Webinar Recap: Mastering Microsoft Project Visualization Part 2 – Bending Microsoft Project Reports to your Will

Please find below a transcription of the audio portion of Erik van Hurck’s Mastering MS Project Visualization Part 2 webinar being provided by MPUG for the convenience of our members. You may wish to use this transcript for the purposes of self-paced learning, searching for specific information, and/or performing a quick review of webinar content. There may be exclusions, such as those steps included in product demonstrations. You may watch the live recording of this webinar at your convenience.

Kyle: Hello everyone, and welcome to part two of MPUG’s training series on Mastering Microsoft Project Visualization. Today’s one and a half hour session will cover Bending Microsoft Project Reports to your Will. My name is Kyle, and I’ll be the moderator today. And today’s session is eligible for 1.5 PMI PDU use in the technical category.

If you have any questions during today’s presentation, please send those over at any time using the chat question box on the GoToWebinar control panel. We do plan to answer those for you during the session today. And just a reminder, it is a one and a half hour session, but for some reason you aren’t able to attend the full session live we will have a recording available to you and you’ll receive a link to that recording just a couple hours after we wrap up the live presentation today.

All right, we’ll go ahead and get started. We’re very happy to welcome back Erik van Hurck today. Erik is a senior PPM consultant for Projectum, a European Microsoft partner with offices in Denmark and the Netherlands. He’s also a Microsoft MVP. And as such, Erik insists enterprise customers to adopt the new project online cloud solution for PPM. Erik has a personal blog @theprojectcornerblog.com, and is also a very popular writer and contributor to MPUG as well. His latest contributions being the latest version of the Microsoft Project Do’s and Don’ts book, which is available now on Amazon. So welcome back, Erik. And I’ll go ahead and hand over the controls to you to get us started today.

Erik van Hurck: Yes, thank you very much, and for those who attend the second session and attended the first session, welcome back. Let’s just have a brief checkup with Kyle if we see the screen.

Kyle: That looks great, Erik.

Erik van Hurck: All right. Great. So welcome back everyone. This presentation is called Bending Microsoft Project Reports to your Will. And this is the second part of a three part series we dubbed the Mastering Project Visualization Webinar Series. First part was about visualizing views and tables in your live data from any schedule. That was last week. And today, we’re looking at reports because you as a project manager, or a scheduler aren’t an island anymore. That might have been the case in the 1980s. But we’re in 2019 now, and we want to share our reporting, or our scheduling information. So we’re going to take a deep dive into reports today.

And next week, we’re going to take a look at something ancient, but still relevant, and that is printing in Microsoft Project schedule. Because this can be something daunting for first time user or first time printer in Microsoft Project. So that’s going to be a shorter session. But today, one and a half hours, I hope to get your attention on reports.

Now, for the introduction, Kyle, already mentioned a lot of what is to be mentioned about myself, we’re 10 years plus in the field, have worked for a numerous clients implementing doing training courses speaker. So let’s move past this slide. And let’s head over to the agenda. So what are we going to look at today? We are going to test and see how you as a current user of Microsoft Project actually do reporting currently. We’re going to mention the three different modes of reporting that have been a part of Microsoft Project in previous versions and in the current version, and anything in between. And I’m going to show you examples of what a classical report was, what an external report could look like. But we’re going to mainly focus on the more modern way of Microsoft Project reporting.

And because this is a reports bending to your will kind of webinar, we’re going to give you three tips on how to actually manipulate the data that we have on screen and show that in as nice a way as possible. And I’m going to end up with a short bonus. So that’s a little incentive to stick around for the one and a half hours, as well as a wrap up and some questions and answers. Now, I do agree that this is a long session. So halfway through after first demonstration, we are also going to include a shorter questions and answer section. And I’ll let Kyle know when to jump in and answer, report your questions to me. So let’s dive into a little interactive part within this presentation, this webinar. So how do we report in Microsoft Project?

So this is a question, and this is a question to you, my audience. So I’m using a tool that’s called Mentimeter. And if you navigate to the top of the page, you will see a short URL and you can navigate to this page using your mobile phone so you don’t need to step away from the webinar itself. And you get asked a question to enter a code. And this code is 18 11 17. And you get this question, how do we currently report in Microsoft Project? So I would like to give you a few minutes time and report back to me, how do you currently report on Microsoft Project?

And maybe it’s even a completely different one than what’s currently on screen. So if that’s the case, let’s have that up in the comments as well. So far, everyone is very cool. All right. And we are starting to see interaction coming in here. And that’s very good to hear. And it is almost exactly as I would have expected, where we PDF, our current view that we have on screen or I have a specific view for reporting and has been mentioned last week where we created a specific view for specific reporting need. And we have Excel, obviously the main application that everyone knows and loves, and the lowest. And I did almost expect this result as well. I have a set of reports in Microsoft Project, there’s very little response on that item. And I’m going to show you and let you know how to actually get that reporting in Microsoft Project itself, up to par, up to what you actually would expect to see.

So let’s give it just another minute for people to respond. And we didn’t Mentimeter this application. It is also possible to get the results of this questionnaire. And obviously at the end of the session, I will make a PDF version of the presentation. And I will share it with Kyle and with the MPUG community as well. So thank you all very much for responding. And I do see that PDF is still one of the main ways to report on the Microsoft schedule, which is very interesting to see. And we’re going to focus today on how to set reports in Microsoft Project itself. So let’s continue on.

As I mentioned during the agenda, run through, there are actually three types of reports possible within Microsoft Project previously. We had a classical report, which was only text based and table based and it will result in a PDF, might be very useful for most of the people in the audience. But then Microsoft Project evolved. And during the 2007 and 2003 versions, we got a new way of creating reports. And what that would do is it would grab the data from a schedule. And it would transform that to an analytical cube. And that’s technical for some file that can be used to external sources, such as an Excel file, such as a Visio file, and you could create your own templates. And clicking on the external would create that file within an Excel file. And you could use that to actually have a nice report based on your data.

