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Monday, December 21, 2015

Free Microsoft Project Tutorials

Thank you for being a part of the Versatile Company’s community of project management practice. Your continued interest in blogs and webinars have been amazing this year.

This is your personal invitation to view my Microsoft Project tutorials. These tutorials are fifteen short video tips on how to get the most out of Microsoft Project. Please enjoy them and share them with others.


Look for more tips, webinars and insights in 2016!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Finally. Multiple Timelines!

I have eagerly waited for Project 2016. The idea that it could give me multiple timelines really captured my imagination. An entire Timeline for milestones and Gates plus another Timeline for phases is now a real possibility!

In fact, you may have up to 10 Timelines in Project now. What will you do with 10 Timelines? Stay tuned and I will give you a blog entry focused entirely on this feature and examples of usage. In the meantime, click on the graphic below to check out Multiple Timelines.


Monday, May 4, 2015

Office 2016 Public Preview Announced!

Today Microsoft announced the availability of Office 2016 Preview for Consumers and Enterprise!

Interested? Look into it HERE.

Cautions and Information from Microsoft: 

1. You must uninstall Office 2013 before you can install the Office 2016 Preview.

2. Office 2016 Preview supports PCs or Windows tablets running Windows 7 or higher. View the Office system requirements for more information.

3. The Office 2016 Preview is a self-supported program. To find out more, review What's New and Known Issues for Office 2016 Preview, or visit the Office 2016 Preview Community, where you can ask questions and get answers from other Office 2016 Preview users.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Duration Demystification

When I was a new user of Project, the term “duration” was a very strange notion to me. How can a task be 5 days in duration when starting on a Thursday and ending on the following Wednesday? That is a 7 day time period! It just didn’t add up.

The answer is perspective. From the perspective of work, the 7 day time period contains 5 work days and 2 non-working days. From the calendar perspective the same 7 day period is measured in consecutive days from the start to the finish. Both are legitimate expressions of duration but used for different purposes. Working durations are for team scheduling. Elapsed durations are for other scheduling purposes. This blog entry illustrates both.

A few definitions are in order. Project knows to use elapsed durations when the letter “e” is entered prior to the unit of measure. The following table should help you understand it.

Duration Entry:


1 Day (“1d”)

1 workday of 8 hours

1 Elapsed Day (“1ed”)

1 calendar day of 24 consecutive hours

1 Week (“1w”)

5 workdays of 8 hours each

1 Elapsed Week (“1ew”)

7 consecutive calendar days of 24 hour periods

1 Month (“1mon”)

22 workdays of 8 hours each

1 Elapsed Month (1”emon”)

30 consecutive calendar days of 24 hour periods.

Durations are expressed in minutes, hours, days, weeks and months. Each work duration has a commensurate elapsed duration. Note however that the units of measure in the “Meaning” column above are different, and need to be considered when assigning resources.

For example:  A resource assigned to a one day (“1d”) task will be assigned 8 hours of work. If assigned to a one elapsed day (“1ed”) task, the resource will be assigned 24 consecutive hours of work.

When scheduling tasks confusing work duration and elapsed duration can have an adverse affect on the length of a project. In the figures below I have included both types of durations as delay and included the delay as a task in the dependency chain. Note that the delay expressed as a normal duration is longer than the delay expressed as elapsed duration and thus two different project durations are possible. (Click on the images to enlarge)



Now that you’ve seen the two duration types used by Project mindful consideration should be given to enter the appropriate duration value in the task duration field.

Good luck on your projects! If you found this blog entry informative, send me an email, won’t you? I love to hear from my readers.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Do’s and Don’ts: Do Create a Risk Assessment Dashboard (Part Four)

This posting will make the most sense if the previous three posts are read in order beforehand:

Part One is HERE;

Part Two is HERE;

Part Three is HERE.

In this final post of the series I will create a custom group for use in reporting and graphing purposes. The report will look similar to the figure below at the end of this blog. Click on any figure in this post to enlarge it.


The first step is to create the custom group so it can be used in reporting, charting and graphing:

1. Click on the “View” tab then click on the “Group By:” list in the “Data” command group.

2. Click on “New Group By…” in the list.

3. In the “Group Definition” dialog, enter the data as itemized in the figure below, then click on “Save”.


4. Test the new group by choosing it from the “Group By:” list. Notice the location of the group in the figure below.


5. After successfully applying the”Risk Level” group, clear the group by choosing “[No Group]” from the “Group By:” list.

The second step is to create the “Risk Analysis” report and graph:

6. Click on the “Report tab, then “New Report”.

7. From the choices offered choose “Comparison”. This will enable you to have multiple charts that graph work against cost and grouped by risk level. See the figure below for detail.


