The fine folks at with the Microsoft Product Team issued a request for the community to help them out with real world reporting examples (here). Borrowing from the current Windows 7 campaign concept, this prompted me to come up with my own reporting wish list for future versions of MS Project. Note that most of this functionality is available currently through various workarounds, Excel acrobatics, third party tools, or VBA script, but I’d like to see it make its way into core functionality one day.
1) Trend Analysis – I would love to see some method of dropping snapshots of specific OOB and custom fields into a database to develop reports on trends over time. This is something I consider required on any project that I work on, where I usually just create an Excel tracking table at the beginning of the project, then do a copy/paste at each status update cycle. Right now, I am aware of at least two third party reporting tools that provide this reporting functionality: Chronicle Graphics OnePagerPro and The Project Group’s Milestone reporting tool. (I’d also love to see sparklines incorporated into MS project.)
2) More Non-Effort Based Schedule Reports – More options for reporting on non-work, non-cost schedules. Currently, we’re limited to % Complete, milestones, or custom developed reports. I’d like to see more OOB options for reporting from a schedule using only schedule based metrics and not cost or work. In MPP07, the OOB Visual Reports contain almost no options for a pure schedule-based report (dare I call it an “effortless” schedule?). Think of things like Baseline Execution Index (BEI) Reports or Cumulative Milestone Tracking Reports (screenshots from the DecisionEdge site).
3) Stochastic Reporting Tools – MPP07 kind of supported 3 Point Estimating with the PERT functionality, which I am aware may get released as a macro for 2010. I’d like to see a simple method of incorporating that concept of optimistic and pessimistic ranges into an active schedule, where the optimistic and pessimistic duration values would default to Actual Duration for completed tasks – or where the optimistic and pessimistic values are derived from some sort of risk based multiplier X remaining duration for in progress tasks. Better yet, I’d like to see a simple Monte Carlo functionality built into the tool.
4) Timephased Editing of Cost Resources – I was playing with a situation a while back where we were tracking construction costs using Cost Resources, i.e. a Cost Resource per contract. The challenge here is that 2007 reportedly has issues with editing timephased costs. I’d also like to be able to set a timephased budget by task, not just by project.
5) Buffer Management Tools– There are options within Microsoft Project to jury-rig buffer tasks, and then to report on the remaining duration, but I would like to see more formal built-in mechanisms to support the addition of buffer within the schedule. Tie that with the timephased data trend analysis and stochastic reporting tools in the above points, and I could do a nice report on buffer penetration for each status cycle.
6) Custom Timephased Fields – Imagine being able to create a formula that calculates overs or unders for specific tasks within each time period of the Usage Views – with graphical indicators.
7) Gantt Formatting Linked to Enterprise Fields – Right now, Gantt Chart formatting can only be tied to local Project fields. I can’t tell you how many clients have wanted to link directly to Enterprise fields. For now, we have to live with the workaround of modifying templates to include local fields with local formulas pointing to Enterprise fields.
8) More Cumulative Timephased Fields – currently, I believe there’s Cumulative Work, but not Cumulative Baseline Work or Cumulative Actual Work. Same with Cost. This precludes using the Resource Graph for doing effective S-Curve displays, and also means that the Visual Reports have to be modified to develop reports on Cumulative metrics. I point out that there’s a new field in the Beta version of Project 2010, Cumulative % Complete, which is a good step in the right direction.
9) More Bidirectional Visio Integration Options – right now Visio imports timelines from MPP files. There’s also a plug-in for MPP07 allowing the use of Visio to generate a WBS and export into Project. How about using Visio to generate network diagrams – either AON or AOA, and make it dynamically connected to an MPP file?