Amit of Boston, MA asks, “During class you are encouraging us to use the three sets of notes in Microsoft Project to help journalize information of how a project was performed. Is there a report to print these notes in a format that’s easier to read?”
Answer: Good question — and a good idea. Printing the notes can be accomplished from the standard print options as well as print options within the reporting modules of the system. You also might consider an export of the notes to Excel as a method of creating the desired reports. Lets start with an understanding where the notes can be entered and where they can be seen without customization.
Each schedule contains a field called “Notes” in Task, Resources, and Assignments. There are a couple of ways to get to each area when you want to access the fields.
For Task notes, you can double-click on any task name in a task-based view and look for the Notes tab in the Task Information box; or you can click on a task and click on the Notes icon on the standard tool bar when in a task view.
For Resource notes, you can double-click on any resource name in a resource-based view and look for the Notes tab in the Resource Information box; or you can click on a resource name then click on the Notes icon on the standard tool bar when in a resource view.
For Assignment notes, you can double-click on any resource name in the Task Usage view and look for the Notes tab on the Assignment Information tab; or you can double-click on any task name in the Resource Usage view and then click on the Notes tab on the Assignment Information tab.
What to Enter
Notes technically have no size limit, but older versions of Project didnt always print all of the data entered into the notes fields. More current versions will print the data; but it should be noted that just because you have the capability to enter endless information into the project schedule, is it really a good idea to do so? Objects may be inserted, but some objects have the ability to greatly increase file sizes. My suggestion is that you keep documents separately and use the notes fields to journalize information concerning the schedule itself, such as:
- Noting why a task was increased in duration, work, or cost.
- Noting a task that was added to the schedule and when.
- Noting the dates of baseline updating. Use the Project Summary task because this could affect the entire project. Summary tasks might be used for this in some cases as well.
- Note replacement of resources, addition of resources, or reasons why a task was delayed.
- Lessons learned, to be discussed during project close.
- Extra hyperlinks to related information and fixed cost information.
Once the data is entered, there are several ways to print them. Here are two of the print methods you could use:
- When printing the Gantt chart, task, or resource views, set the flag to print the notes on the View tab in the Print Setup form. Notes will be printed on a separate sheet using the task number to tie back to the related task.
- Choose the Report module and click Report | Reports for Project 2007 or View | Reports in earlier versions of Project. When any of the reports are edited, there are options on the detail tabs to print the notes.
You can also create a custom table for your notes report and use it for exporting to Excel.
1.View | Tables | more tables.
3.Name the table: “Task Notes Table.”
4.Click “show in menu” (to add this view to the table short list).
5.Add at least the ID column, Name column, and notes column. Other helpful columns might be Actual Start, Actual Finish, Baseline Start, Baseline Finish, work breakdown structure (WBS), etc.
Figure 1: Setting up a custom table to export data to Excel.
The resulting table will look like Figure 2.
Figure 2: The Excel results.
In Project 2003 and 2007 entries in the Name and Notes columns will word-wrap the same way that they can in Excel. However, in Project 2003 only the first 150 characters will appear in the view; the entire text will be contained on the Notes pages of reports.
Printing the Assignment notes through a view may be accessed through the Resource Usage View or the Task Usage View. Insert the column “Notes” in either of these views and you’ll get the following results:
- The resource note will appear next to the resource and the assignment notes will appear next to the assignments when viewed through the Resource Usage view.
- The task notes will appear next to the task and the assignment notes will appear next to the assignment when viewed through the Task Usage view.
To export the task notes table to Excel for a report:
1.Open the project schedule.
2.File | Save As and name the file. Designate file type at the bottom as Excel.
3.Click on Save.
4.Click Next to continue.
5.Select Data | Next.
6.Create a New Task Map (you may save it to reuse later) and click Next.
7.Type is Task. Include headers and click Next. (See Figure 3.)
8.In the center right of the form is an option to base the export on an existing table. Click on this button and select the Task Notes Table. Note how the data is filled in at the bottom. Other fields may be added if necessary. Click Next to continue.
9.Click Finish to complete the export.
Note: The export data in Excel won’t carry the WBS structure that you see in Project. It could be helpful to add the WBS number codes as one of the fields exported to Excel. The notes field in the Excel table will probably require word wrapping formatting.
Figure 3: The Task Mapping step in the export wizard.
Something you should know! When using Project Server, it’s possible to make the notes public. These notes could be seen through the Project Center and the Resource Center through Project Web Access.