8. The “Report Name“ dialog will appear asking you to name the new report. I chose “Risk Analysis” for consistency. After the name is entered, click on the “OK” button.


9. Project creates the “Risk Analysis” report and places you in the “Design” tab. Note this is initially a blank slate. We will have to insert the charts for work and cost, then format them. It should look like the figure below.


10. Click on the “Chart” button located in the “Insert” command group. The “Insert Chart” dialog will appear. Since we will be using multiple fields and data sets, we will need a “Clustered Column” type of chart. Just click on the “OK” button to create it. The figure below points out the locations and selections for this new chart.


11. The basic chart is created and ready for formatting. Note that Project has placed you in “Chart Tools” for that purpose. Also note the fields compared in the chart. The fields are made visible or not by checking the “Select Field” in the “Field List” on the side of the screen. See figure below for location of these details.


12. Add the “Risk Level” Group to the chart. At the bottom of the “Field List” find the “Group By:” list and choose the “Risk Level” group. The chart changes by organizing the amount of work by low, medium or high risk. See the diagram below for details.


13. Give the chart a Data Table. From the “Design” tab, click on “Add Chart Element”. Click on “Data Table” and click on “No Legend Keys”. You should get a chart formatted close to that of the figure below.


14. The chart would be clearer with a title. Click on “Add Chart Element” again and click on “Chart Title” and “Above Chart”.


15. When you click on your new chart, it now has the name “Chart Title”. Click in the title and change it to something descriptive like “Work Totals by Risk Level”.


16.  You can now format the chart to whatever chart type you find works for you by clicking on the chart and choosing “Change Chart Type” from the “Design” tab in “Chart Tools”. The charts at the beginning of this blog entry were “3-D Column” if you wish to replicate that format.

17. If you wish to add a “Cost Totals by Risk Level” chart, follow exactly the same steps as steps 10 – 16, only use “Actual Cost”, Remaining Cost” and “Cost” fields from the “Field List”. You will need to modify the new chart’s title and possibly position the charts by clicking and dragging them where you want them.

Now that you’ve tried creating custom reports, experiment with them! Powerful options are a click away. Try inserting a table to the report you just made. Try inserting a picture. These reporting elements and more are waiting for your discovery in the “Design” tab and in the “Insert” command group.

Projects can be risky business. In this four part series you have learned a very basic technique to identify, assess and convey the state of risks in your project. You have created custom fields in custom tables. You created a formula that drives graphical indicators, learned in-field and custom grouping and created a custom report that makes visible the work and costs of a project in terms of risk levels.

Your next challenge is to manage project risk relentlessly by continually re-evaluating risk, keeping risk data current, and making data informed decisions to keep moving forward.

Did you enjoy this series? I sincerely hope that they were helpful. If so, please send me an email. I love to hear from my readers!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Do’s and Don’ts: Do Create a Risk Assessment Dashboard (Part Three)

In Part One of this series I illustrated a simple method to identify, quantify and evaluate risk in tasks and projects. If you missed it, you can read it HERE.

Part Two illustrated how to use the information from Part One to create a “Risk Assessment Dashboard”, complete with a custom table, lookup tables, formulae and graphical indicators. You can read it HERE.

This blog entry will show how to use the new “Risk Assessment Dashboard” in data grouping. When the custom fields were created in Part Two, Project was ready to group them. Once grouped, tables could be employed to view specific types of information such as how much work or cost is anticipated for each level of risk. See the figure below for details. Click on any figure in this post to enlarge the figure.


Grouping a field is built into the AutoFiltering feature in Project. Select the “Risk Assessment Table”, then check that field grouping is available by first examining the “Risk Severity” field’s column heading. If you see a list icon to the right of the field description, you can begin grouping immediately. The figure  below illustrates where the list icon is in the column heading.


If it’s enabled, click on it and you’ll be rewarded with a list of options including “Group on this field”.


When selected, the grouping is presented. Note that data in  each group is being summarized via data rollup in the figure below. At this point choose the table that meets your need, such as “Cost” or “Work”. The first figure in this post is displaying the Cost table.


If AutoFiltering is turned off and the list icon is not visible, turn it on! Choose the “View” tab and click on the “Filter:” list icon to get the list of filters and filtering options. Click on the “Display AutoFilter” option.


When it is time to remove the group, ensure you are back in the “Risk Assessment Table”, then click on the group’s field heading and choose “No Group”.  You’ll be returned to the ungrouped table.

In Part Four of this series I will use the fields, the formulae, graphical indicators and grouping from this blog entry to report on risk. I will illustrate how to use a defined custom data group to summarize the cost, work and schedule that is developed in the project so far by their respective risk severity. Then we’ll graph it!

Did you enjoy this blog post? If so, please let me know! I love to hear from my readers.