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Using Reporting Features in Microsoft Project 2013

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Using Earned Value Analysis

One of the many benefits of project management is the ability to perform earned value analysis. Note that this term is also often referred to as earned value management. This type of analysis allows you to view project statistics that reveal the overall health of the project based in terms of time and cost, while assisting you in revealing trends that can often be indicative of the eventual success or failure of the project. When you view information from earned value analysis within your project file, you compare figures at a specified date in the project file against figures from one of the saved baselines that you have within the project file. Note that you must have saved at least one baseline copy of the project file to show earned value analysis results. You must also have accurately recorded the actual work and costs within the project file. In addition, you must select a “status date,” so that Microsoft Office Project can compare the baseline values against the values recorded as of the status date. You can specify the “status date” by clicking the “Status Date:” calendar button within the “Status” group on the “Project” tab within the Ribbon. In the “Status Date” dialog box that appears, use the calendar drop-down to select a desired status date or simply type a date into the text box shown. Then click the “OK” button to set the status date.

Once you have accomplished these tasks, you can easily view the earned value schedule indicators for your project by clicking the “Tables” button in the “Data” group on the “View” tab in the Ribbon and choosing the “More Tables…” command from the drop-down menu. In the “More Tables” dialog box that appears, you can then select the “Earned Value Schedule Indicators” choice and then click the “Apply” button to display the values in the Gantt Chart view. Remember that these values are all set as of the selected “status date” for the project file. You can change that date in the “Project Information” dialog box to change the numbers shown in this view.

In this view you will see the following data: the planned value (PV), which is the budgeted cost of the work scheduled as of the status date; the earned value (EV), which is the budgeted cost of the work performed as of the status date; the schedule variance (SV), which is the difference between the EV and the PV values; the schedule variance percentage (SV%), which is the ratio of the SV to the PV expressed as a percentage; and the schedule performance index (SPI), which is an index value that basically shows how many cents of actual worth was accomplished by the status date for every dollar (1.00) that you planned to spend.

You can also view the earned value cost indicators for your project file in the table view of the Gantt Chart, as well. You can switch to this view by clicking the “Tables” button in the “Data” group on the “View” tab in the Ribbon and choosing the “More Tables…” command from the drop-down menu. In the “More Tables” dialog box that appears, you can then select the “Earned Value Cost Indicators” choice and then click the “Apply” button to display the values in the Gantt Chart view.

As with the earned value schedule indicators, you will see the planned value (PV) and earned value (EV) columns. Also within this view you will find: the cost variance (CV), which is the difference between the EV and the actual cost of work performed as of the status date; the cost variance percentage (CV%), which is the ratio of cost variance to PV expressed as a percentage; the cost performance index (CPI), which shows how many cents worth of work was accomplished for each dollar’s worth of work (1.00) that was spent; the budget at completion (BAC), which is the total baseline cost for the task; the estimate at completion (EAC), which represents the forecasted cost to complete a task; the variance at completion (VAC), which is the difference between the BAC and the EAC; and the “to complete performance index” (TCPI), which shows the ratio of work remaining to the budget remaining as of the status date.

Note that, for users of Microsoft Office Project 2013:2010 who also have Microsoft Excel installed, you can also create a visual “Earned Value Over Time” report. This is one of the many Excel reports that are available within Project. This report shows a standard “S-curve” line chart that traces the cumulative values of three key indicators over time. The three indicators shown in this report are: the actual cost of work performed (AC); the budgeted cost of work scheduled (Planned Value), and the budgeted cost of work performed (Earned Value).

To create this report in Microsoft Project 2013, click the “Visual Reports” button within the “Export” button group on the “Report” tab within the Ribbon. If using Microsoft Project 2010, click the “Visual Reports” button within the “Reports” group on the “Project” tab within the Ribbon.

At this point, in all versions of Project, the “Visual Reports” dialog box will appear. Note that you must have the “Microsoft Excel” checkbox checked at the top of this dialog box to show templates from Excel within the dialog box. Also, you must also have Microsoft Excel also installed on your computer.

To open the “Earned Value Over Time” report, click the “Assignment Usage” tab and then click the name of the report to select it. You can then click the “View” button within the “Visual Reports” dialog box to open Microsoft Excel and show the resultant chart and PivotTable for the report.

Once the report has been created in Excel, you can then manipulate it as needed to display the desired data. Note that there are many types of reports that are available for use within Project. When you have finished creating reports in Microsoft Project, you can click the “Close” button within the “Visual Reports” dialog box.

 

Selecting Report Objects

Starting in Project 2013, not only are there more reports available, you also have more control over the content and appearance of the data within the reports. The reports in Project 2013 display various types of report objects, such as tables and charts, displayed within a plain white background. These report objects then display data from the project file. These objects are independently selectable and editable. So we should first learn how to select and de-select the objects within reports. You can click on a report object to select it. When selected, you will see a border appear around the element within the report. You will also see a new contextual tab for the selected type of element appear within the Ribbon. For selected elements that display data from the project file, you will also often see the “Field List” of associated project file data fields appear at the right side of the application screen. To de-select a selected report object, click into the blank or empty area within the report. The object will hide its border and its associated contextual objects will hide their display, as well.

 

Changing the Report View

While you can modify the individual elements within a report, you can also modify many aspects of the report itself by using the “Design” tab of the “Report Tools” contextual tab that appears when you are viewing a report.

You can use the buttons within the “View” button group on the “Design” tab of the “Report Tools” contextual tab in the Ribbon to switch the view back to the Gantt Chart view or to view other recently viewed reports. You can click the “Gantt Chart” button to return to the Gantt Chart view of your project file. This corresponds to clicking the “Gantt Chart” button at the right end of the Status Bar. You can return to the report you were last viewing, if you switch to the Gantt Chart View, by clicking the “Report” button at the far right end of the Status Bar. Back in the Ribbon, you can click the “Recent” drop-down button in the “View” button group on the “Design” tab of the “Report Tools” contextual tab in the Ribbon to view a drop-down list of recently opened reports. You can then select the name of a recently viewed report to display it within project again.

Note that when switching between Gantt Chart View and Report view, the report section may lose focus within reports that contain a split window, causing the “Design” tab of the “Report Tools” contextual tab in the Ribbon to disappear. You simply need to click into the blank area of the report that appears at the top of the application window to display the “Design” tab of the “Report Tools” contextual tab in the Ribbon once again, if this occurs.

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