And now, and in 2013 and up versions of Microsoft Project, you actually have a reporting module included within the Microsoft Project tool. So we’re moving from a text and table based reporting style to Excel and an external visualization to internal visualization of Microsoft Project reports.

So just to give you a brief history lesson here, it used to be possible where you could go into, and this is a screenshot of the 2007 version of Microsoft Project, and you would go into view and you go into reports and you would get this small, this is actually 2003 version because it’s not in color. In 2007, it became in color. You could select any of these and it will generate a text based report on your schedule, which could be useful, but most of the time, this produced reports that were 18 pages long and with a lot of white space in there.

So, where did that go? It actually is anyone’s guess, I couldn’t find it in the last version of Microsoft Project. And to be honest, I haven’t used it since 2013. So we’re moving on from a purely text based kind of report to a more visual one.

And the next type of reports that we could use, were presented through a more modern looking menu. And this menu can be reached by going into reports and then it must go into visual reports. And this would create a number of out of the box reports that you could utilize. And these were either in Microsoft Excel or Microsoft Visio. You could also create your own Microsoft template or you could create your own template based on Excel and Visio and based on a subsection of the reports basis. So you would have task information or you would have resource information or you would have cost information.

And when you created that new template, it would build up within Microsoft Project, and it will translate that into Excel or Visio. The nice thing about this visual is that it would transform and it would navigate you to an Excel file or a Visio file. And most users of Microsoft Project will have some proficiency with generating reports in excel. So it was easy to create your most stunning reports within the XL framework.

Two things that you would need to keep note of, is that you had a selection of detail within that report. And the more detailed you get, the longer it would load, or it would take to load the data into Excel. So you would have daily options, you would have weekly options, monthly options or yearly options. And you would have the option to include your own set of report templates, which would be on a certain location such as the TPC articles, MPUG articles, and then I would have the XL reports there.

But as we progressed through newer versions of Excel and newer versions of Microsoft Project, somehow there was unknown error that started to occur. And I tested this today again, and I do have both the newest version of Excel and that of Microsoft Project and I couldn’t find out what the exact reason for this unknown error was. If at some point in time in the future, I will find that reason why it is an unknown error and what that unknown error actually means. And if we can mitigate that, I will for sure, share that through the MPUG community, and hopefully, include some more nice Excel study reports.

So that is for the history of Microsoft reporting. And what we currently have is we have future based report possibilities. And this is just an example of the cash flow report that we can generate within Microsoft Project itself. This is one of the default reports that come with a tool. And you can manipulate this data, as we would expect from this, the title from this webinar.

So let me see what the next item is. Yes, I’m going to demonstrate the new reports. And I’m going to walk you through the different things that you need to take in mind when looking into the Microsoft Project reports themselves. So let’s navigate through the new business plan webinar file. This is the file that we used last week, and we’re going to continue on looking into this schedule today. So what I’m going to do is I’m going to get a full screen of the Gantt chart. And please take note that we have resources in here, we have estimated work, we have duration, we have some completed tasks. And if we navigated to project, and we navigate to the set baseline, we will also see that there is a baseline saved on this file. These are some of the basic needs from Microsoft to actually generate some kind of report.

So let’s jump in. And last week I got the question what version of Microsoft Project I’m using. So let me share that straight away. I am going to navigate to the sorry, wrong button. I’m going to navigate to the account. And here you see that I’m using the Microsoft Project Online desktop client, which is the newest version of Microsoft Project, it is currently in 1911, which is the build number. And that means that the visualizations that you’re going to see is similar to the Microsoft Project 2019 version. However, all the reports except for the Agile reports, are also part of the 2013, 2016, and 2019 versions of Microsoft Project. And you will be able to use those reports that I’m going to show you today.

So navigating through the ribbon, there is a ribbon item here that’s called reports. There’s a compare projects section here that lets you compare versions of the same schedule. This is actually not a report in the sense as I would like to see reports today, and we have that version of visual reports that we mentioned that actually has the error that we saw in the presentation. And currently, Microsoft Project is having issues again. Here we go. So visual reports, and there’s Excel templates and samples for this, such as the cash flow report. There’s the option to change from yearly, quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily items. And we can add layers within the report. And we used to be able to save that data so that we can consume that in for instance, spot fire report or a Power BI report.

But we could also click on View and it would create [inaudible 00:18:52]. Now currently, the [inaudible 00:18:55] will probably generate an issue but it’s going further than last time, so maybe we’re lucky today. And we are not, Microsoft Project actually crashed. So let’s navigate back to that webinar example. So it is safe to say that the visual reports are probably depreciated within Microsoft. And we should actually look at the reports that are in the mid-section. So let’s do that today.

I’m going to click on reports. And they are categorized, we have dashboards, we have resource related reports. We have cost related reports. We have reports that focus on items that are in progress. There’s also a getting started report. And that is very nice, where you can get a little bit of lessons in how to work with Microsoft Project, such as DA getting started with Project. Here, you can actually take interactive guide within Microsoft, within the application that you can click on, start, and you will get to a new page. And these are the different pages within that report. And you get some more information about Microsoft Project. And it’s actually a quite nice basic introduction in Microsoft Project. So be sure to have a look at that one. It’s in the getting started and getting started with Microsoft Project.

Then there’s a best practice analysis and it’s a very basic one where we have remaining work with tasks that are in the history, so these should have been completed but they haven’t been completed. Then there’s unassigned work. So there’s no unassigned work in this report, meaning that there are in tasks that have work on them, but no resource. Then there is something that we have against tasks that have a duration less than one day.

