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Microsoft Project 2010 : Refining a Project Schedule (part 3) - Evaluating the Project Schedule - Reviewing Project Costs

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1/13/2015 2:53:36 AM

Reviewing Project Costs

By assigning work, material, and cost resources to tasks, Project can calculate the price tag for your project. You can show costs in many of the standard views by applying a table with cost fields. For example, the Gantt Chart view shows both costs for the entire project and individual tasks. The Cost table applied to a usage view shows the cost of individual assignments.

Initially, the Background Pattern uses a solid color. You can apply a hatch pattern or stipple the background, for example, to emphasize critical tasks on a black and white printout.

Figure 2. Initially, the Background Pattern uses a solid color. You can apply a hatch pattern or stipple the background, for example, to emphasize critical tasks on a black and white printout.

Workaround Workshop: The Ever-Changing Critical Path

The critical path can be a slippery path, too. Sometimes shortening a critical task adds a different task to the critical path that wasn’t there before. Conversely, since the critical path shows the longest path from start to finish, shortening a task may actually turn it into a noncritical task. To understand how this works, consider two tasks that start on the same day. The critical task takes 10 days, and the noncritical one takes 9 days. If you shorten the critical task to 8 days, it isn’t the longest path anymore, and it becomes a noncritical task. In the meantime, the 9-day task is now the longest and, thus, is now on the critical path.

Because the critical path changes, make sure you’re using the current critical path to choose the tasks you want to work on. Although the Critical filter initially shows only critical tasks, it doesn’t update itself as tasks change their critical status. To quickly reapply the current filter, press Ctrl+Shift+F3.

Here are a few ways to review project costs:

  • Reviewing total project cost . If the total price is the only thing that matters, look at the cost for the entire project. The project summary task is an easy way to see project-wide cost (Viewing the total project cost in the project summary task). Display the project summary task by choosing Format→Show/Hide and then turning on the Project Summary Task checkbox. When you’re ready to compare estimated cost to actual cost, the Project Statistics dialog box (Viewing the total project cost in the project summary task) can’t be beat.

  • Seeing costs in the table area. Apply the Cost table by choosing View→Data→Tables→Cost. As shown in Figure 3, the Total Cost cell for the project summary task represents the total cost of the project.

    The Total Cost cell for the project summary task is a rolled-up value of cost for every task in the project. Total cost includes labor and material costs, other costs you’ve assigned with cost resources, and any cost you’ve added as fixed cost. Project calculates this current estimate of the total cost by adding the actual cost of completed work to the estimated cost for work that hasn’t been done.

    Figure 3. The Total Cost cell for the project summary task is a rolled-up value of cost for every task in the project. Total cost includes labor and material costs, other costs you’ve assigned with cost resources, and any cost you’ve added as fixed cost. Project calculates this current estimate of the total cost by adding the actual cost of completed work to the estimated cost for work that hasn’t been done.

  • Review project statistics. The Project Statistics dialog box (Checking Status at the Project Level) provides an overview of project status. To open it, choose Project→Properties→Project Information, and then click Statistics.

  • Displaying task and assignment costs . To see task and assignment costs, simply apply the Cost table to the appropriate view (Changing Table Contents). The Cost table includes columns for planned and actual costs. For example, Baseline shows the cost when you saved the baseline, Actual is the actual cost for work completed so far, and Variance is the difference between the baseline and the current scheduled cost.

    The view you apply depends on which costs you want to see. If you apply the Cost table to task-oriented views, the table area shows task costs. In the Task Usage and Resource Usage views, the Cost table shows the total cost by task and assignment, while the timescale shows values for each time period, as shown in Figure 4.

Initially, usage views show only the Work field in the timescale. To see cost for each time period, right-click anywhere within the timescale, and then, on the shortcut menu, choose Cost. Project then adds a second row to each assignment for cost.

Figure 4. Initially, usage views show only the Work field in the timescale. To see cost for each time period, right-click anywhere within the timescale, and then, on the shortcut menu, choose Cost. Project then adds a second row to each assignment for cost.

Using Project cost reports

Project includes several reports that show you project costs—both text reports and the visual reports. You can use these reports to look at cost for tasks and assignments or to evaluate cash flow over time. Whether text or visual, budget reports show overall cost, while cash flow reports show cost by time period. You can choose from the following reports:

  • Budget report. The text-based Budget report is like a hard copy of the Cost table. It shows total cost, baseline, and actual costs for each task. One difference is that this report sorts tasks by total cost in descending order, which can be helpful for finding tasks that may be breaking your budget.

  • Cash Flow report. The text-based Cash Flow report shows Total Cost by week. The last row in the report sums the weekly total costs for all tasks. The last column in the report shows total cost for each task over the full project duration.

  • Budget Cost Report visual report . This report displays costs in an Excel pivot table. The Chart1 worksheet contains a Microsoft Excel chart that initially shows cost by quarter. Display the Assignment Usage worksheet to view the data behind the chart and to use pivot table tools to modify the costs you see (Filtering the data that appears).

  • Cash Flow Report visual report . Project has one Excel-based cash flow visual report and two Microsoft Visio visual reports (one metric and one using US dimensions). Cash Flow Report is an Excel pivot table rendition of project costs initially by quarter, as shown in Figure 5.

To open a text-based cost report, choose Project→Reports→Reports. In the Reports dialog box, double-click Costs. In the Cost Reports dialog box, double-click the report you want to see. To open a visual report, choose Project→Reports→Visual Reports. In the Visual Reports dialog box, double-click the name of the visual report you want to generate. 

You can modify the time periods that you see in the chart by switching to the Task Usage worksheet. As you expand and collapse time periods, the chart on the Chart1 worksheet follows suit.

Figure 5. You can modify the time periods that you see in the chart by switching to the Task Usage worksheet. As you expand and collapse time periods, the chart on the Chart1 worksheet follows suit.

 
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- Microsoft Project 2010 : Refining a Project Schedule (part 2) - Evaluating the Project Schedule - Finding the Best Tasks to Shorten
- Microsoft Project 2010 : Refining a Project Schedule (part 1) - Evaluating the Project Schedule - Comparing Finish Dates to Deadlines
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