Author: Angelo Arcoleo

Angelo Arcoleo, PMP,  brings over 30 years of experience in engineering, project management, planning and training. He leads projects and teams to plan and execute critical projects utilizing his experience, quiet-leadership, passion and versatility to work with anyone. He is a professionally trained civil engineer and has a bachelor of science degree from Rochester Institute of Technology. Angelo is a Master Scheduler for Harris Corp., formerly Exelis, in the Geospatial Systems Division. He holds an Orange Belt in Microsoft Office Project and is President of the Western New York Chapter of MPUG and a training consultant.

Where’s My Group Field Name?

Recently I was building an old standard view in a new project. The view spec displayed the grouped custom field name in the group bar. When I grouped by Work Area (Fig. 1), the field name disappeared (Fig. 2)! When I asked a couple of proficient users, what am I doing wrong? They gave a couple possible explanations. One thought was that Project versions were different and the feature changed. Then we thought that the old view may be corrupted and was not displaying properly; and to refresh the view with a new setup! When I copied the view from someone whose view displayed the way I wanted, with the field name on the group-bar; I immediately realized what was different! It wasn’t that the Project versions were different, nor an issue of view corruption. It is the fact that when a Lookup is applied to a grouped field, Project ignores the field name. If I suspend the lookup, by selecting the “None” radio button (Fig. 3), I get the field name I expected (Fig. 4)! Now I know why my Group Field Name disappeared! Figure 1. Grouped Field (Text1) with Custom attributes – Lookup Table Figure 2. Group Custom Field (Text1) with Custom attributes – no group field name showing on bar Figure 3. Custom Fields with Custom attributes set to None Figure 4. Group Custom Field (Text1) with No Custom attributes – field name showing on bar Related Content Webinars (watch for free now!): Beyond Macros – Customizing Microsoft Project for Non-Techies Getting to Grips with the Project Interface Articles: Out-of-the-Box Dashboards and Reports for Microsoft PPM Custom Visual Reports for Project 2013 and 2016 6 Tips on Microsoft Project Templates

The 0.38 day Mystery Solved!

Ever wonder where that pesky 0.38 days comes from that you find when comparing dates that look to be the same? In a recent inquiry, a reader wanted to know, “Why does a ‘one working day’ task show up as 0.38 calendar days?” In his schedule he was using this formula in a Text1 field: [Finish]-[Start] I tried a few formulas and different fields to see if this behavior was field-related, with no satisfactory answer. So I reached out to my guru, Barbecana Chief Operating Officer, John Owen! Well, he figured out where the 0.38 comes from. Microsoft Project uses a numeric representation of Start and Finish dates, and it’s actually a decimal fraction of a day. Given a start date of: 10/28/16 8:00 AM and a finish date of: 10/28/16 5:00 PM Microsoft Project converts that to 42671.33 for Start and 42671.71 for Finish. The .33 at the end of start number is 0.33 of 24 hours, which equals 08:00. The .71 at the end of finish number is 0.71 of 24 hours, which equals 17:00. 0.71 – 0.33 = 0.38 Mystery solved! Image Source

Inactive Tasks and the Five-minute Fix

While building a schedule, I came up with a technique I want to share. First, the background. Using a populated template to build a schedule for a new project (or working in an existing project), we periodically inactivate tasks that aren’t needed or that are “de-scoped.” In Microsoft Project Professional 2010 and 2013 this new feature enables you to cancel a task but keep a record of the task in the project plan. It causes the task to get grayed out and to show a strike-through. It also causes the successor task(s) to release its logical drive to that predecessor, and if that was the only predecessor, it would show a start date equal to the project’s start date. Predecessors and successors remain in the logic train; they just have no effect. The task remains in the project plan, but doesn’t affect resource availability, the project schedule or how other tasks are scheduled. When we look at tasks using the Task Detail window in the lower half of the split screen and display Predecessors and Successors, we have no visual way to see if they are inactivated. This is where the brainstorm occurred. We were having trouble understanding why a successor task was starting at the beginning of a project when it had one or more predecessors! I devised a solution by quickly and easily filtering all inactivated tasks and adding a tilde ~ prefix to the task’s name! This simple five-minute addition lets us see in the Task Detail form which tasks are inactive!

