Entering Actual Values for Tasks


One way to keep your schedule up to date is to record what actually happens for each task in your project. You can record each task’s actual start, finish, work, and duration values. When you enter these values, Project updates the schedule and calculates the task’s completion percentage. Project uses the following rules:

  • When you enter a task’s actual start date, Project moves the scheduled start date to match the actual start date.

  • When you enter a task’s actual finish date, Project moves the scheduled finish date to match the actual finish date and sets the task to 100 percent complete.

  • When you enter a task’s actual work value, Project recalculates the task’s remaining work values.

  • When you enter a task’s actual duration, if it is less than the scheduled duration, Project subtracts the actual duration from the scheduled duration to determine the remaining duration.

  • When you enter a task’s actual duration, if it is equal to the scheduled duration, Project sets the task to 100 percent complete.

  • When you enter a task’s actual duration, if it is longer than the scheduled duration, Project adjusts the scheduled duration to match the actual duration and sets the task to 100 percent complete.

Suppose that a few more days have passed and work on the TV commercial has progressed. In this exercise, you record actual work values for some tasks, and start dates and durations for other tasks.

  1. In the Track pane, click the Prepare to track the progress of your project link.

  2. If you have Project Professional, you’ll see an additional pane that relates to using Project Server to collect actuals from resources. In the Step 1 pane, click No, and then click Save and go to Step 2. If you have Project Standard, you won’t see this pane.

  3. Select the Always track by entering the Actual Work Done and Work Remaining option, and then click the Done link (in Project Standard) or the Save and Finish link (in Project Professional).

    Project updates the Project Guide: Custom Tracking view to the right. In the Actual Work and Remaining Work columns in the Project Guide: Custom Tracking view, you will enter actual and remaining work values of the next few tasks.

    In the chart portion of the Custom Tracking view, you can see that task 5 is currently 50 percent complete, and in the table portion of the view, you can see the resulting hour values of work that this percentage corresponds to. You want to record that the task is now complete but required more work than expected.

  4. In the Track pane, click the Incorporate progress information into the project link.

    The Incorporate Progress pane appears. Here you can set the status date and read about how to enter values in the Actual Work or Remaining Work fields. In this chapter, you won’t change the status date directly.

  5. Click the Show/Hide Project Guide button on the Project Guide toolbar.

    The Project Guide closes.

  6. In the Actual Work field for task 5, type or select 80, and then press [Enter].

    Project records that 80 hours of work have been completed on task 5. It extends the Gantt bar of the task to indicate its longer duration and reschedules subsequent tasks.

    Your screen should look similar to the following illustration:

    click to expand

    Now suppose that more time has passed. To conclude this exercise, you will enter actual start dates and durations of tasks.

  7. In the Task Name column, click task 8, Rehearse.

    This task started one working day behind schedule (the Monday after its scheduled start date) and took a total of three days to complete. You will record this information in fields that are not in the Project Guide: Custom Tracking view by default. You could insert the fields, switch to a different table that includes them, or (as you will do now) enter the values in the Update Tasks dialog box.

  8. On the Tools menu, point to Tracking, and then click Update Tasks.

    The Update Tasks dialog box appears. This dialog box shows both the actual and scheduled values for the task’s duration, start, and finish, as well as its remaining duration. In it, you can update the actual and remaining values.

  9. In the Start field in the Actual box on the left side of the dialog box, type or select 1/17/05

  10. In the Actual dur field, type or select 3d.

    click to expand

  11. Click the OK button.

    Project records the actual start date and duration of the task. Your screen should look similar to the following illustration:

    click to expand

    To conclude this exercise, you will record that task 9 started on time but took longer than planned to complete.

  12. In the Task Name column, click task 9, Shoot Video.

  13. On the Tools menu, point to Tracking, and then click Update Tasks.

    The Update Tasks dialog box appears.

  14. In the Actual dur field, type or select 3d, and then click the OK button.

    Project records the actual duration of the task. Your screen should look similar to the following illustration:

    click to expand

    Because you did not specify an actual start date, Project assumes that the task started as scheduled, but the actual duration you entered causes Project to calculate an actual finish date that is later than the originally scheduled finish date.

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Project Management Focus: Is the Project on Track?

Properly evaluating a project’s status can be tricky. Consider the following issues:

  • For many tasks, it is very difficult to evaluate a completion percentage. When is an engineer’s design for a new motor assembly 50 percent complete? Or when is a programmer’s code for a software module 50 percent complete? Reporting work in progress is in many cases a “best guess” effort and inherently risky.

  • The elapsed portion of a task’s duration is not always equal to the amount of work accomplished. For example, a task might require relatively little effort initially, but require more work as time passes. (This is referred to as a back-loaded task.) When 50 percent of its duration has elapsed, far less than 50 percent of its total work will have been completed.

  • The resources assigned to a task might have different criteria for what constitutes the task’s completion than the project manager or the resources assigned to successor tasks might.

  • Good project planning and communication can avoid or mitigate these and other problems that arise in project execution. For example, developing proper task durations and status-reporting periods should help you identify tasks that have substantially varied from the baseline early enough to make adjustments. Having well-documented and well-communicated task completion criteria should help prevent “downstream” surprises. Nevertheless, large, complex projects will almost always vary from the baseline.

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CLOSE: the Wingtip Toys Commercial 6 file.




Microsoft Office Project 2003 Step by Step
MicrosoftВ® Office Project 2003 Step by Step (Step by Step (Microsoft))
ISBN: 0735619557
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2003
Pages: 199

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