/2/15 and complete on 2/13/15 with a single resource assigned. It's Tuesday 2/3/15 and the resource is just going to start on the task today. You would enter 2/3/15 into the Actual Start field. You will note that Project automatically adjusts the schedule to reflect what is really happening. It does that by updating the Start field to 2/3/15 and slips the finish date out to 2/16/15, assuming nothing else changes. If you switch to the Tracking Gantt view, you will be able to see the slip in the task as Project displays the baseline data against the current schedule dates.

    Hopefully this gives you a bit of a start in understanding.

    John

    Saturday, February 7, 2015 8:38 PM
  • The first thing to do is be aware of the definitions of what a view is and what a table is, and keep the distinction in mind.

    A table can be defined as a particular selected sub-set of all of the fields available for a task, arranged in a certain way. That's why there is an entry table, a cost table and a work table and so on.

    When you insert a column (field) into the entry table you are changing the design of the table "on the fly". Even adjusting the width of a column changes the design/definition of the table, since the column width is one of the attributes of the table definition. You can see the entire definition of a table by going to tables, more tables, and choose one and click the edit button.

    A view, on the other hand, does not have any fields itself but the definition of a view does include a table, so a view implies certain columns indirectly by reference to a table. If you switch from the entry table to another table, you are still in the Gantt chart view, but you have changed the definition of the view "on the fly". You can see the definition of the view by going to the drop down Gantt chart button, more views, then select one and click the edit button. You see that a view is defined by a screen, table, filter and group.

    What is not quite so obvious is that a particular view also contains everything to do with the formatting in that view, so all of the bar styles, text styles, page setup etc. So, two different views can have the same table, filter and group and yet look completely different. Nothing stops you from having the same table/filter/group in two views, say the Gantt chart view and the tracking Gantt view, and the only difference between them will be the formatting, the appearance of the display and the elements of the page setup for printing. The tracking Gantt view differs from the Gantt chart view only in that it displays the bars differently, and in particular it includes the baseline bars (grey) stacked on the "schedule" bars (red and blue), both as half thickness bars.

    When it comes to tracking progress, it is useful to have the tracking Gantt view as the active view because it has the required formatting, and the tracking table because it has the required columns/fields (so you can see what you are doing). The word "tracking" in their names is a hint. In my opinion, the tracking Gantt view needs a bit of extra formatting, such as the status date as a red vertical line on the chart, and some extra gridlines on the rows, so I also put these in.

    So when the project is planned, everything is in the future and it is all an estimate. Then when facts occur they can be input into the actuals. Once a task has actuals, they replace the scheduled (makes sense). However, this does mean that your as scheduled dates etc will disappear if they are replaced by actuals, and you may want to refer to them, so that is what a baseline is for, to preserve as scheduled before it gets replaced. The first fact which occurs for any task is that it will have an actual start date, and that column is the first column in the tracking table (after the task name). A task will also acquire actual duration, actual work, actual cost and actual finish date, all of which can replace the as scheduled as they occur.

    These steps are useful preparation for tracking (so you can see what you are doing):

    switch to the tracking Gantt view
    switch to the tracking table
    set a baseline
    set a status date
    display the status date on the chart (right click on the chart, gridlines)

    All of the actuals should be in the past, to the left of the status date.
    All of the scheduled or planned should be in the future, on the right of the status date.

    If a task is scheduled to have started in the past but has not actually started, then it should be re-scheduled to the earliest time/date when it can start, which is immediately after the status date. On the task ribbon there is a move button which allows you to move the incomplete parts (in this case all of it) to the status date.

    This is enough information to get started, but there is more to come. Let us know how you get on.

    Sunday, February 8, 2015 12:45 AM

All replies

  • Nimo007,

    The best view to use for tracking is of course a matter of preference depending on what you want to see. The Gantt Chart view is probably the most used view because it has the basic fields, but it is also very easy to customize any view by adding or deleting which fields are displayed as columns in the view. A view is made up of three parts - screen (single or combination), view table (which fields are displayed as columns), group (feature that allows you to organize row data in various ways), and filter (allows you to shows only selected rows based on certain criteria).

    When a project plan is created and ready to be executed, a baseline should be set. Project will then take several data fields (e.g. Start, Finish, Duration, Cost, etc,) and load that initial data into a set of baseline fields (e.g. Baseline Start, Baseline Finish, etc.). As the plan is executed, the working schedule will change. The Tracking Gantt is specifically designed to show the user a comparison between current schedule data (e.g. Start, Finish) and baseline data (Baseline Start, Baseline Finish).

    Your best bet is to take a look at the various views and see which one you like best for your needs. If you customize any existing view (e.g. add or delete fields), that custom view is saved with the file. It's usually better to create your own new custom view rather than modifying an existing view, although you can always restore the default setting of any built-in view.