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There’s No Place Like Home: How to Create a Home View Macro

Have you ever opened one or more Microsoft project files and had a blank screen due to a null-filter or a view that was unfamiliar or out of sorts? What happened to your project?! Why are tasks out of order or missing? Do your consolidated schedules have different views as you toggle from one to another? Well, there are several possible reasons why this is happening — and one probable solution for addressing this dilemma. If you’re performing various analyses, filtering, sorting or grouping either in your individual schedule file or Master consolidated schedule and forget to undo one or more of those actions and save, you’ll end up with a mess. What you or other users will see is a a jumble of unrecognizable information or a blank screen due to a null-filter! So what to do? If you’re working in a dozen or more schedules simultaneously in a consolidated schedule, as I do, you can easily create a Home View Macro. A Home View is your selected view that you want all schedules to show when opened by stakeholders. My Home view is a simple Gantt chart with no bar styles. As an aside, using Microsoft’s default bar definitions with many schedules in a consolidated view causes a long wait-time to refresh after every move, especially if your files are located on a file server or working off Microsoft Project Server. Deleting all bar definitions and leaving the bar style window empty will speed up your computer. I’ve created a separate view titled, “Gantt chart – Table Only,” to keep it separate from Microsoft’s default Gantt chart. Here’s the macro that you can copy and paste into a new macro window, and you can revise with credits. It works well with the 14 subprojects I use it with. Enjoy! Sub Home() ‘ This Macro resets the active view in all ‘ consolidated files to 00 – Gantt Table Only Shows All tasks, ‘ calculates and saves files. ‘ This assumes all schedules are maintained by ‘ one scheduler. If not, make sure other ‘ schedule owners are OK with saving their schedule. ‘ Macro Originally Recorded 5/4/10 by Angelo Arcoleo ‘ (angeloarcoleo@gmail.com) and enhanced by ‘ Jim Aksel (jeaksel@yahoo.com) ‘Caution: Potential errors if file type (2003/2007) ‘ not equal to version of Project running. Dim j As Integer For j = 1 To Application.Projects.Count ‘The number of open projects Dim mProj As Project Set mProj = Application.Projects.Item(j) ‘Grab a project mProj.Activate ‘Make this the “Active Project” ‘ In order to apply this view, the view already has to be in the ‘ project file or in the global.mpt. You can replace ‘ with a view of your choice. ViewApply Name:=”00 – Gantt Table Only” ‘Apply a view OutlineShowAllTasks CalculateAll FilterApply Name:=”Incomplete Tasks” FileSave Next j ‘Go to the next project in line mProj = Nothing ‘returns memory End Sub

Webinar: “Taming the Monster Schedule” – Working with Consolidated Schedules…

  Project Management Institute (PMI)® Professional Development Units (PDUs): This Webinar is eligible for 1.5 PMI® PDU in the Technical Category of the Talent Triangle. Event Description:  When Dr. Frankenstein created a human being from various dead body parts, his elation was beyond imagination.  Little did he know that his complex undertaking would soon become a Monster that was out of control.  In a similar way, many organizations may be faced with having to deliver a complex undertaking with many people, functional silos, distributed accountability, etc. You go thru cycles of: Complex Creation… Pulse on the Project… check for Life… Elation that you have a Live Project, and Sometimes faced with realization that This is a Monster Project Developing a Monster schedule to address this complexity can be daunting. So, we want to arm you with some knowledge that may help you before you begin creating a schedule.  This workshop will share the tips & techniques for “Taming the Monster Schedule”. Speaker Bios:  Nick Campanis, is a PMP with 20+ years of project management experience in planning and implementing a variety of new, multi-million dollar product introductions, ranging from small to larger complex products for the Consumer, Commercial and Healthcare industries. Nick’s passion for project management extends into volunteer efforts as well as various speaking engagements and published articles. Nick is a Project Manager at Bausch & Lomb Angelo Arcoleo is a PMP with 30+ years of experience in engineering, project management, planning and training. He leads projects and teams to plan and execute critical projects utilizing his experience, quiet-leadership, passion and versatility to work with anyone. He is a professionally trained Civil Engineer and has a BS degree from the Rochester Institute of Technology. Angelo is a Master Scheduler for Exelis – Geospatial Systems Division; Orange Belt in Microsoft® Office Project; and President of MPUG (Microsoft® Project Users Group). Have you watched this webinar recording? Tell MPUG viewers what you think! [WPCR_INSERT]

The figure shows a project schedule using Microsoft Project. The schedule includes tasks, durations, and dependencies. The tasks are organized into a hierarchy, with the top-level tasks being "Equipment" and "Facilities". The "Equipment" task has four subtasks: "Equipment Mfg", "Install Equipment", "Debug Equipment", and "Certify Equipment". The "Facilities" task has three subtasks: "Facilities Project Start", "Renovate Facility", and "Fac Group Ready to Accept Equip".

