Since its initial release over two years ago, users of Microsoft Project 2013 have probably been using several powerful new features in the software, including the new Dashboard Reports feature and the new Task Path feature. However, if you’re using Microsoft Project 2013 (or thinking of using it), did you know that there are 11 new task filters added to the software as well?
If you’ve never heard about this, it’s because Microsoft has never “tooted its horn” about them. In fact, most users have probably not discovered these new filters because none of them is available on the default list of filters shown in either the Filters or Highlight pick lists in the View ribbon. These new filters are only visible to you if you display the More Filters dialog shown in the following figure. To display this dialog, click the View tab to display the View ribbon. In the Data section of the View ribbon, click the Filter pick list and select the More Filters item.
Four of these new task filters are useful during the planning stage of your project when you need to perform a quality assurance operation on your project prior to going live. These include:
- No Resource Assigned;
- Overallocated Tasks;
- Summary Tasks with Assigned Resources; and
- Tasks with Durations < 8h.
I think you would agree that we should not assign resources to summary tasks, so now you know you have a new default filter that can help you spot this potential problem: the Summary Tasks with Assigned Resources filter!
Five of the new task filters are useful during the executing stage of your project for generating reports:
- Completed Milestones;
- Milestones Due This Month;
- Tasks Due This Week;
- Tasks Starting Soon; and
- Upcoming Milestones.
With a few clicks of the mouse, you can now see every completed milestone in your project, no matter how large your project.
Two new task filters are also useful during the Executing stage of your project but specifically for troubleshooting purposes:
- Late Milestones; and
- No Actuals filters.
You can use the Late Milestones filter to display every milestone task that should have been completed by the Status date of the project but weren’t.
Included with the 11 new filters is a powerful new filtering technology as well. You can see this new filtering technology if you display the Filter Definition dialog for the Milestones Due This Month filter, as shown in the following figure. To display this dialog, select the Milestones Due This Month filter in the More Filters dialog and then click the Edit button. You’ll see it on the third line of the filtering criteria.
Notice that the filter is testing if the Finish date of the task is less than or equal to the end of the month. In the Value(s) column, see how the test is written as “End of the month is:”? In all versions of Microsoft Project prior to the 2013 version (Project 2010 and earlier), using that particular string of text in the Value(s) column would cause the software to display a dialog every time you applied the filter, requiring you to enter the last day of the current month manually.
In Microsoft Project 2013, however, using that particular string of text in the Value(s) column causes Microsoft Project to read the date in the Current Date field and to use that date to determine the last day of the current month. For example, if today is Monday, June 8, Microsoft Project determines that the last day of this month is June 30. Once the software determines the last day of the month, it applies the filter criteria shown in the Filter Definition dialog. So, if you were to apply the Milestones Due This Month filter on June 8, Microsoft Project 2013 would display every incomplete milestone task whose Finish date is June 30 or earlier.
Once you understand this new filtering technology, you can use it to create your own custom filters. For example, by copying the Tasks Due This Week filter and making a few simple modifications, you could quickly create two new personal filters. One filter would show you tasks starting this month. For example, the following figure shows how I created a custom _Tasks Starting This Month filter. Notice in the dialog how I specified the tests for the Start date by entering the “Start of the month is:”? text and the “End of the month is:”? text in the Value(s) column.
The other custom filter would show you tasks that are scheduled to finish this month. For example, the following figure shows how I created a custom _Tasks Due This Month filter. Again, notice in the dialog how I specified the tests for the Finish date by entering the “Start of the month is:”? text and the “End of the month is:”? text in the Value(s) column.
Note: After experimenting with this new filtering feature, I have discovered to my disappointment that you’re limited to testing only for the current week and the current month in your custom filters. I tried building custom filters to test for the current quarter and the current year, but these filters don’t use the new functionality. Instead, they use the old functionality and display dialogs asking me to enter the start of the quarter or year manually and the end of the quarter or year. In spite of these limitations, I believe you’ll be able to create some useful custom filters using this powerful new filtering technology!
A version of this article originally appeared on the Sensei Project Solutions blog.