Project Management

MS Project: Download a tool that compares project versions

Microsoft has a new tool for MS Project that allows you to compare two versions of the same project file or to contrast two possible projections. Brian Kennemer explains how to use this free add-in.

Comparing two versions of the same project in MS Project is now a simpler task, thanks to an add-in from Microsoft. The Compare Project Versions add-in will generate a detailed report, highlighting the differences between two files. Here’s how the add-in works and how you can use it to compare saved versions of the same project or two similar projects.

The tool is a COM add-in that adds VBA code and a toolbar to the Global template of your installation of Project 2000.

To download the free add-in, which can only be used with Project 2000, visit the Microsoft Office Update Website.

How it works
Here’s an example of how this add-in works. Let’s say we have a project called “Version One.” It contains two tasks: Task One and Task Two as seen below.

Tasks of “Version One”

We can see that each task is one day in duration with Task One starting on 11/13 and Task Two beginning on 11/14.

Next, I altered this project and saved it as a different file. In this example I changed the start date for Task One and increased the duration of Task Two. I also added a Task Three to the project and then saved this new version as a project called “Version Two.”

Tasks of “Version Two”

This is, of course, a simplistic example, but you can imagine the value of being able to compare projects with 50 or more tasks that have been edited, deleted, or added. The Compare Project Versions add-in allows you to open two versions of a project and click a button to generate a comprehensive report. To begin, just click the button on the toolbar for the dialog box shown below:

Compare Project Versions dialog box

In this dialog box you specify which of the projects you have opened in Project 2000 is the earlier version and which is the later version. You also specify which Task and Resource table should be used to compare the two projects. When you click the OK button, the screen will flash a bit, and then you will see the following report.

Comparison report

Notice that the newly added Task Three is highlighted and colored green in the comparison report. The report includes a Duration column for VI and V2 and a Duration Diff column. These three columns will appear for any field that is different between the two versions.

You can also see two different sets of Gantt bars. The dark red bars show the state of the task in the earlier version, and the green bars indicate the state in the later version.

This report also has a unique method of displaying the differences between projects in the Predecessors or Text fields. Since it’s more difficult to display differences in these fields, the report simply indicates if the fields in the two versions are equal or different.

The graphic below is an example of how this might look. It indicates that the Text 1 field in Version 2 is different from the Text 1 field in Version 1.

Text comparison example

Click here to download this tool, which offers many other features to help you track changes between project versions.
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