Smart Numbering Master Schedule Tasks

In a Consolidated Schedule, volatile IDs will show repeated numbers representing a task’s ID in a subproject.  This creates confusion and it is difficult to search a task by ID.  Therefore, when using a Consolidated Schedule (Master Schedule)[1], you need to differentiate one project from another.  One way to do this is to use a custom field to identify which task in a subproject you are working with. A Product or Project Schedule UID (PS-UID) is used to uniquely identify a task by a subsystem or project identifier and a Unique ID[2].  This PS-UID smart-number is a concatenation of, usually, 2 alpha-characters Project or Subsystem and a 5 character numeric field comprised of a tasks UID (task field).  A project or subsystem designator can be hard-coded into the PS-UID formula or, if multiple projects or subsystems exist within one project file (stand-alone project file), you can use a custom text field to specify a task’s project or subsystem.  In this example, we will use Text29 to define a custom PS-UID.  When we’re done, the PS-UID field will look as follows in Fig. 1: After selecting Formula button in Fig. 2, the Formula window appears, as shown in Fig. 3.  Enter the formula as shown in Fig. 3.  In this example, “EM” is the 2 character Project Subsystem identifier. Remember, “EM” can be replaced with another text field if you have multiple subsystems or projects within the same project file. (E.G. Text18, for Subsystem, as shown in Fig. 4) Note that the UID field is formatted to 5 characters for visual uniformity in field size. Fig. 5 shows how the PS-UID looks after you select OK and insert Text29 field. You will note that PS-UID suffix equals the UID and is different than the ID. When used in a consolidated file, each task will be represented by its respective subproject file designator as shown in Fig. 6.   [1] Master Schedule: A Microsoft Project file that consists of multiple embedded Microsoft project files (a.k.a. Master Project and subprojects or Master Shell). [2] The Unique ID field contains the number that Microsoft Office Project automatically designates whenever a new task, resource, or assignment is created in the current project. This number indicates the sequence in which the task, resource, or assignment was created, regardless of placement in the schedule.

