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Run Cost and Schedule in same MS Project Sheet

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  • #409923 Reply

    Hi!

    I have used MS Project on and off for a number of years and currently uses it on a daily basis in my projects. The projects I handle are from 15-30 persons and 1-2 years in size and in the IT area. Could be infrastructure or application development.

    My problem is that I would like to run cost and schedule in the same Project sheet but it gets to complicated (the ongoing planning is often done using rolling wave). So I run them in separate sheets instead which is not what I want. Note that I try to use only 2 weeks of work packages for the resources but it soon gets to much to keep track of.

    I would really like to use one sheet to grasp the entire project view for all aspects cost, schedule and resources.

    So how does experienced MS Project Professional do it I wonder?

    Any input is appreciated, thanks!

    #409930 Reply

    Anders;
    Hopefully, I’m looking at your question from the right perspective. I’m assuming you mean tracking resource costs and labor hours in the same project schedule.
    In order to forecast/track costs you’ll need to make certain that the resources have an hourly rate associated with them. In the Resource Sheet, add the Standard Rate column and enter the appropriate rate for each resource. Once this is entered, Project will automatically track costs, even though you may not see them in the standard views.
    Next, open a Task Usage view. On the right hand side of the screen is the time scale data. The left column in this timescale data is the details column. Right click somewhere in the Details column. A popup list will appear with a few standard fields that can also be displayed in the timescale. If you want, click “Cost” and the timescale data will no include cost information. However, this cost field is only the costs associated with that specific timescale segment. If you want to see cumulative cost,, right click in the Details column again and this time click Detail Styles. This opens a new window that allows you to add more fields to the timescale display. On the left, scroll down to find Cumulative Cost. Select it, and then click the Show button to move it to the right side of the window. Click OK and now each timescale segment contains a running, cumulative cost. Doing this in a Task Usage type view will allow you to see cumulative costs at the project level, WBS levels, and individual task levels.
    Hope that helps.

    #409932 Reply

    Hi Daryl!

    Thanks for your reply. I may not have been specific enough in my question. Let me elaborate…

    I have good control over how to add resources, resource rates and and how it relates to the schedule and how cost increases as work is added.

    Let me provide an example of the actual problem:

    For the pre study in a project I have resources that are just LOE’s and I have resources that have specific deliverables such as creating Business requirement for a new IT system (done by a Business Analyst). So for this resource I have estimated that I need him/her for 3 months in total. However the actual time that the resource spends on the deliverable is done during the two first months after that I only need to resource the last months to be available to answer questions as a LOE resource. However I need to allocate the resource 100% during the entire 3 months. So If I add the resource as 100% allocated as LOE resources during the entire 3 months I get a could view of the total cost. But when I add to the schedule the specific work that is done during the 2 first months I of course get an over allocation on the resource. so I need to balance the procent allocated on the LOE task and the individual task that the resource do during the period and even do I use a scheduling check tool (Task Inspector) in gets to complicated to keep track of.

    Am I making sense here Daryl?

    #409933 Reply

    That helps.
    To restate what I see as the problem; you’re trying to use the same resource to plan work hours and also determine cost for total project availability, which are two different things.

    I don’t think there’s a good answer since every approach I can think of has a pitfall such as overstating total project hours, and/or over allocating the resource which results in extended project duration when leveling. I think the solution will need to be some method of separating the two (within the same schedule), using one method to manage work and one to manage costs.

    Have you looked at Cost resources? I’ve never used them, but you can use them at the project summary task level to create an overall project budget and they can be used at a task level for project costs. If I remember correctly, they appear to be easy to setup, but I’ve never used them over the course of a real project to understand how they react or “report” actual costs as the project progresses.
    If you can use the Cost resource to forecast availability cost, you may also need to set the actual resource cost down to Standard Rate of 0 so you don’t end up overstating project costs (availability cost + actual work costs). If it’s an enterprise resource, you can do this by changing the resource’s cost rate table on the task to use a table with 0 cost. Double click the resource name on the assignment and in the Assignment Information window, change the Cost Rate Table value at the bottom of the window. If it’s a local resource, simply set the Standard Rate column to 0.

    Sorry I can’t give you a better answer than some ideas to experiment with. Maybe there’s someone else out there in MPUG land who’s used Cost resources and give some guidance.

