MS Project 2013: Stay on budget with Cost Overview Reports

what's new in office 2013Cost Overview Reports

Where is your spend going? Could your resources be better allocated? Cost Overview reports in MS Project are a great way of keeping track of your budget in a way that’s digestible and simple to share with colleagues and clients.

The Cost Overview report shows the following prior to setting a baseline:

  • Costs, Remaining Costs and % complete.
  • A chart of cumulative costs.
  • A chart of cost status for top level tasks.
  • A cost status table for top level tasks.

Cost Overview in MS Project

A great way of breaking down your data, the Cost Overview Reports clearly indicate where your money has been spent to date and the relative progress of your project as a percentage.

Cost Overview with a baseline set

The baseline cost shows the total planned cost for a project or task. We often talk about Earned Value in Project Management, and in this instance the baseline cost is often referred as the Budget at Completion.

Cost Overview in MS Project

In the above graph the baseline cost is displayed as a grey line in the cost status graph.

Tip: You can edit or add elements to the chart simply by clicking anywhere on the chart.

Reporting changes to a project

In the same example the first two phases were completed as planned. The current date is 31/5/13 and there is a delay of 4 days with excavation due to bad weather.  The project plan shows which tasks are complete.

Reports in MS Project

The Cost Overview Report will update simultaneously and reflects the changes made, showing the project as 14% complete. The cost status table identifies the cost variance for the Foundation phase.

Cost Overview

Project Statistics

The data alone is visualised beautifully in MS Project 2013, but often needs to be shared with clients, colleagues and stakeholders. Fortunately, as with the complete Office 2013 suite, sharing has been simplified meaning files can be saved and emailed from within the application. This sort of data can also be exported to create a killer PowerPoint presentation.

Find out more great advice like this with a Best STL course on Microsoft Project training London and UK wide.

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Project 2013: Burndown charts help track work

what's new in office 2013Project 2013 comes with a brand new set of pre-designed reports and dashboards to help you better understand your data. You can visualise performance and analyse resources in ways that weren’t previously possible in Microsoft Project.

The burndown report is a much-requested feature that will be especially interesting to those of you practicing agile and Scrum-based methodology. Typically updated every day, this report is a common focal point of the daily scrum meeting.

Previously to see a burndown chart you had to employ some hacks and Excel templates to achieve the desired result. From Project 2013 it’s available as a standard report type.

Burndown charts in Project 2013

Select Report > Dashboard > Burndown

Burndown in Microsoft Project 2013

Usually the chart tracks work remaining (in time, effort points or quantity of tasks) against the date. One line represents how much work has been completed, a baseline of when to complete and the ‘perfect’ trajectory of task completion.

How is this chart useful?

Instead of tracking the amount of things done, the burndown chart reports on the amount of ‘effort’ or work left in the project phase. In other words you are ‘burning down’ the work. It will also predict based on current work rate whether the project will hit the target completion date. You’ll discover very soon whether the team is working at a fast enough rate. It’s great to get advance notice of how things are progressing and be able to adapt your project or adjust expectations sooner rather than later.

It can also be used to see whether a project team is over-performing and going to finish early. While this is usually good news this information can prove very useful in your next post-mortem. Do the team need to work on their task estimations? Or was the work completed to a less acceptable standard?

Find out more great advice like this with a Best STL course on Microsoft Project training London and UK wide.