Ask the Experts: Counting Task Occurrences with Microsoft Project

Angelo of Rochester, NY: When managing project schedules I need to produce a count of various tasks. For example, how many late tasks are in a schedule, how many critical tasks, how many milestones, etc. Typically, I have copied or exported data to Excel and used Excel to calculate the counts for me. Is there a way to have MS Project count these tasks? Ellen explains: Accumulating a count of recurrences in a column value can have multiple uses for reporting in a project schedule. To make a count occur and accumulate you will have to create a customized field with a formula, insert that column into a task table, and then apply groupings and filters. Below are examples with the steps needed to create this type of report. All versions of MS Project have the ability to create customized fields with formulas. You will first create a customized number field, apply “1” into the formula, and set a roll-up value to sum the column value. 1. Using MS Project 2010, click on: Project| Customize Fields. Using earlier levels of MS Project, click on: Tools| Customized Fields| Fields. 2. To create and rename a customized Number field to be called “Count”: Choose Type | Number. Select Number 1 (or any unused number field). Click Rename | Enter “Count”| Click OK. (See below.) 3. After the field has been created, click on Formula in the “Custom attributes” section and click OK to accept the warning message that all existing values will be discarded from the selected field. 4. Enter 1 for the formula in the box at the top of the view, click OK to close the box and OK again to accept another warning message. This action will insert a “1” for each detail and milestone task in the “Count” field for your project. Note: In the view below, the vertical line to the right of the number 1 is the cursor. 5. The last step is to click on Rollup and select Sum in the “Calculation for task and group summary rows” section. Then click OK to close the Customized field box. Insert the “Count” column into any task table view and you will note the accumulated value on the summary rows. In the example below, Outline Level 1 was applied and you will notice that there are five tasks in the Scope section and nine tasks in the Analysis/Software Requirements section. The Project Summary task Software Development is displaying a total of 74 detail and milestone tasks contained in the project schedule and is not counting summary tasks. If you want to know how many critical tasks are in your project schedule, apply the “Critical” grouping and adjust the Outline Level to Outline Level 1; you can easily see the count of the number of tasks in each category. To clear the Grouping Using MS Project 2010, click on View| No Group. Using earlier MS Project versions, select Project| Group by| No Group. In the example below I have created a customized field called “Location” and populated it with some city names. I then created a Grouping called “Location” and applied the new group. To create the new group: 1.Using MS Project 2010, click on: View| Group| More Groups. Using earlier levels of MS Project, click on: Project Group by| More Groups | New. 2.Name: Location 3.Group by: Location 4.Click OK to close the box. To view the numbers of tasks occurring at each location, apply the grouping. Using MS Project 2010, click on: View| Group| Location. Using earlier levels of MS Project, click on: Project| Group by| Location. More task count information can be gained by applying filters. Some useful filters for this purpose could be “Late tasks,” “Critical tasks,” “Uncompleted tasks,” “Milestone tasks,” “Over budget tasks,” “Should have started tasks,” etc. After a filter is applied you can then apply an outline level to view totals. Another filtering idea is to filter by value within a column. For example, you might want to know how many tasks contain the word “Develop” by location. Using the “Location” group created above, apply the group and apply a custom filter that contains the word “Develop” and then apply Outline Level 1. Notice in the example below that the number of occurrences per location has changed. One more idea is to group tasks by week and find out how many tasks should be starting in weekly timeframes. 1.Using MS Project 2010, click on the Start column and select Group by| Week to create the grouping quickly. You may also click on Project Group by| New Group by and create a grouping object. Using earlier levels of MS Project, click on Project Group by| More Groups | New. 2.Name: Weekly by Start date. 3.Group by: Start. 4.Define group intervals: Each Week. 5.Click OK to close the Define Interval box. 6.Click OK to close the Group box. Below is an example of a weekly grouping with the count for number of tasks scheduled by week. To keep the customized fields, groupings, filters, and all customized objects, copy the objects into your Global.mpt using the Organizer function. Using MS Project 2010, click on File| Info| Organizer. Using earlier levels of MS Project, click on Tools| Organizer. Click on the tab along the top for the type of object you wish to copy. Click on the object name on the right side of the view. Click Copy to copy the object to your Global.mpt file. Repeat until all objects are copied. Click Cancel to close the Organizer box. TIP: Add the Clear Group button to the Quick Access bar in MS Project 2010. This button can be found in the All Commands section of the Customize Quick Access bar. 1.On the right side of the Quick Access bar click on the down arrow. 2.Click on More Commands. 3.In Choose commands from select All Commands. 4.Scroll down to Clear Group and click on it. 5.Click Copy. 6.Click OK to close the box. You can add more buttons to the Quick Access bar if the bar is below the ribbon bars. Thanks to Angelo Arcoleo, PMP and Master Scheduler, Project Controls Engineer, ITT Exelis, President of MPUG Chapter Rochester NY for his input to this article.

Mail: Another Perspective on Defining “Critical”

In response to Mike Glen’s article, “Ask the Experts: Define Critical,” published in the October 1, 2008 issue of the newsletter, the question is similar to ones that we have dealt with. I believe the answer is more along the line of the following. Q: I have a very important task that my boss thinks is critical to the project outcome, and it is not showing up as red. How can I make it critical? The fact that your boss believes the task is critical does not mean that it is a Critical task in the schedule, based on Total Slack (TS). A “Program-Critical” task is different from a “CPM-Critical” task. If your workflow logic is correct, then that program-critical task may have slack, and therefore not found on the critical path. If the boss believes the task to be a program-critical task, find out what the risks are that may cause it to be Program-Critical. Assess a duration relative to that level of risk and add a “Risk Contingency” task, within that logic-flow, that may prove to be greater than or equal to the difference between the task TS and Critical Path (CP) TS. In other words, if the program-critical task has a TS of 5d and the CP TS is 0d then add a risk-contingency task of five or more days. This will cause that logic-path to become red. Yours in service, — Angelo Arcoleo, PMP Master Scheduler, ITT Space Systems Division