Normally a Microsoft Project schedule would be a broader way of scheduling big engagements, and having tasks that are smaller than a day typically are less easy to manage. And you could get into the situation where you’re going to micromanage those. And then there is some tasks with assigned resources, which is also a bad practice. And as we can see, other than the remaining work that is in the past, we’re doing quite well with our level bill report example.

Let’s navigate to a more interesting view of reports. We have a burn down chart, we have a cost overview and a project overview. We have upcoming tasks and work overview. So let’s jump into the burn down where we have the option to see the amount of work that actually is scheduled over a timeframe. And we’re going to look at the cumulative work that is still being planned or scheduled, then actually remaining work. And we see a little dip at the start of the project, but after that, we see a straight line because no progress has been made on the activities within the schedule. And we can jump back into the Gantt chart. And we can set for instance, these two activities to be completed as well. And let’s do that right now. Clicking on complete.

We’ll go and navigate back to our burned down chart. And we’ll see directly the difference between what used to be the report and what currently is the report. So there’s no need to generate any reports. It’s live data of your schedule, which typically is very nice to have. These are out of the box from Microsoft Project as soon as you are in the 2013 or up versions of Microsoft Project. And that means that there are some textual information in here as well, as well as links to Microsoft pages to get more information about that activity. So other than work related information, there’s also task related information. And what we see here is that from the 80, roughly 80 tasks that were in the schedule as a whole, we currently have 70 tasks still remaining untouched, so to say.

So this is very straightforward where we see the start date and the end date of the project. And we have other defaults, such as the project overview, which I typically like. Where we see that their milestones do completion very soon. We have late tasks, which we actually should have completed, or at least started. And we have a big bar that says that we’re 9% complete. And on the right, we see a percentage complete per top level of our schedule. So let’s see where that lands. We go back to the Gantt chart, and if I go into view and I go into outline there is an option to see the top level, the first level within the schedule WES or project breakdown structure, whichever strikes your fancy. And on this level, we actually have a filter, which we discussed last week on this report page, so we never get back to the project overview. And what we see here is the first level.

When we click on one of these items, we actually see that it has a box around it. And this box is actually an element and this is an XML element or an Open XML file bit, tidbit, I don’t know the technical term to be honest, but what we do see is that there is a filter on all active tasks. There is a group by no grouping and there’s an outline level on level one. If for instance, I would like to see all level two tasks, I would see nothing because there is no active level two task. But we can also see all sub tasks. And that generates an error. But we have at least our face section where we can see our current progress within our schedule on a top level.

There’s more information here, but we’re going to dive in there when we’re going to have a deep dive into tidbits as well. So let me share some other very useful reports that I typically use. We have an upcoming task section where it looks at what is going to happen next week. Where you have a work overview, which is looking into the availability and remaining availability for our resources, we have the remaining work, we have actual work, and we have percentage of work completed. And we have these top two graphs where we have the actual work remaining work and baseline work. And as we say that phase four is actually the biggest chunk of the work that we still need to do. And if we look at the bottom half, we see the type of resources that actually have work within this schedule, and that have remaining work. So the owners have done everything that they need to do. But the manager still needs to have a long and hard look at the schedule itself.

Looking further, we have resource specific views. We have the resource overview, which is a subsection or a divide of what we’ve previously seen in the dashboard. And we have some very interesting cost related reports. And I do think that Microsoft did an excellent job at creating a default version of a report here. So let’s have a look at the cost flow, for instance. And here it gives you a nice overview of the actual costs that have already occurred. What was originally intended in the baseline, what was remaining, and what currently is the cost variance. And with a cross various we mean the baseline cost and what is actually intended as being the cost of the complete project once it is completed.

Below we see some more information and again, this divided by the outline level one, let’s see if we can have a more granular view of this right here. And again, I see some issue with the filter here. Let me try and see if I can have all tasks. And then also tasks. And here we go. So what we currently see is that all levels of detail are within this table. And we can easily trim this by, for instance, looking at a certain resource group or uncompleted tasks section, that we need to navigate all the way up and seeing us there are still some filters active here. We’re not seeing the data that we actually intend to see. But other than that, this is a nice cost flow overview, and we’ll get back to this little graph in a moment when we’re going to dive into the first tip that I have for you.

Then there’s the Earned Value report. And this is something that some of you might be very interested in because Earned Value management is something of a specialists way of looking at schedules. But what we have here is the estimated at completion, estimated costs work performed, baseline costs work performed, and some graphs that actually dive deeper in the indicators that we have as Earned Value managers. One thing to keep in mind here is that for this report to work, we actually do need to have assignments assigned to resources. We do need to have costs over time. And we do need to have a baseline for our original intent. Without those elements in a schedule, the Earned Value report will have insufficient data. And it won’t be able to give you a clear overview of what you would actually like to see in your own Earned Value management.

I do have an extensive blog post about the Earned Value management, you can view that by for instance, googling or binging about Earned Value management. And you’ll probably end up in the project corner, which is my blog, my personal blog. So what we also have is a task cost overview, which is also a very nice one where you have the future tasks that are not completed yet. We have late tasks, which should have completed and we have status completed tasks. And let’s see if there’s one more that I would like to share with you. Yeah, we have the milestone report, milestones past due, milestones during this week, and milestones that have been completed. And this will fill up based on the amount of activities that we have or amount of milestones that we currently have.

And one final thing that I would like to share is the critical tasks. Sorry, the late tasks. And here we see the amount of tasks that are late. And again, here is a … let me see if I can visualize this. There should be a list of late tasks here, and I’m pretty sure that it should be there but yet too bad. It’s a live demo, so to say. Let’s return to the project overview, which is a nice starting point of reporting. And I’m going to look into the report here. And what I’m going to do here is I’m going to click on the all subsets now all sub tasks, and I’m going to return to one of these reports.

