Goal: Set up a project for tracking

Though Microsoft Office Project 2007 makes tracking 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 and finish dates, work, 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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number 1  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.

Click all of the following that apply:

  • Create or update a baseline or an interim plan so that later you can compare the information in your baseline plan or your interim plan to your up-to-date schedule or baseline later in the project. Saving a baseline plan enables you to identify and solve discrepancies and plan more accurately for similar future projects.

  • Save a version of a project to Project Server to save different versions of a project that your project management administrator wants for comparing, modeling, and archiving.

  • Compare two versions of a project to review differences between a current version and an earlier version of the same project in a detailed report, without using Microsoft Office Project Server 2007.

Number 2  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 completion percentages, and costs.

  • Identify and collect data from the sources of the information    For example, to update start and finish dates, collect actual dates from the resources who are assigned to tasks. To collect cost data, you may need to get actual costs 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 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 views in Project 2007 (the Task Usage view and the Resource Usage view), you can change the timescale 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.

Number 3  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.

Click in the following order:

  1. View or change the URL for connecting to Project Server so team members can use this URL in their browsers to access the Microsoft Office Project Web Access home page.

  2. Publish the latest plan and team assignments to request that a team member accept a task assignment. You can use the status reporting available in Office Project Web Access to track and update task progress.

Number 4  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 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.

With Project 2007, you can track procurement progress by inserting the fields you need into task sheet views, and then tracking their progress.

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