Create amazing Reports with Microsoft Project

When managing a project using Microsoft Project, stakeholders often need to receive progress updates. Because not everyone can read a Gantt chart, MS Project comes with a set of pre-designed reports and dashboards to help you better understand your data. You can easily create amazing reports with Microsoft Project. Below is an explanation of the different types of report that can be created.

Dashboard Report Types

Project Reports

Burndown

How much is completed on a project and what’s left to be done.

Cost Overview

The current status of top level tasks showing planned, remaining costs and cumulative costs.

Project Overview

How much of your project is complete, upcoming milestones, and tasks that are past due.

Upcoming tasks

The work that has been done in the current week, the status of any remaining tasks that were due, and what tasks are starting in the next week.

Other Report Types

Cash Flow

The cost and cumulative cost per quarter for all top level (summary) tasks.

Resource Cost Overview

The cost status of work resources showing cost details in a table and a chart showing cost distribution.

New Reports from templates

Chart
A chart for your project data, showing actual work, remaining work, and work by default.

Table
A table for your project data, showing the Name, Start, Finish, and % Complete fields.

Comparison
Two charts side-by-side, showing the same project data.

Visual Reports

View visual reports instantly in Excel or Visio

In MS Project, you can also view specific project data as a visual report in Excel or Visio, if you have those programs installed. Select Reports, Visual Reports, select an Excel or Visio report for your project data, and click View. Excel builds a local Online Analytical Processing (OLAP) cube file and shows your data in an Excel PivotChart or Visio PivotDiagram. This is a legacy feature from MS Project 2010 and earlier.

MS Project Visual Reports

Examples of Reports

Here are a few visual examples based on a sample project.

Cost Overview

Create amazing Reports with Microsoft Project

The Cost Overview report shows the following:

  • 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.
Reporting changes to a project

In the same example, the first two phases of the project were completed as planned. There is a delay of 4 days with excavation due to bad weather.  The project plan shows which tasks are complete.

Gantt Chart

The Cost Overview Report now reflects the changes made and shows the project as 14% complete. The Cost Status table identifies the cost variance for the Foundation phase.

Create amazing Reports with Microsoft Project

Project Statistics

Burndown

Select Report, Dashboard, Burndown to show graphically how much work and how many tasks are completed as well as what’s left to be done.

Create amazing Reports with Microsoft Project

Overallocated Resources Report

Select Report, Resources, Overallocated Resources to identify which resources are overallocated and at what points in the project. This is a great way of seeing where unnecessary costs are being lost.

Overallocated Resources

Cashflow Report

Being able to report and analyse your cash flow visually is a great way to track the spend of a project. It also makes the data digestible and ideal for sharing with clients and colleagues via email or PowerPoint presentation.

Select Reports, Cost, Cash Flow to see a chart and table of the project cash flow.

To change the timescale of the report from quarters to months:

Select the chart, click the Edit button for the Time category in Field List and choose Months.

Cash Flow

To learn how you can create amazing reports and project plans with Microsoft Project, why not consider an STL training course on Microsoft Project.

Motivate your Team for better Results

Motivating a team is often an acquired skill, especially when working remotely. A recent article by Forbes makes interesting reading on how you can motivate your team for better results.

One model of motivation comes from the work of Torrington and Hall. Here they combine many of the more recent motivational theories to create a succinct checklist of factors:

  • Variety in the work individuals carry out
  • Autonomy in determining methods and tools of work
  • Responsibility in making decisions, problem solving
  • Challenge – stretching the individual to meet objectives
  • Interaction – Necessary contact with others for performance
  • Significance – Identity and contribution, recognition for work
  • Goals and Feedback – Knowing what we are aiming for and how we are doing

However good the checklist above is, remember that we are all different! What may motivate one member of your team may have zero effect on another.

Motivate your Team for better Results

If you don’t know where to even start with motivating someone in your team, here are three things you could do:

Ask questions

Sometimes we lack courage to ask what motivates another person for fear that they will take it as a negative. This may be true, but not in every case. The more we can find out about what satisfies someone, the more we can shape their work to bring it in line with the checklist above.

Example: One person may do much better in a role if it requires them to interact with others. Being able to discuss and create from conversation may work much better for them than asking them to deliver a task on their own.

Observe where their energy is

Observing each other is something we all do all the time. However, when we take time to carefully observe what others do, we may gain some surprising ideas. In fact, we can use observation to generate a strategy together, and in this way improve their role for them so that they are more motivated.

Example: We may notice that one of our team always increases the scope or challenge of their work. Here, we could discuss with them how they would like to make their work even more challenging and responsible, to maintain their engagement.

Create some experiments

Certain team members are harder to gauge. They may not yet know what really motivates them. In this case, it may be worth having a conversation with them to create some small experiments. In doing this, we can start on a path of finding out what motivates them best.

Example: We could increase the variety in their activities and give them more choice in how they do their work (autonomy). We could also experiment with more precise, clear, and chunk-sized goals and feedback. 

In Summary

As managers and team leaders, we probably work with all three of these: asking questions, observing, and experimenting. This is time well spent, as increased motivation leads to increased productivity.

Recent research shows motivation to be more intrinsic in nature. This clip by Daniel Pink, on his research about the surprising things that motivate us, may be useful:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc

PS Are you recently promoted to a role managing people? You might like to read this next:

https://www.stl-training.co.uk/b/3-tips-for-success-in-your-new-leadership-role/

These are just a few thoughts on how to motivate your team for better results. A motivated team will be more productive, and therefore, profitability will increase.