Okay, so just to really reiterate what we just saw happening, there was an issue where we had the Gantt chart, and we had that filtered on the top level. So level one. And there are no activities visible here. When we navigate to the reports, these reports will actually look at the top level filtering that we have done in the Gantt chart. So currently, there’s no critical tasks that are visible, but when we return to the Gantt chart, and when I go to View and outline and all sub tasks.

Now I go back to my report, this will actually be filled with the data, because there is more information for Microsoft Project to consume. And here we see the whole list of our critical tasks. And let’s do that same thing with our late tasks. Here, we see that these tasks are actually delayed tasks that we should have completed based on our current progress. So this is a brief first introduction into what Microsoft has to offer in reporting wise, and we’re going to jump back into the presentation. And we’re going to take a short break for questions and answers. I do see a flickering icon. So I hope that there are some questions. If not, we’ll continue on with tip number one. So, Kyle, let me know. Is there any questions coming in?

Kyle: We do have a few questions, Erik.

Erik van Hurck: Great.

Kyle: Tom sent one over. He was curious, does the phase progress report widget allow reporting by a user defined category?

Erik van Hurck: Can you reread the question? The phase?

Kyle: Was phase progress report widget. I think that could have been one of the earlier items that you showed.

Erik van Hurck: Yeah. Let me see if I can find it here. Well, it’s not in here. Maybe it is in here. But the main question is, can that be user define, I believe? And the answer to that is, yes, these reports are editable to a very high extent. And we’re going to see more of that in the second half of this webinar.

Kyle: Okay, great. The next question came from Ian, and he asked, “What does the show hierarchy box do?”

Erik van Hurck: Yeah, very good. Very good question. The show hierarchy actually takes into account the WBS. So if for instance, we have a table here, and the bottom four items are on a lower level in the WBS, it will actually show the summary task as well. And it will show the indent as far as we have that in the Gantt chart as well. So that is what the show hierarchy does.

Kyle: All right. Great. Let’s see Miles someone over asking, actually stating that when he displays the good practices report I only see remaining work. He’s curious, “How do I show all the columns you had, for instance, work in the past and et cetera?”

Erik van Hurck: That might be that there is an overwrite of your default report. And you will need to grab that from the original reports. And let me see because my screen seems to be frozen here. So yeah, I would advise looking into the original reports from Microsoft Project. It might also be that there’s data lacking from that report. Let me try and get my Microsoft Project back because we do need that for the second half. Kyle, any other questions at the moment?

Kyle: Yeah, we have one from Bob. And Bob asked, Microsoft Project reports and my finance department reports never agree. And you see the problem has to do with the number of internal decimal digits each track for their calculations, rounding differences resulting in dollar values in the thousands or more that range never matching between project and finance. He’s curious, is there a way to restrict Microsoft Projects internal decimal digits? Again, get those to match with [inaudible 00:38:46] department.

Erik van Hurck: Well, there will probably always be an argument between finance and project management. Mostly in my opinion, is because project management is looking into the future where finances most of the time looking in what has already been in the books, and finance has their own systems. So maybe that’s SAP, maybe that’s another financial system. And that will always be more accurate than a Microsoft Project file can do. There are colleagues that would say never have finances in total in Microsoft Project. I don’t agree to that. But yeah, there is a way for a certain extent, limit the amount of their small values. And that will be by creating, what we call a custom field and that will be taking the data, the raw data from your costs, and limiting that information to a certain amount of decimals. That will be my best guess for a solution there.

Kyle: Great things, Erik.

Erik van Hurck: All right.

Kyle: We do have some more questions. Let me know if we should move on to the next portion of the video.

Erik van Hurck: I do seem to have a problem with Microsoft Project. It doesn’t seem to be loading and it doesn’t even show up here. So let me try and open project once again, and let’s see if there are actually something happening here. So let’s try and do one additional question in the meantime.

Kyle: Sure. We have one from Christie. When changing filter criteria in a report, does it stay that way when saved?

Erik van Hurck: The filter criteria that you apply on your Microsoft Project reports will remain there until you manually change them. Yes. So the filters that you have in your report will be in that report. You could create a different report that has a different set of filters active. Yeah, so that’s for that part. I really, really start to worry about my Microsoft Project file here. Let’s see if there’s something running here in the back end. And I do apologize people for this inconvenience. And this is strange. Where is Microsoft Project? There it is. Let’s end the task. Let’s see what happens. I’ll give it one last time. One last try. And here we go. And here is our webinar file again. So we got the day saved. That is very nice.

So here we go. Let’s continue to the three tips that I have prepared for you in regards to the Microsoft Project reports. The first one is time granularity. And this helps you shape the graphs that you create within Microsoft Project reports to the right format that is key for your reporting needs. So for instance, we have seen the top level reports that we have here and it looks different than the bottom half. So on this level, it looks at what seems to be week basis of report detail. And on the bottom half, it has a monthly detail. So how do we approach this in the Microsoft Project reports? Let’s navigate to that cost cash flow, where typically when we start Microsoft Project and we use the cash flow report, it will be showing this graph in a quarterly basis. That is the default setting that we have in this report.

But we want to have this in a more detailed situation. What we do then is I’m going to move away to webinar control section here. We have a category here, and this shows up as soon as I click on any of these time based reports. So for instance, this is a table and this just shows you the selected fields. But if we go to a graphic that has a time aspect in it, it will have the option to give you a selection category and edit that timeframe. So currently, if we click on Edit, we see that we have the current visual on a quarterly basis. Well, that is actually not what we want. Let’s change this and set this to a month basis, for instance, where we see the date format changes to January 2009, which is a time ago, but what we see happening is that that S curve starts to show up, which is a very nice visual compared to what we previously had, what might have been a to higher up granularity.

