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Finding the Right Information in Microsoft Project

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The “trick” to using Microsoft Project effectively is first to know what type of information you are looking for and then to know which view you can use to display this information. A view is a set of formatting instructions that tells Microsoft Project what data to present and how to organize it into useful information so that each view displays a unique combination of project information. Once you are in the correct view, you can modify the display to view the exact information you require, as described later.

Views in Microsoft Project 2016 can be categorized into sheet views, chart and graph views, and form views. Each of the available views will provide different presentations of project information.

Unfortunately, with 27 different views to choose from, simply deciding which one to use can be a challenge.  For example, the default Gantt Chart view includes a calendar bar chart on the right side of the screen and a table of data on the left side. A table is a set of formatting instructions that specifies which fields from the data storage area should appear on the screen. The default Entry table, for example, contains ID (the task numbers), Name (titled Task Name), Duration, Start, Finish, Predecessors, and Resource Names (who is assigned to the task).

The decision tree below is intended to help guide you to the six most useful views in Microsoft Project. Microsoft Project 2016 does help by automatically opening certain views for you (for example, custom tracking views when you set up the tracking method to be used for the project), but remembering these six views will save you valuable time.

For Task information, the Gantt Chart (with and without a split window) is generally most useful; for Resource information, the Resource Sheet (with and without a split window) is best; and for Assignment information, the Task Usage and Resource Usage views are the best starting points.

Viewing the Right Information in Microsoft Project

 

When selecting the best Microsoft Project view, you must first decide if you are looking for task-based or resource-based information.

  • If you require task-based information, next decide if you are interested in information with or without resource assignments.
    • If the information you require is task-based, without resource assignments, the Gantt Chart should meet your needs (see Note 1 for additional detail).
    • If the information you require is task-based, with resource assignments spread over time, the Task Usage View should meet your needs (see Note 2 for additional detail).
    • If the information you require is task-based, with resource assignments not spread over time, the Gantt Chart with details in the lower pane (split window) should meet your needs (see Note 3 for additional detail).
  •  If you require resource-based information, next decide if you are interested in information with or without task assignments.
    • If the information you require is resource-based, without task assignments, the Resource Sheet should meet your needs (see Note 1 for additional detail).
    •  If the information you require is resource-based, with task assignments spread over time, the Resource Usage View should meet your needs (see Note 2 for additional detail).
    •  If the information you require is resource-based, with task assignments not spread over time, the Resource Sheet with details in the lower pane (split window) should meet your needs (see Note 3 for additional detail).

Note 1: Are you seeing the information you want to see in the Gantt Chart or Resource Sheet views?

  •  If you are not seeing the information you want on the left side of the divider of the Gantt Chart View:
    •  Apply a table that contains the columns (or fields) you wish to view
    •  Add columns to the existing table
    •  Add columns to the existing table and then apply the table
    •  Create a new table that contains the columns (or fields) you wish to view

Note 2: Are you seeing the information you want to see in the (Task or Resource) Usage view?

If you are not seeing the columns you want on the left side of the divider on the (Task or Resource) Usage View, you can do one or more of the following:

  • Apply a table that contains the columns (or fields) you wish to view
  • Add columns to the existing table
  • Add columns to the existing table and then apply the table
  • Create a new table that contains the columns (or fields) you wish to view

The grid on the right side of the (Task or Resource) Usage view contains time-phased information – work details broken down on a day-by-day basis (this time phasing can be modified). If you are not seeing the columns you want to see on the right side of the divider on the Usage View:

  •  To change the timescale, in the View:Zoom section of the ribbon, use the Zoom dropdown arrow to Zoom in/Zoom out.
  • To see a short list of display options for this grid, right-click anywhere in the grid area. When you do so, you will see the following list:

Time Phased Details List

If the data in the timescale (for the task, resource or assignment you wish to view) is not appearing on the screen:

  • From Task:Editing click the Scroll to Task icon
  • Zoom in/Zoom Out
  • In the Format:Zoom section of the ribbon, adjust the timescale

In the lower pane, if you are not seeing the fields you want to see:

  •  Right mouse click in the lower pane and select Predecessors & Successors, Resources & Predecessors, Resources & Successors, Schedule, Work, Cost, Notes, and/or Objects as appropriate
  • From View: (Task or Resource) Views, use the Other Views dropdown list to select More Views and then choose the appropriate “form” view.
  •  From View:Split View use the Details dropdown list to select the appropriate view.

Note 3: Are you seeing the information you want to see in the Gantt Chart with Details or Resource Sheet with Details views?

  • If you are not seeing the columns you want on the upper pane of the Gantt Chart View:
    • Apply a table that contains the columns (or fields) you wish to view
    • Add columns to the existing table
    • Add columns to the existing table and then apply the table
    •  Create a new table that contains the columns (or fields) you wish to view
  • If you are not seeing the fields you want to see on the lower pane:
    •  Right mouse click in the lower pane and select Schedule, Work, Cost, Notes, and/or Objects as appropriate
    • From View: (Task or Resource) Views, use the Other Views dropdown list to select More Views and then choose the appropriate “form” view.
    •  From View:Split View use the Details dropdown list to select the appropriate view.
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