been following through all my articles, you should now be in a position to
launch your project and begin to see work happening. So, this month we’ll make a
start at Tracking: or the act of progressing or tracking the progress of
the project as time goes by.
We need something to work with and we
can use the same Aircraft A project that we started using in
Microsoft Project: 17 – Multiple Projects.
I’ve reset the Project Start date to 1 Jan 06
for future use, and you can download my Aircraft A file here:
So, we’ve made our plan, levelled and
fine-tuned it to an acceptable plan and we now want to launch it. Hold on!
There’re some extra steps we should take. Project has a View/Tracking Gantt.
You will notice that it is similar to the normal Gantt Chart view, though
the bars are thinner and they all have 0% complete showing at the end of each
bar (because the project hasn’t started yet). We will need this view to see the
A baseline is a snapshot of the main
elements of the project as it is before we start. Thus, if we need to compare
progress with the starting data we must save a baseline before we update any of
the data. So let’s do that now: Tools/Tracking/Save Baseline…
…which opens the Save Baseline
dialog. For the moment, we’ll accept the default settings of Baseline for
the Entire Project, by clicking the OK button.
The effect is immediately obvious in the
Tracking Gant view as there has appeared a set of grey bars
identical to the original planned bars. These are the Baseline bars.
To see the baseline data, View/Table:
…and in the More Tables dialog,
make sure Task is selected (because we’ll be looking at a task table)
select Baseline and Apply.
Open up the table by dragging the
vertical divider line to the right.
We can see that a baseline is a set of
original Durations, Start and Finish dates, Work and
Cost estimates that we planned and have just saved. It is the primary
reference point against which we measure changes in our project. So we are now
ready to roll! Reset the Table to the Entry Table via
There are many ways to track projects,
so we’ll have a look at what’s available. First, though, we have to create a
false situation so that we can observe the effects. The project is due to start
on 1 Jan 06. Let’s suppose the first week has gone and some work has been
Set the current date to Monday 9 Jan
06 via Project/Project Information…
…and in the Project Information
dialog, either enter the 9 Jan 06 or use the calendar pick list.
The Current Date assumes a
default point in time of 0800.
Now, it takes time to get progress
information to us, and the Status Date setting allows us to enter the
date/time when the data was valid. Let’s say that the status reports reach us on
the Monday (the “today’s” date we have just set up as the Current Date)
but were completed as effective at 1700 on Friday 6 Jan 06. We
need to set this up, again though the Project/Project Information…
dialog, this time selecting or entering the Status Date. (Check that the
Current Date is still showing 9 Jan 06.)
The Status Date assumes a default
point in time of 1700.
Oh dear! Information has come in that
the aircraft was delayed by weather and it didn’t arrive until Monday 2 Jan, and
thus the project start was delayed until Tuesday 4 Jan. We need to feed that
into our schedule. So, select the Start Aircraft – A milestone
task, and then Tools/Tracking/Update Tasks…
…in the Update Tasks dialog, for
the Start Aircraft – A task, enter 3 Jan 06 (or select from the
drop down calendar) in the Actual Start: cell and then OK.
Immediately we can see the effect of the
delay. Note that the grey baseline bars do not move and the other bars show the
slippage – in this case the end date has gone out to 6 Feb 06.
Now let’s assume the work due for the
first week has been progressing and we have some measure of progress. We could
use the same Update Tasks dialog for each one, but I’d like to develop
that further another month. So, to get the information into Project quickly,
let’s use the Tracking Toolbar – right-click on a toolbar and select
…in the Customize dialog, from
the Toolbars tab, select Tracking and Close.
The Tracking toolbar should
appear amongst your toolbars.
Select Task 1 – Start Aircraft A,
then click the 100% button on the toolbar.
You’ll notice the tick appearing
in the Indicator column. If we hover the mouse over the tick,
we’ll see what is indicates.
Repeat this process giving Task 2:
100%, Task 3: 25% and Task 7: 50%. Note the “filling in” of the
planned blue/red bars to indicate progress and the % figure changing at
the end of the bars.
Effect of Task Delay
Now let’s also suppose we’ve also been
notified of a delay in the expected start of Task 4, as there some
additional parts to be assembled incurring a new estimate of Monday 16 Jan 06.
Open up the Table a little by dragging the vertical divider line to show
the Start Date column, click on the appropriate cell and type in
or select a new date of 16 Jan 06.
A Planning Wizard will give us
some self-explanatory options – select the middle one to keep the linkage. This
is important, as if its predecessor runs late, we will want this task to move
This delay will put a constraint of
Start No Earlier Than for the task, as can be seen by hovering the mouse
over the Indicator, and we can view the resultant slippage on the blue bar.
We’ve seen how to set up a baseline
before launching the project. We’ve input progress and delays, and observed the
effect on the Tracking Gantt
In the next month’s issue we’ll continue
Tracking and see some facilities to help us to revise the schedule.