So let’s do that again. And let’s change the setting a bit more, where I can click on Edit, I can change the date format that I have here. Currently, it says the full month and the full year, I might want to have that limited to, for instance, Jan 09. And that gives me more space for my report itself. Now, obviously, I can remove this text section here as well. And I can just grow my graph here and I would have a very nice overview of that report. I could also dive into week basis, day basis, hourly, minutely, because the timeframe is there for each level of time.

So Microsoft gives you the options. I would however, advise against going into minutes and hours and days in a report that you might want to look into. We can look at quarters. We’ve already seen that. And if we have very big report, we can even see how it progresses in year basis. So this is tip number one where we have the option to change the time granularity using this little Edit button. And this is available for any graph that you create with a time-based section here. So we can also see that in different reports where we have the for instance, where was it? We have the DD milestone report, where we have this little graph here where it shows the number of tasks that are being completed and it’s currently very detailed, where it looks at the day-by-day basis.

And the graph? Well, yes, it is available and it does show information. But we might want to be on a more granular level, such as we’ve seen in the previous report. So here we have a graph that makes more sense for management level reporting, than a day-by-day report need. So this is tip number one. I hope you like it. Look for any of the reports that you have, look at burn down chart for instance, it has a date value, select that tile or that that visual, and head on over to the top right here. And if you do not see this section, this fields list, make sure you go up to reporting tools, to the design, the Chart Tools, sorry, design. And then there is this little box that says chart data. And if you select that, or deselect that even, it will remove that section here. Getting back to that section is as easy as clicking on the visual, heading over to Chart Tools design and clicking on chart data. So that’s it for tip number one. Very nice little way to look at your visuals. So that’s it. That’s tip number one.

For tip number two, I would say let’s do a deep dive in here. And what we would like to do is we have all these default reports within Microsoft Project. We have burned down charts, we have cash flows, we have earned value management, we have something to do with our resources, we have late tasks. What are we going to do? We are actually going to create our own custom report. There’s three things that I would like to give as design aspects here. So who is the report intended for? And how often are we going to analyze the data? So in what time granularity is that data supposed to show up? And do we want others to have that report in depth projects as well. And we’ll dive into that last one, just as we did in the previous webinar, where we are going to look into templates and the organizer. So tip number two, copy or remove.

Let’s jump into the reports again. And what we’re going to do is we’re going to create a new report, and we can do that through these buttons here. And we can go for a complete blank project. But we can also go for one that has a table in there or one that has a chart in there. What I’m going to do is I’m going to create one that has a chart in there, and I’m going to call it, webinar part two. And I’m going to click on okay.

So what shows up is webinar or two, it has a nice little title that I can even move and change to a different part of that section. I can even change the drawing section, and I can give it a nice little box or I can make it a filler box here. I can make that navigate to the whole pay. And we know that this is the webinar part two report that we currently have because it shows up as the title here on the top left, the far left, just as we would see our Gantt chart title here, it shows up as the report title. Now, how to navigate back to that report that we created, there’s two ways. There is the recent list with our recent report. Or we can look into the custom reports, which is currently just one of those reports.

So right from the start, we actually get a nice visual that I want to keep for my report. This is one that looks at the actual work as well as the remaining work and what was the total amount of work. So currently, we see that in phase one, we’re actually moving on up and we’re getting closer to the what actually work we need to do. Face two, three and four hasn’t started yet. So I’m going to move this one all the way up here. I’m going to remove this one here.

And now I can create new items. But I actually want to mix and match some of the values that I’ve seen previously. So from the burn down chart, I typically like a work based report. So I select this value, I click on control C, or I would click on right, I would, sorry. So very small thing. I would click on copy. And I would navigate back to the other report that I have. And I would click on paste, and I keep source formatting or I can use the destination theme if there’s a different theme here. I can even do it as a picture. But let’s keep the source formatting for now.

And now have this new section here. And I can just drag and drop that and have to add on this side. And this is now my work section of my report, which I typically use for work related items. Then there’s obviously something that we need to say about our cash flow. And because cash mostly is about data that we do want to visualize, and we do want to have as raw numbers here as well. We’re going to navigate and we’re going to keep both values and we’re going to head back over to webinar example, and this one can be this big. I typically like it like this. And we can change the design of this report because it is financials and I would like to have it visualized like this, to draw the attention to the actual values within the S curve.

Now we can further manipulate this visual here by for instance adding or removing items, such as the cost or community of cost, or we can say okay, well we actually also would like to have a title within the access and we can add the title ourselves. We can also add a chart title here. And I do want to do that and I want to call it costs and cumulative, and I’ll make it very hard for myself here, costs over time. So this is now a nice little chart that I do want to have.

Now Microsoft is on a march to have more openness of their data, their content. And to be sure, these elements that we have selected here, copy pasting those, can also be done outside of the Microsoft Project file. So let’s, for instance, say that we have a status report document. And we would like to have that financial value here as well, you would navigate to this page, the webinar page and we would select Copy. And I can do two things, I can select and have this as a picture. And I can just make this a smaller picture and nothing can be manipulated further here. I can also select Control V, and I could use the template or the theme that we have in our own document, for instance, or I could choose to keep the source formatting and have it included as the file itself.

And this is very nice because we’re also knows how to manipulate or use this data. And you can further change this by, for instance, removing that title that we had in the original. Or we can remove the grid lines here and have the legend for instance being on the side. So these options are available straight away from Microsoft Project and are very useful, in my opinion, to generate powerful reports. Now, as you might already deduce from this, this works through all Microsoft Office files, so we can also generate, for instance, a new page here and new slide. And we can add that here. And also here, we still have those same values where we can change the title or add some more colors here as well.