    #409934 Reply
    Larry ChristofaroLarry Christofaro
    Participant

    Anders.. This is a great question, and begins to separate the beginners from advanced users. The ability to plan, track actuals, and assess future requirements is a key benefit of using Microsoft Project, but requires some expertise and a bit of care. With that said, let me provide a suggestion to help you with the scenario you mention here.
    –Planning the resource: Setup the resource for the three months, but then contour the requirement using a usage view. Setup a resource or task usage view, monthly timephase columns (or to whatever detail you want to provide, and override the flat hourly requirements with your specific requirements. **make sure you baseline your project once this is complete**
    –Tracking: Enter actual hours per period and move remaining work to future periods. This is a common activity but feel free to ask if you are unfamiliar with what I’m saying.
    –Future requirements: Entering actual hours and moving remaining hours will likely move remaining allocation further out or closer in depending on hour variations. You can go back to the usage view or one of many options to adjust future requirements to meet current estimated remaining effort/duration.

    You can now compare actuals and future estimates to the baseline to see how well your resources are meeting expectations. One other, simpler option, is to create two tasks…one full time developing the deliverable and the second for support. Hope this helps…

    #409935 Reply

    Hi Larry!
    Thanks for you’re reply. We are getting closer to my issue (-;
    I’ll input in your text below how I go about the different areas you mention.

    –Planning the resource: Setup the resource for the three months, but then contour the requirement using a usage view. Setup a resource or task usage view, monthly timephase columns (or to whatever detail you want to provide, and override the flat hourly requirements with your specific requirements. **make sure you baseline your project once this is complete**

    [AL] I use the Task usage view for this and use weeks as the lowest level since the resources reports their time per week (note the resources do not report on the individual tasks which they of course should. But this would give me an even more detailed (complicated) schedule. And yes, yes I of know that they at least should be reporting on work package level 2 weeks sized.) Once the planning is done I baseline as you suggest and I can easily get the different variances I need (duration, cost, work). So I think that I have this covered.
    Question: Contour the requirements? How do you mean Larry?

    –Tracking: Enter actual hours per period and move remaining work to future periods. This is a common activity but feel free to ask if you are unfamiliar with what I’m saying. Future requirements: Entering actual hours and moving remaining hours will likely move remaining allocation further out or closer in depending on hour variations. You can go back to the usage view or one of many options to adjust future requirements to meet current estimated remaining effort/duration.

    [AL] This works fine as well. I add actual on a weekly basis in the Task Usage view from received resource weekly time reports and it moves remaining planned time forward in time in the schedule. There is a setting for moving uncompleted work passed status date, but I do not use it. Maybe I should?
    You can now compare actual’s and future estimates to the baseline to see how well your resources are meeting expectations. One other, simpler option, is to create two tasks…one full time developing the deliverable and the second for support. Hope this helps…
    Will discussing with you and Daryl the problem becomes clearer. I’ll add some more explanation…
    Starting the projects, I do a WBS (using WBS Schedule Pro) in which I should capture the scope and nothing but the scope (-;
    The WBS contains all everything down to 2 weeks’ work packages (not lower) including LoE resources and resources with schedule dependent work packages. At this point it is still easy. It is also easy to connect to MS Project and get it in and also at this point setting it up and checking all dependencies according to best practices. The project starts and the entering of actuals begin and works fine for a couple of weeks. But then more detailed information is added under the work packages and it soon gets too much to cope with.

    Believe me I try to keep the detail of activities down and let the resources use their own task lists below the work packages but still it grows.

    So some questions to fellow PM’s and you Larry:
    1. How much time do spend with your Project sheet?
    2. Do they PM’s that manage to keep everything in one sheet, use a Schedule check tool? Is this standard to do, to cope?

    I’ll answer Daryl in his reply.

    // Anders

    #409936 Reply
    Larry ChristofaroLarry Christofaro
    Participant

    Anders, this is getting a bit deep for a forum question but I can answer a couple of specific topic:

    Contour: “mold into a specific shape, typically one designed to fit into something else.” What I mean is to take the flat hours/week you get from an allocation and change the hours to a per period pattern (like front loading the hours in a usage view).
    Moving remaining work: Example of this is in case someone is one vacation for a week. If you don’t enter actual hours then the planned hours remain. Those should move to the next week. Not critical, but more precise than just letting it happen naturally.
    Keeping track as actuals are entered: This is hard to understand your question and probably harder to do a good job of answering. You have three month LOEs, two week packages, and task details as they are known. Maybe that’s what’s adding too much complexity to the situation. I don’t know how to answer your question specifically because it depends on requirements and probably warrants a conversation, but keeping it simple would be my recommendation on a theme. Hope that helps…

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