Though Microsoft Office Project 2007 makes tracking (tracking: Viewing and updating of the actual progress of tasks so that you can see progress across time, evaluate slippage of tasks, compare scheduled or baseline data to actual data, and check the completion percentage of tasks and your project.) easy, there are several steps to take before you can begin tracking project progress. First, decide which tracking method to use and which items to track, such as task start (start date: The date when a task is scheduled to begin. This date is based on the duration, calendars, and constraints of predecessor and successor tasks. A task's start date is also based on its own calendars and constraints.) and finish dates (finish date: The date that a task is scheduled to be completed. This date is based on the task's start date, duration, calendars, predecessor dates, task dependencies, and constraints.), work (work: For tasks, the total labor required to complete a task. For assignments, the amount of work to which a resource is assigned. For resources, the total amount of work to which a resource is assigned for all tasks. Work is different from task duration.), and resource costs. Then, make sure that your team is set up for the tracking method you've chosen.
Tip This article is part of a series of articles within the Project Map that describe a broad set of project management activities. We call these activities "goals" because they are organized around the project management life cycle: Build a plan, track and manage a project, and close a project.
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Prepare to compare project information over time You might need to create or save original project estimates and actual project data, which you compare to determine progress.
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Prepare to collect data manually Although the fastest and easiest way to collect project status information is to use Project Server 2007, you might need or want to collect that information manually.
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For example, you might not have an e-mail system or access to an intranet or the Internet, or your project might be so small that it takes you little time to collect the data yourself.
When you decide to collect project status data manually, remember that you also have to enter the data into your project plan manually. Here are some points to keep in mind:
- Decide which project information you want to track and update For example, you can update start and finish dates for tasks (task: An activity that has a beginning and an end. Project plans are made up of tasks.), task completion percentages, and costs (cost: The total scheduled cost for a task, resource, or assignment, or for an entire project. This is sometimes referred to as the current cost. In Project, baseline costs are usually referred to as "budget.").
- Identify and collect data from the sources of the information For example, to update start and finish dates, collect actual dates from the resources (resources: The people, equipment, and material that are used to complete tasks in a project.) who are assigned to tasks. To collect cost data, you may need to get actual costs (actual cost: The cost that has actually been incurred to date for a task, resource, or assignment. For example, if the only resource assigned to a task gets paid $20 per hour and has worked for two hours, the actual cost to date for the task is $40.) from accounting personnel.
- Decide on a data collection method You can actively collect data by phoning your sources or going door to door to interview them. Or you can ask your sources to fill out a form and give it to you.
- Decide on and stick to a realistic collection schedule How often do you want or need to collect and update project information? Once a week? Once a month? Picking a frequency that's convenient and fits into your schedule (schedule: The timing and sequence of tasks within a project. A schedule consists mainly of tasks, task dependencies, durations, constraints, and time-oriented project information.) increases the likelihood that you'll collect project status information and incorporate it into the project plan.
- Decide on the time interval at which you want to incorporate actual data into your project plan For example, you can incorporate actual cost per month, per week, per day, or per hour. By using the timephased (timephased: Task, resource, or assignment information that is distributed over time. You can review timephased information in any available time period in the fields on the right side of the Task Usage and Resource Usage views.) views in Project 2007 (the Task Usage view and the Resource Usage view), you can change the timescale (timescale: The time period indicator at the top of the Gantt views, the Resource Graph view, the Task Usage view, and the Resource Usage view. You can customize it to show up to three tiers that can display various time units: top, middle, and bottom.) and update actual data at the level of granularity you need.
By keeping your team's status reporting method as simple as the needs of the project allow, you are more likely to get timely information.
Prepare to collect data Choose a manual or electronic system to collect the task status information you need in order to track the progress of your project.
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- View or change the URL for connecting to Project Server so team members can use this URL (URL: Uniform Resource Locator, which is a standard for naming and locating an object on the Internet, such as a file or newsgroup. URLs are used extensively on the World Wide Web. They are used in HTML documents to specify the target of a hyperlink.) in their browsers (browser: A program that interprets the HTML delivered from Web servers, formats it, and displays it to the user.) to access the Microsoft Office Project Web Access home page.
- Publish the latest plan and team assignments to request that a team member accept a task assignment (assignment: A specific resource that is assigned to a particular task.). You can use the status reporting available in Office Project Web Access to track and update task progress.
Prepare to track procurement progress You may want to monitor how close you are to getting the goods and services that you need to complete project tasks.
As you procure (procure: To obtain the work and material resources required to complete a project.) products and services, you can follow their status throughout the procurement process. For example, at a minimum you may want to know whether a product or service is out for bid, under evaluation, or under contract, as well as the name of a selected supplier (supplier: A contractor, vendor, or other agency that supplies a material, product, or service that is required to complete a project.).
With Project 2007, you can track procurement progress by inserting the fields (field: A location in a sheet, form, or chart that contains a specific kind of information about a task, resource, or assignment. For example, in a sheet, each column is a field. In a form, a field is a named box or a place in a column.) you need into task sheet (sheet: A spreadsheet-like representation [in rows and columns] of task or resource information. Each row specifies an individual task or resource. Each column [field] specifies a type of information, such as start dates or standard rates.) views, and then tracking their progress.
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See all goals on the Project Map