So let’s jump into one final example of copy pasting. Here we have the project overview. And we can have the percentage complete here, which is a very useful value. And I copy that to my custom report here. And I would have that somewhere down here, and it doesn’t, it’s still copied my old report. So I do believe that we get the general feeling of an understanding of the tip number two, so it’s easier to copy paste something that was already designed and already looking quite well for us. And just gathering that information on a personal webpage, or a personal report, which has the content that we actually need to surface in our day-to-day reports. And we can even share this information with our management and just show them a page of this information.

Let me jump back in here, and here we have the percentage complete. Obviously, we can also generate our own little chart, our table, and will be done by clicking on that chart, and then selecting the type of chart that we actually want. And start building from there, automatically it will look at task related-data. But we can also select resources, and it will gather the resource names. There’s also options to see initials are usually login accounts or unique IDs or initials might be or email address.

You can also look at time, where we see how much people are working at what time frame, and this might not be the most useful report in this instance. But what we see directly is we see the actual work remaining work and work related items here. And what we can show is we’re more interested in costs for instance, and we can see actual costs and we can see costs here and we can remove the work, and now we have a cost-based resource overview, ready to be shared within Microsoft Project or within any other Office application that we currently own. So that’s tip number two.

Let’s jump in my final tip that I have for you. Theme colors, very specific, but you could create a custom report adjusted to your company’s branding. And keep in mind that you do want to have that data exported to Excel and Word or PowerPoint and copy that theme color information to those other applications. Or you could retain the theme colors within your current document. Sorry.

So let’s jump back in. For instance, on this report, we have values here. And we have the option to change the color themes here. Currently, we have all these values here. And within Microsoft Project, just as in Office, you have the way to update the theme files in the root store. I currently don’t have access to that, so I can’t show you that. But we could change the values to more closely aligned with the color scheme that we want to have within our organization. So we could choose for a blue green value, and we could reproduce that same situation by selecting the other elements hidden here as well. And we need to do that per type of elements. Sorry. So let’s do that right here. And I still have too much differences here. So let’s do that for element.

And we can navigate through this one, and go to this one as well, as well as our final report item here. Sorry, and navigating to change colors again, and navigating to this color palette that we have here. Third thing that you can do is you can add, for instance, logos of your report. And I’m going to do that right now. Where I lower some of these items here, I go to report design. And I click on images. And I had a very nice little MPUG logo here. And here we have the situation that we now have a lovely MPUG report. And let’s finalize that a little bit here and make that a little bit more in line.

And what I can do is I can make a screenshot out of this, or a PDF of this page, or whatever I would like to do with this report. I could also just copy paste everything here and make sure that I have everything selected and move that over to my PowerPoint, for instance. Let’s do that one final time. Where I can say, “Okay, well, I want to have this as an image.” And it would generate that image of my project and its progress. This could be a very useful, very quick way on generating reports, because they’re already in Microsoft Project. They’re always up to date to whatever we’re seeing in the Gantt chart, and our current schedule. And, yeah, very personal for reports that we currently have.

So jumping into, I am going to look at my two sharing reports. And then yeah, the bonus, let’s bring back the bonus in just a moment. Let’s finalize this part where I’m going to share the organizer, as well as Microsoft Project templates. For instance, we created the most ideal version of a report that we’ve ever seen and that we love, and that we want to share with our organization. There is the organizer to help you out with that. So how to access the organizer, let me first save this project file so that we don’t lose the data like we did last week.

Where I click on the file, I have the info, and there is the organized global template file. If I click on organize, I can navigate any of these items and I can navigate that back to the global entity. Now, the global entity can be seen as your local machines store of content. So for instance, if I moved the webinar part two, and move that to the global MPT, that will be a report that I have available in every new project or every current project that I have stored on my machine. So let’s click on close. And let’s see that live in action, where I click on new, and I click on for instance, a software development plan. I click on create.

And I would like to see that report that we just created. So navigating to reports I would have the option to see to actually two reports that are customized. So the webinar part two is currently in here and I see it updates the values here quite [inaudible 01:06:56]. This top level has more summary tasks than we have in the other report, but other than that, it still looks like the same kind of report that we had. And just to prove that it currently also updates the information that we have in our own schedule, we can click on task and we’ll set half of it to be completed.

And will navigate to the custom report webinar part two. And we see content running in here. And we see updated actual work, as well as some remaining work halfway through. And as we can see is that there’s actually no costs associated with any of the resources that we have in our project that we can of course, meaningful that value again, by navigating to resource sheet and we can change the standard rate of every resource that we have in here, and navigate back to the report.

Custom webinar part two. And here we see that the actual cost as well as the cost and actual cost work performed, actually does show up as well as a nice little S curve that we know and love. So this is one of the ways to share our reports. The other one is where we … Let me switch back to … Yeah, this is the original. We can also share our reports by using templates, and templates have the added value that you can extend your reports as well as your current schedule needs within a file that you can share with your colleagues. So let’s do that right now. And I will share the current file with Kyle, and the unplug community. So let’s click on Save As. And we can set it to templates. But I do want to have it in the input articles section. Currently it’s an MPP, which means that Microsoft Project project, but I do want to change that to a Microsoft Project template.

Now, if I do that, it will navigate back to the default setting of where we have templates. So be sure to navigate to the right location. And it now is a Microsoft Project template. We will remove actual values or if it has been published to a Microsoft Project web app, and click on save. And we will see a slight change within the MPP or MPT extension, and we look at the newly crafted logos. These are just released last week, I believe. These are the new logos for Microsoft Project projects, and Microsoft Project templates. And be sure that template is actually a copy able file. So we just open up the template and it creates a new Microsoft Project File without polluting the current values within the current Microsoft Project template.

So let’s have some questions right now, Kyle, and I’ll try and answer those as good as possible. And we’ll jump right after that, we’ll jump into the bonus that I’ve prepared for you guys.

