A method to your tracking madness

Microsoft has identified four tracking methods:

I Task-total method I Task-timephased method I Assignment-total method I Assignment-timephased method

You can begin to understand these by looking at the difference between task and assignment tracking. You can track information at the task level, indicating total work or costs for the task up to the present or as of a status date you select. Or you can track costs by resource assignment, which is the more detailed way of tracking.

For example, suppose that the Test Electrical Components task is estimated to take 12 hours of work, according to your project baseline. Three human resources — Engineer, Electrician, and Assistant — are assigned at 100 percent of their time. Tracking by task, you can simply note that the task is 75 percent complete, which translates into nine hours of work finished.

Project assumes that the three resources split that work up equally. In reality, however, the Engineer put in one hour, the Electrician put in six, and the Assistant put in two. If you want more detailed tracking that shows you totals of work for each resource assignment and accurately tracks them, you would track the work at the resource-assignment level.

But here's where the timephased variable comes in: Whether you choose to track work on a task or the work done by individual resources on the task, you can also track by specific time increments — which Microsoft calls timephased tracking.

So, with the Test Electrical Components task, you can use a task approach of tracking nine hours of work to date or use a timephased approach to record those hours on a day-by-day basis. With a resource assignment approach, you can go to the very deepest level of tracking detail by tracking each and every resource's work hour by hour, day by day.

Let your project make the rounds

You can use the Send To feature on the File menu of Project to send your project to others and have them update their own activity. You can do this by either e-mailing a file or selected tasks as a file attachment, or you can route one file and have people make their changes in one place.

The challenge with the first method is that you need to manually incorporate the changes in the various files into a single file.

The challenge with the second approach is getting people to do the updating accurately and forward the file to the next person on the routing slip in a timely fashion. Generally, the best use of e-mail for updating projects is simply to have team members send an e-mail with their activity to the person updating the project and then let that person make all the changes in one central location.

Finally, if you want Project to keep an eye on costs, be sure to track fixed costs and material used on each task.

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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