Project Management

Add a custom report in Microsoft Project 2007

In this Microsoft Project 2007 tutorial, Andrew Makar shows how to generate a custom report that identifies late tasks and the resource that caused the task to fall behind.

Microsoft Project's scheduling engine is full of data ranging from activity field definitions to earned value management calculations. You can access a lot of the information using Microsoft Project's tables and views; however, printing this information can be tedious as you try to fit all the columns on one screen. A better option is to use Microsoft Project's reporting features.

Microsoft Project comes with a lot of reports categorized by activities, costs, assignments, and workload. I've used the delivered reports for summary level information, but I find it more useful to create my own set of custom reports to answer specific key questions. Here's how to generate a custom report based on an existing filter.

This tutorial features the Behind Schedule filter that we created in a previous column to develop a Behind Schedule Report. In this report, I want to identify the late tasks and identify the responsible resource. Instead of creating a separate view, I want the report to list the Task ID, Task Name, Start, Finish, Baseline Start, Baseline Finish, and Resource Name columns. Once I print the report, I'll distribute it to my teams and include it in my status report packet.

Create a custom report based on an existing filter

First, you need to create the Behind Schedule filter in Microsoft Project 2007. When the Behind Schedule filter is complete, open the Report dialog box.

1. Go to Report | Reports from the main menu (Figure A). Figure A

2. Click the Custom icon.

3. Scroll down and click the Task report (Figure B). Figure B

4. In the Task Report dialog box, click Copy and rename the Name field to Behind Schedule Report (Figure C). (Keep the Table: Entry since you copied it from the original Tasks report.)

5. Change the Filter to the Behind Schedule filter and click OK (Figure C). If you don't see the Behind Schedule filter in the drop-down list, go back and create it.

Figure C

You can choose any table or filter to meet your criteria. I recommend finding a report that contains the base data elements, following the same copy report process, and applying the appropriate filters.

Remember that the Baseline Schedule filter requires a project baseline to be set in order for the filter to compare the status date to the original baseline.

Run the report

To run the report, go to Report | Custom, select the Behind Schedule Report, and click the Preview button. The report will prompt you for a status date. Enter the status date, and the late tasks will display in a report format (Figure D). Figure D

Click the image to enlarge.

If you want more columns in the report, you need to add the specific columns into the Entry table. In the report example, I added the ID, Task Name, Start, Finish, Baseline Start, Baseline Finish, and Resource Names columns. I hid the % Complete and Duration columns because the information is supplemental.

Conclusion

In my recent TechRepublic tutorials, I demonstrated how you can customize Microsoft Project to identify late tasks using filters, graphical indicators, and reports. The key takeaway from these articles is to use Microsoft Project's default tables, view, and filters to answer commonly asked questions when managing a project schedule. By adding a few custom reports, filters, and indicators, it can help you interpret the schedule data in your project schedule.

When sharing information with the immediate team or project stakeholders, I find that using the custom reports approach is better than trying to print specific views from Microsoft Project. By developing different views and reports, you can quickly identify late tasks, unstarted tasks, or tasks assigned to specific resources. If you have a PDF driver like pdf995 installed, you can also print the report as a PDF and distribute it.

TechRepublic's IT Project Management newsletter, delivered on Wednesday, offers tips to help keep project managers and their teams on track. Automatically sign up today!

About

Dr. Andrew Makar is an IT program manager and is the author of How To Use Microsoft Project and Project Management Interview Questions Made Easy. For more project management advice visit http://www.tacticalprojectmanagement.com.

Editor's Picks