Kyle: Excellent. Thanks, Erik. We do have quite a few questions here. So let’s start at the top here. In sort of a question asking, “Can you change the sort order in the reports, like sort critical tasks by date, for example?”

Erik van Hurck: Yeah, there are some ways to do that. Let me jump into one of the tasks and see critical tasks, for instance. And if we click on this, there is actually a sort by section here. And it will go into much detail to go through all these options here. But be sure that in a table section, you would have the option and let’s see what we have here. We have the option to filter, we have the option to group, we have the option to look at different levels within the summary, and we have the option to show hierarchy. Let’s click on that, because that was a previous question I do believe. Here you see that the hierarchy of your organization is retained. So what we previously saw was only the critical tasks themselves. But if we have a show hierarchy that will actually show up more details, where it’s supposed to be the name of the project, it’s related data, the top level, then the level below and then the actual critical tasks that we have here.

And there is a sorting option. Currently, it says it’s not sorted, but it will give you the option to sort on any of the values that you currently have in your table. So for instance, let’s do that for a report where we have financials. Let’s go into the cost. Yeah, this one, and it is a project that doesn’t have anything in here and that might be because I have, sorry again, I’ll go into outline level all sub tasks. And I’ll go into my resources. Why don’t the resources have values today. Yeah, we’ll set that to 40. This is a template that I’m really pleading now. So that’s the reason why there aren’t any default settings here. Sorry about that. Just forgot about that for a second. Let’s put some data in here. And let’s return to our cost overview, cash flow. So here we have some more data.

So the question is, can we sort information here? We have a table here. Currently, it is sorted on nothing specifically, and then it will look at the ID of a task and run through to the end. But if we do want to sort it, we can sort it for instance on cost, where it will look at the lowest value here and navigate through top level or bottom level. And we can even toggle the essential and we’ll broaden this item here so that we can see that actually. So I haven’t currently sorted on cost, and I can say that it should look at ascending or descending value related to the cost items. So we can also look at the remaining costs and do a descending or ascending way of looking at it. So I hope that was sufficient answer for that question. Any other questions?

Kyle: Great. Thanks, Erik. Yeah, so Ed sent over a question asking, what views do you use during a status update, typically?

Erik van Hurck: Status update. I typically would go in and look at the in progress section, where we see our critical tasks or late tasks, and a milestone and a slipping task report. Now, status update also sounds a bit like an agile situation where in the newest version of the online desktop client, you also have an agile way of looking at your project. So you have board talks and current sprint, status and sprint status in total. I could do a demo of that in maybe a later MPUG article or you could navigate to the book that we have, which has a whole chapter on the agile functionality within our newest version of project.

So for the answer to the question, I typically look at the in progress section. And I do most of the time, create my own custom reports for that as well where I do pick and choose for the critical tasks that are being done. I typically like this pie chart here where it says what is late. And if we want to dive into that, we would have the option to, for instance, see the data labels here as well so that we know how much hours are actually late. And we can manipulate critical tasks together with the, is it the late tasks itself? So here we see the amount of late tasks. I do typically see me adding this to a project template.

Kyle: Thank you, Erik. Excuse me. All right, so we also had a question come in from Christie asking what the best practices for your data date, should it be current day or looking ahead to the Friday in which the report will be run?

Erik van Hurck: Well, that depends largely on the reporting needs from your management. What I do always advise people to look into is looking into the status date. So when we update our project, be sure to have a status date set to the current date. And we can have that set to today or we can have that set to a different date, but what the status date gives you is an option to share with your management. We have our status date as being today, and the status of today is our current report. And if you have that in your report, shared in your report as a value, then you will be able to use that with your management. So it’s a bit of avoiding answer, I do agree. But this typically depends on the reporting needs of your management. If they need to have it on the day itself, then it would say okay, well, generate report and send that over.

What I see most of the time is that an organization has a status update template, either in my PowerPoint or in Word, and we do typically create reports that are easily shared with either PowerPoint or Word, and having that report sections such as the costs and competitive costs, being a part of that overall status update that we have for our management.

Kyle: Thanks, Erik. Next question came in from Tom, who was present for last week’s webinar. He says building on last week’s session, is it possible to include a timeline view in the report? Is it possible to have multiple timelines within a single report?

Erik van Hurck: Very good. Very nice question. And welcome back, Tom. And so for it again, chart. And for two people that weren’t present at the previous webinar, we have a timeline option. And this timeline is a separate view from, for instance, the Gantt chart and the report. Now, being a view makes it very hard to have a life updated version of that timeline in the report itself. But what we can do is we can have a split view, just like we had with some of the other values, and having it like this will be updated version of that timeline, because it still currently is the life data coming from that separate view. So that is, as far as we can do with timelines in the reports.

But the second question that you had is can we have multiple timelines within a report, with the newer versions of Microsoft Project, and I do mean 2016 and 2019, top of mind, we can add multiple timeline bars, and we can add data for instance to a separate bar here and have that address a specific needs that we have for that section. So this is what you currently can do within the timeline. What I do also want to say is that you can have the copy timeline value. So once again, looking back at PowerPoint and Word, what you would do is you would create a full size copy of that timeline. And you could add that, for instance, in your report here and have that as an image, for instance.

So there are a couple of ways. The direct answer is no, there is no timeline within Microsoft Project reports. But you do have some tricks on getting that data visualized as well.

Kyle: Thank you, Erik, for taking that question and all the others as well. We do have a few questions left, but I know we’re getting close to the end of the session.

Erik van Hurck: Yeah, let’s do the bonus.

Kyle: Great.

Erik van Hurck: And we’ll see if we can answer one or two questions after that as well. So as mentioned at the beginning of this session, and I’m very happy that you are all here still listening to me, I have a bonus. And the bonus is send me an email with your reporting needs. And I will look at the requests and I will build one of those reports and share it on MPUG. I will include a file as well as the instructions on the how to use it yourself within Microsoft Project. Now there are some rules to this bonus item. This offer expires at the end of the year. I do want to keep receiving emails from you, obviously, and please feel free to ask me any questions about Microsoft Project.

