The ins and outs of a project may be hard to grasp at times and a good way to get information across is via Excel's visual reports.

These functions are a great way to understand assignments from different perspectives, which is useful if you're unsure about some aspects of the campaign, such as your current resource usage. Another way that visual reports prove their worth is by communicating the progression of your initiative to those who are not directly involved. Team leaders like to take advantage of report functions in order to give more weight to presentations or to clarify specific areas of the task concerned.

Types of report

These functions are ideal if you plan to team Excel with Microsoft Project. Much planning needs to go into large assignments and it's likely that you have spent a lot of time organising staff, budgets and the smaller tasks that need to be completed to ensure objectives are reached. As well as keeping in touch with colleagues and your managers concerning the project, you may also have to include stakeholders in meetings that focus on the task.

Rather than show them figures that reflect how many staff are working on which task for instance, it's appreciated when this kind of data is transformed into images that make immediate sense to those listening/viewing. An important category of visual report that you can generate through Excel are those that reveal information about the resources you use. Resources generally refer to the number of staff that are scheduled to work with you, although this is not always the case.

Within this group are lots of different options, so if you wish to show the amount of work to be carried out and the availability of employees you're free to select the Resource Work Summary Report. Further files can be created of this type using lots of different data, such as figures that reflect the baseline and planned costs of the initiative - which assists budgeting - and outstanding work that needs to be completed by resources.

Make your own report or use templates

Excel and Project work together by giving you many options when it comes to compiling different reports. There are functions that allow you to easily locate the templates you need, and edit the ones that you have already activated. There are a few ways that you're able to find and select the visual reports that you need.

For example, it's possible to link in other software with Project to generate visual reports, such as Visio but if you want to navigate to those that only work with Excel then simply click the correct icon in the Reports group, which is located in the View tab. To make the most of the data associated with the project, it's likely that you'll want to put-together a series of reports with all the necessary fields. Navigating to the View tab and choosing the Visual Report feature will see you being able to create new files and import information from Excel worksheets.

Changing and moving on data

Many assignments require some degree of flexibility when it comes to their planning and execution. For example, you might find that the number of staff available to work on your project shrinks for some reason, due to cuts or absences.

It's important to be able to edit this kind of information and show its impact visually, which is all possible thanks to Project and Excel. On the other hand, if you wish to use the data with other software, such as database application Access then this is also possible. Graphs and reports using this programme can also be tailored by you to get your message heard.