Here’s a persistent problem project managers face: Their project schedules are obsolete within a week of completion. So what is your solution to that?
(scroll down for a video solution)
One solution is to get input from the boots on the ground. Get the actual employees doing the work to enter the tasks they are working on, and updating estimates. If you combine that with getting time and material “actuals” from employee timesheets, you have just about everything you need to fix this issue.
Getting input from the boots on the ground
Employees may not know the full strategic direction your project is going in, but they do know the tactical maneuvers to get things done. So let them have that input into your schedule. Let employees input their project tasks and update estimates based on their understanding of the conditions on the ground. That may be entirely different than your 30,000 foot birds-eye view.
Both perspectives help.
The video below shows how to sync project tasks with your timesheet, which lets employees on the ground have their input. Give it a watch, and let us know what you think!
Do you want the actual end-users of your MS Project plans to have input?
After all, what’s a project plan without input and adjustments from the boots on the ground? It’s static and lifeless. The project manager creates the plan, and minutes later it’s out of date. Why? Because the project manager doesn’t know the actual conditions on the ground. Only the actual employees know that. So you need their input.
This video describes getting input in the form of materials and costs that are synchronized with MS Project. Get a look below!
There are actually three types of resources in MS Project
Work resource — human resource, or equipment rented by the hour
Material resource — consumable materials used on the job
Cost resource — misc. expenses used on the job
Building a Microsoft Project with resources is much more than just human resources. It’s more than just Jim and Bob assigned to tasks. There are other types of resources that all have costs impacting the project.
The video below shows all three resource types. Scroll down and watch.
Work resources are usually human beings. They have a standard rate for each hour of work. But Work resources could also be machines that cost you a certain amount to use for each hour. A trackhoe that costs you $10,000 per hour is a work resource. You assign it to a task for a specified number of hours. When the task is finished, you own $10,000 times the number of hours. Ouch!
Material resources are normally consumables. You use up these materials on the job. The video describes buckets of nails as an example. You use a certain number of buckets for each task. When the task is done, you have cost the project the number of buckets times the cost for each bucket.
Cost resources are miscellaneous expenses your project incurs. Add these to your project so you know the total cost, including all the items used.
It turns out that all these MS Project costs come down to Standard Time during synchronization. Not only do your tasks come down, but so do all the resources and their costs. Of course you can send actual work back up to MSP from your employee timesheet, which lets you compare estimates with actuals. But this video describes resource costs.
Microsoft Project can automatically sync with Standard Time®. You set it and forget it!
Watch this video for the description of a little console app that syncs MPP files with your timesheet. You specify the input settings in a batch file or scheduler. The console app will run when instructed to do so. And when it does, it syncs the tasks and actual work with your timesheet.
The timesheet it works with is Standard Time. You’ll see the MS Project tasks down on your timesheet, and you’ll see employee hours up in the Task Usage view in MS Project. That sync will occur as many times each day as you want. Just put it on a scheduler and let it run.
Always wanted to know how to sync to Microsoft Project? This video tells how. Scroll down.
It involves the use of an add-in you install into MSP. The add-in synchronizes project tasks with Standard Time® It then synchronizes timesheet hours from ST to MSP. That makes a nice round-trip sync between MSP and ST.
What is Standard Time? It’s an employee timesheet app that includes project management, expense tracking, and PTO. Integration with Microsoft Project is not required. ST has it’s own native projects and tasks. But if you already have your own MSP files or you are connecting to Project Web Access, you can bring those project tasks into ST for display in the timesheet.
Let us know what you think of the video by commenting on YouTube.
Without ‘Actual work’ from a timesheet, MS Project is just a dead schedule. And the bigger the schedule, the worse the problem is. Here’s why:
Huge project schedules look great the day you create them. Every is as accurate as you can make it. Dates, durations, resource assignments, milestones, deliveries… they’re all exactly where you hope they will be. But all you’re doing is looking into the future with your best guess.
Problem is, by tomorrow, a portion of that future has passed.
Resources have started on their tasks. They’ve reported back to you. Some tasks are wrong. Some will take more time. Others, less time. And the bulk of them carry a large degree of uncertainty.
Only when you get some actual hours on those tasks do you really know how accurate they are, and how they affect the schedule.
That’s why timesheet hours are important.
Import your actual work from your timesheet to your schedule, and everything changes.
MS Project schedules without ‘Actual Work’ from employees are dead. They are little more than a list of tasks, and soon become out of date because employees complete some or portions of them, and the schedule doesn’t reflect that input.
You need a timesheet to supply those employee hours.
Take a look at this video. It describes the issue and suggest a possible solution.
Follow these steps to integrate Microsoft Project with Standard Time®. (scroll down for the video)
Start by choosing File, Projects.
Right-click on a project and choose Microsoft Project Integration Wizard
Navigate to your MPP file
Finish the Wizard
MS Project will open the MPP file and pull down your tasks into Standard Time®. You won’t see them in the timesheet right away. There is one step you must take first.
Click the Project Tasks tab to see the new tasks from the MPP file. At the far right, you will see a columns labeled Timesheet. Check the boxes for each task you wish to see in the timesheet. Any task without this checked will not show up in the timesheet.
Now that you have integrated the timesheet with MSP, you can send your ‘Actual’ hours back.
Choose View, Refresh Project Tasks. That will open a dialog that lets you send your timesheet hours to MSP.
Standard Time Timesheets can import Microsoft Project MPP files. Actually, ST talks directly to MSP and brings down tasks into the ST database. Technical talk… sure, but that really just means that you can see your MSP tasks in the ST timesheet. Watch the video and scroll down to read more below.
Standard Time connects directly to MS Project. That allows it to pull down tasks and resources into it’s own database. The end-result is that you can see tasks in the Standard Time employee timesheets. Each employee sees their own tasks. They enter hours into the timesheet. And those ‘actual’ hours can then be sent back to MSP.
What value is this to project managers? It means your actual hours from employee timesheets ‘activates’ your MPP file. With actual work hours, your project comes alive. Tasks may be pushed out because employees are taking longer than expected. Or, they may be pulled in so others can begin. In either case, actual hours affect your schedule in real-world ways.
MSP Task Usage
Need to see how actual work affects task usage? Watch this video below. You’ll see the actual hours from the Standard Time timesheet overlaid on your MSP tasks.