But for this offer, it stands till the end of the year, one male per attendee and one report request. So don’t go and spam me with reporting needs. And make sure your email contains as much information as possible. So if you have mockups, share that with me. If you have current reports that you’re building in Excel, or that you’re building in other tools that you think can be done within Microsoft Project add that, and maybe you could share example of your current schedule, and I can give you some pointers in that as well.

So there is a recording being done from this session, and there is an option to take a screenshot from the current screen. And so please feel free to copy that right now. And I look forward to receiving emails from you. And in January, I will have that report and a nice little blog article on MPUG for you all to enjoy.

Kyle: Thank you so much, Erik. That’s a great bonus. And yeah, we look forward to seeing how that plays out in January.

Erik van Hurck: Yes. So wrapping up, and let’s have a few more questions at the end. What we’ve seen today is the latest version of Microsoft Project and their recording capabilities. So we had text based reports, we have external reports, but we currently have in application reporting capability. And that’s very powerful as we’ve seen. We’ve also seen how to customize that and how to visualize that. Make it a little brand aware, and how to share that reports. So thank you all very much for attending today’s session. And yeah, I hope people will come back for the third session in the visualization masterclass. And let’s have one or two questions remaining.

Kyle: Thanks, Erik. Yeah, we’ll sneak a couple questions in my building to take care of two in one here. So Miles and Janet both sent questions over. Miles was asking about copying and pasting outside of Microsoft Project. He was curious if that’s a live link or a simple copy of the situation at point. Janet was also curious about sharing reports. And if they could be placed on SharePoint team site easily.

Erik van Hurck: Okay, okay. So, for the first part, what do you actually copy. You actually copy a current state of the data. If we would grab this and we would copy that and we move that to for instance Word. There is no life link between the schedule and any changes that will happen there. There used to be a way to grab the data that was actually below this information, but it is the current version that you’re copying. So there’s no direct link within Project and Word active here.

Now, for the second question, we’re diving into a cloud based solution or a server solution. What would you like to see happening with these reports? They need to have a basis. And what I mean with a basis is that where does this visual land? Does it land within a Microsoft Word file or for instance, a PowerPoint and it will be easily shared through SharePoint team sites. You could also have them as an image. And then you could share that image by saving that on a SharePoint site.

Typically, it’s just a file format at that moment, and SharePoint has the ability to share that information. So concluding, no, there’s no live link. It’s the current state of that report. And yes, you can share that through different media. So you can store this in an office file such as Word and PowerPoint, you can navigate to SharePoint. You can even put that on OneDrive for Business, for instance.

Kyle: Awesome. Thanks, Erik. Might have time-

Erik van Hurck: Do one final question?

Kyle: Yeah.

Erik van Hurck: Yeah.

Kyle: Let’s here one more from Janet. Oh, I’m sorry, we just took care Janet, thanks for sending that question over. Regina asking, “Are there reports that show tasks that are falling behind schedule?”

Erik van Hurck: Yes, yes, there for sure are. And let me show that here where we have the new business plan, I’m going to navigate to just going to save the final version of this. So we have the reports. And then in the in progress, we have late tasks. And this report actually shows you there are late, compared to the status date. And here again, we jump back into what we’ve mentioned in a question before, it looks at the status date. Now if there is no status day, it will look at the current date. So if we would go in project information, we would set a status date as being Monday. This will look at the situation as being tasks that are late compared to Monday. And what we saw was that there actually dropped one of the tasks because it’s currently active in this week.

We can also move that status date to the future, where we can say, okay, on fifth of December, and we would see more tasks showing up. So if we do nothing, then more tasks will start falling behind. Yes. So that’s currently it for me. Please be aware that I do have an email address and a Twitter handle. Any questions that weren’t addressed today, just send them over and I’ll be sure to take a look at them.

Kyle: Excellent. Thanks, Erik. As Erik mentioned, there’s a screenshot icon at the top of the viewer window there so you can take a screenshot of Erik’s contact info, if you’d like to reach out or connect later. Thank you for the excellent part two, Erik. That was great. And thanks for offering up that additional bonus to the attendees of the session as well. That’s much appreciated. So everyone claiming the PDU code for today’s session, I’ll get that back on the screen for you now. And today’s hour and a half session is eligible for one and a half technical PMI PDUs, MPUG web and learn 10 16 19 is that code you’ll use to claim that. And part three of Erik’s series is on the calendar for next Wednesday at 12 PM Eastern. This will cover printing in Microsoft Project. So it’ll be a shorter session. That’ll be a half an hour chatted over the link, so be sure to register for that one and join us next Wednesday at noon. Also, chatted over the link to the Microsoft Project Do’s and Don’ts book.

You can learn more about what’s included in that book. Erik was a contributor on that. So we’re very happy to share that with the community as well. And that does it for today’s session. So once again, thank you, Erik, for an excellent part two of the series. Thanks to everyone that joined us live or is watching On Demand. We hope you have a great rest of your day. We’ll see you back for part three on next Wednesday.

Erik van Hurck: Thanks. Look forward to it.

Kyle: Thanks.

Erik van Hurck: Bye everyone. Have a great day.


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Written by Erik van Hurck

Erik van Hurck is a Senior PPM consultant for Projectum, a western European Microsoft Partner with offices in Denmark and The Netherlands. On top of that Erik is a Microsoft MVP. As such, Erik assists enterprise customers to adopt the new Power Platform cloud solutions for Project and Portfolio Management. Erik has a personal blog (www.theprojectcornerblog.com) and is also a writer for the Microsoft Project User Group (MPUG.com).

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