    As I mentioned earlier, as the plan is executed, the schedule will change (i.e. tasks slip, new tasks are added, tasks are finished before the scheduled finish date, etc.). Let's say you have a two week task that was scheduled to start on 2/2/15 and complete on 2/13/15 with a single resource assigned. It's Tuesday 2/3/15 and the resource is just going to start on the task today. You would enter 2/3/15 into the Actual Start field. You will note that Project automatically adjusts the schedule to reflect what is really happening. It does that by updating the Start field to 2/3/15 and slips the finish date out to 2/16/15, assuming nothing else changes. If you switch to the Tracking Gantt view, you will be able to see the slip in the task as Project displays the baseline data against the current schedule dates.

    Hopefully this gives you a bit of a start in understanding.

    John

    Saturday, February 7, 2015 8:38 PM
  • The first thing to do is be aware of the definitions of what a view is and what a table is, and keep the distinction in mind.

    A table can be defined as a particular selected sub-set of all of the fields available for a task, arranged in a certain way. That's why there is an entry table, a cost table and a work table and so on.

    When you insert a column (field) into the entry table you are changing the design of the table "on the fly". Even adjusting the width of a column changes the design/definition of the table, since the column width is one of the attributes of the table definition. You can see the entire definition of a table by going to tables, more tables, and choose one and click the edit button.

    A view, on the other hand, does not have any fields itself but the definition of a view does include a table, so a view implies certain columns indirectly by reference to a table. If you switch from the entry table to another table, you are still in the Gantt chart view, but you have changed the definition of the view "on the fly". You can see the definition of the view by going to the drop down Gantt chart button, more views, then select one and click the edit button. You see that a view is defined by a screen, table, filter and group.

    What is not quite so obvious is that a particular view also contains everything to do with the formatting in that view, so all of the bar styles, text styles, page setup etc. So, two different views can have the same table, filter and group and yet look completely different. Nothing stops you from having the same table/filter/group in two views, say the Gantt chart view and the tracking Gantt view, and the only difference between them will be the formatting, the appearance of the display and the elements of the page setup for printing. The tracking Gantt view differs from the Gantt chart view only in that it displays the bars differently, and in particular it includes the baseline bars (grey) stacked on the "schedule" bars (red and blue), both as half thickness bars.

    When it comes to tracking progress, it is useful to have the tracking Gantt view as the active view because it has the required formatting, and the tracking table because it has the required columns/fields (so you can see what you are doing). The word "tracking" in their names is a hint. In my opinion, the tracking Gantt view needs a bit of extra formatting, such as the status date as a red vertical line on the chart, and some extra gridlines on the rows, so I also put these in.

    So when the project is planned, everything is in the future and it is all an estimate. Then when facts occur they can be input into the actuals. Once a task has actuals, they replace the scheduled (makes sense). However, this does mean that your as scheduled dates etc will disappear if they are replaced by actuals, and you may want to refer to them, so that is what a baseline is for, to preserve as scheduled before it gets replaced. The first fact which occurs for any task is that it will have an actual start date, and that column is the first column in the tracking table (after the task name). A task will also acquire actual duration, actual work, actual cost and actual finish date, all of which can replace the as scheduled as they occur.

    These steps are useful preparation for tracking (so you can see what you are doing):

    switch to the tracking Gantt view
    switch to the tracking table
    set a baseline
    set a status date
    display the status date on the chart (right click on the chart, gridlines)

    All of the actuals should be in the past, to the left of the status date.
    All of the scheduled or planned should be in the future, on the right of the status date.

    If a task is scheduled to have started in the past but has not actually started, then it should be re-scheduled to the earliest time/date when it can start, which is immediately after the status date. On the task ribbon there is a move button which allows you to move the incomplete parts (in this case all of it) to the status date.

    This is enough information to get started, but there is more to come. Let us know how you get on.

    Sunday, February 8, 2015 12:45 AM
  • Hi John/Trevor,

    Thanks for replying, so as I understood I can use Gantt view and after setting baseline I can start modifying

    start/end date rather than using actual start/end. In my projects typically I am more concerned on tracking my work completion rather than resource utilization and cost.

    Probably I didn't understand the difference between Gantt and tracking Gantt; can I use gantt instead of tracking gantt?

    probably I still didn't understand view and table concept used in MPP, I am using 2010 version :(

    ++

    Below is the summary that what I am thinking of doing while tracking..

    1. set project start date

    2. create schedule for all the tasks for my project from Gantt view

    3. set baseline so that the plan can be copied

    4. and then rather than using tracking or some other view probably use Gantt view and track start/finish date as my project progress rather than adding actual start/finish.

