How Late Is That Task?

PMI Delaware Valley Chapter

Paul is a Deputy Project Manager at Cognosante Consulting, LLC, and has 20 years’ experience in the U.S. Healthcare IT industry assisting clients in determining the most cost-effective solutions to achieve strategic business objectives. He specializes in IV&V/QA oversight for all MMIS functional areas and has a strong background in implementations, expansions, and conversions of MMIS systems.

Analyzing a schedule to determine which tasks are late is an important responsibility for all project managers. PMs routinely analyze the schedule to evaluate the impacts of late tasks. Scheduling data fuels the decisions made by the PM to ensure successful project outcomes.

While many Microsoft Project (MSP) fields are built in, there aren’t any fields that calculate where the task should be by now. In addition, for a resource-loaded schedule, a late task can negatively affect resource management (work). Furthermore, the built-in fields cannot answer questions like “How much work should have been done by now?” or “What is the remaining work from time now?”

This article describes a schedule monitoring technique using MSP’s custom fields to find out exactly how much time (work hours) a task is behind. I encourage for everyone to explore using MSP’s custom fields.

How Late Is Late?

 “A schedule defends from chaos and whim. A net for catching days.”
— Annie Dillard, The Writing Life (1989)

PMs routinely review schedules in MSP and make informed decisions based on the data contained therein. But imagine if the data could be tailored and more specific to the PM’s needs. Using MSP’s built-in views, fields and reports, it is relatively easy to find which tasks are late and to assess if those …

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"Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?" "That depends a good deal on where you want to get to."

- Lewis Carroll

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