A question that often comes up in Sensei Training is, “How often should we process updates to be able to monitor and control our schedules?”
When I answer this question, I always stress that it is crucial that project plans are first updated each week so that reporting is accurate, and that the appropriate corrective actions are performed — only then end users can trust the data quality and ensure the effectiveness of the system … so yes, weekly is best practice!
Depending on the complexity of your projects, I recommend spending 2-4 hours on the first day of each reporting period to take the appropriate steps to process weekly updates in Microsoft PPM.
1. Approve Status Updates in PWA
If your organisation uses the ‘Timesheet’ or ‘Tasks’ functionality in PWA, of course, the first step is to ensure that all team members have submitted updates. You may run a timesheet compliance report if available or simply encourage team members to submit updates at the end of each week. Ensure that all your project plans are not checked out in any session before you preview the impact to your schedule and accept all pending status updates from all the projects you manage from the ‘Approvals (Tasks)’ page. Updates are not automatically applied to an open plan.
Note: It’s best to approve task updates in one project at a time. Changes will not be visible to the organisation in PWA and reports until project plan is published.
2. Update the project Status Date in MS Project
The ‘Status Date’ typically represents the last day of the previous reporting period and the date as of which your project plan information is current. Update this date from the ‘Project ribbon > Status section’, then the ‘Status Date’ button to open the ‘Status Date’ dialog. Select the date that the current timesheet period ended on (often the Saturday of Sunday prior depending on your organisation’s policies,) not the current date.
3. Track Progress for Local Resources in MS Project
If you allocated work to local resources in your project plan, you will need to manually enter progress for them using the built-in assignment view called ‘Resource Usage.’ You can also use this method to record status updates obtained from enterprise resources if they are not required to use timesheets in PWA. Make sure to right-click anywhere in the time phased grid on the right side of the view to add the ‘Actual Work’ rows and directly enter the hours of work done per day for each assignment. Update the ‘Remaining Work’ column to reflect the estimate to complete from the resource.
4. Update project Milestone Status in MS Project
Because project milestones do not appear on anyone’s timesheets in PWA, the project manager must manually mark all project milestones as complete. Use the built-in view called ‘Tracking Gantt’ and apply the ‘Milestone’ filter from ‘View ribbon > Data section’ to display only the milestones. Set the ‘Actual Start’ date to record the milestone date and click the “100% Complete” button from the “Task ribbon > Schedule section’
5. Update project Costs in MS Project
If standard rates for work resources are set in PWA, tracking and processing the work completed by the project’s resources automatically calculates the amount of the actual project (labour) cost maintained in the project plan. However, other actual costs require separate attention for tracking.
- ‘Material’ resource usage is tracked manually using a similar method discussed on ‘Track Progress for Local Resources;’ only this time, you must directly enter the units on the ‘Actual Work’ rows to drive the actual ‘material’ costs. Make sure to right-click anywhere in the time phased grid on the right side of the view to add the ‘Cost’ and ‘Actual Cost’ rows. Do not forget to update any remaining material requirements in the ‘Remaining Work’ column.
- Other costs can be recorded directly against the appropriate tasks using the ‘Actual Cost’ row for the appropriate dates in the time phased grid. The ‘Remaining Cost’ column should also be updated to reflect the current estimates.
6. Update Project KPI in MS Project
The cost, schedule and work KPIs are automatically calculated for you based on the current project status against the original baseline. You will need to update the ‘Project KPI’ field yourself. If your organisation does not use any ‘Project Status’ PDP, you can go to the ‘Project ribbon > Properties section’ then click the ‘Project Information’ button to be able to select the ‘Project KPI’ value for this field to represent the actual project status based on your professional judgement.
7. Reschedule Incomplete Work from the Past
Project delivery does not always go as planned so having late tasks in the schedule is expected while obviously not ideal. This simply means that the assigned resource can no longer complete the work on those tasks on the originally planned date. As this work still needs to happen, we need to reschedule any incomplete work to a date (typically past the ‘Status Date’) when it can be completed. You can do this from the ‘Project ribbon > Status section’ then ‘Update Project.’ Select the ‘Reschedule uncompleted work to start after’ option (not Update work as complete through’) and ensure that the current ‘Status Date’ value and ‘Entire project’ option are selected.
After completing steps 1 through 7, you can take a step back and look at the impact of the processed weekly updates to your project plan — resource overallocation, schedule slippage, etc. Get ready to identify the variances and take corrective actions.
This article contains text and images from the book Proactive PPM with Microsoft Project 2016 for Project Server and Project Online written by Kenneth Steiness and Dale Howard and published by Sensei Project Solutions.
About Francis L, Training Consultant, Sensei Project Solutions
Francis is a seasoned Training Consultant and Proactive PPM enthusiast with over 10 years of Workplace Learning and Performance experience. He is a Microsoft Certified Professional specializing in Microsoft Project and Project Online/Server on a mission to help individuals and organisations achieve Instant Productivity and their greatest potential. Francis is known for a highly creative and engaging style of presenting and training.