    5. Now if some plan changes will change the baseline to interim plan and move ahead with tracking.

    6. To check variance always I can go back to variance table and to see latest baseline always I can go back to baseline table.

    could you please suggest if there is any wrong in above steps or what kind of issue I might face following above steps?

    and for table concept, I guess it's just hiding or showing the data, not deleting it, let's say start date

    entered in entry table would automatically captured in tracking table as well, if I select that.

    I don't know while I am adding actual start/finish in tracking gantt and then going on Gantt actual

    start/finish is reflecting there as well..still not understanding the difference between these views gantt and tracking gantt.....if you guys can give some inputs..






    • Edited by Nimo007 Sunday, February 8, 2015 8:39 AM
    Sunday, February 8, 2015 6:39 AM
  • Start simple

    : Think of a table as a spreadsheet view into the database where you specify which columns to display.  Columns can be displayed or hidden.  When hidden they are still in the Project 'database' but just not visible.  If you look at the dialog box for defining a new table you can see specifically what defines a Table.  Gant and Tracking Gantt are just what Microsoft defined and put into the product as pre-defined tables

    : Think of a view as three things: a specific named table (for columns), a filter (for rows), and a group (for showing groups).  You can also  have a combination view which further controls what is viewed on the screen.  Look at the dialog box for defining a new view and you can see specifically what a view is.



    --rms www.rmschneider.com

    Sunday, February 8, 2015 4:37 PM
  • Nimo007,

    Obviously you are new to Project. Project is not very intuitive and has a rather steep learning curve. You might be well advised to get some training on how to use Project. Normally I recommend a 2 day training session with lots of hands on activity. You may be able to find training locally or on-line.

    I think between myself, Trevor and Rob, we've pretty well summed up the basics on what you asked. You mentioned that you aren't really interested in resources and cost but it's not clear if you do have resources assigned to your tasks and whether or not your tasks are arranged in a logical sequence of events (i.e. dynamic plan with dependency links between tasks). If you don't care about resources or do not have your tasks linked in a logical sequence, then I have to ask, why bother with Project? You could probably use a spreadsheet or Outlook task list to do what you need.

    However, if you do want to do actual scheduling with a dynamically linked plan, then do NOT enter dates directly into the Start and Finish fields. Doing so will cause Project to automatically set a constraint on the task, either a start-no-earlier-than constraint for the start date or a finish-no-later-than constraint for the finish date. Constraints interfere with Project's scheduling engine (i.e. they prevent Project from dynamically adjusting the schedule based on changes). By entering dates into the Actual Start and Actual Finish fields, you are simply telling Project what really happened for a particular task. No constraint is set, Project is able to update the schedule plan and the plan remains dynamic.

    John

    Sunday, February 8, 2015 5:13 PM
  • Also, carefully read in Help the definitions of the fields (columns). Some fields are input by user, some are computed by Project. Some can be both.  Reading and understanding that documentation will help clarify things.

    --rms www.rmschneider.com

    Monday, February 9, 2015 6:57 AM
  • Thanks for replying. I understand that if I enter start and finish date in start and finish field it will put constraint.<o:p></o:p>

    But let's say..I am having 20 tasks but they are not related at the same time my engineer can't complete it parallel because I only have one resource for that task so probably task would be done one by one. So while planning I need to use start and finish date in start and finish field; I should not link them and it will put constraint as well. What's your thought on this? is there any better way to handle this situation?<o:p></o:p>




    • Edited by Nimo007 Friday, February 20, 2015 1:05 PM
    Friday, February 20, 2015 1:04 PM
  • If you set up the project model in Project properly, with resources and no un-neccessarily constrained tasks, you can use Project to level the resources and reschedule everything that can't be done.  Use Project as designed instead of thinking it as an Excel spreadsheet.

    --rms www.rmschneider.com

    Friday, February 20, 2015 1:19 PM
  • Yes I agree..As we used to have more than 500 tasks in  a project, it's really impossible to plan it in excel.

    But if we have lot of unrelated task (not linked) then what's the best way to enter and track it?

    Friday, February 20, 2015 1:28 PM
  • Whether the tasks are related or not is not relevant.

    The overall process is:

    : build the schedule model. Get the tasks into the position you want either as scheduled by Project or as you put them in.

    : save as baseline

    : then for tracking, put in the Actual Start Date, and Remaining Duration. Project will compute % Complete (a couple fields here, based on work and one based on duration).

    : then reschedule all uncompleted work into the future (as it makes no sense to schedule uncomplete work in past)

     

    --rms www.rmschneider.com

    Friday, February 20, 2015 3:35 PM