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Hour 17. Tracking Work on the Project > Tracking Actual Performance

Tracking Actual Performance

There's a wide range in the level of detail you can choose to record when tracking actual work on your project. Tracking can be simple or sophisticated, depending on your reporting needs and the time you have to do it. The time it takes to keep a project file updated can be a considerable drain on the project manager's schedule, so you must choose the level of detail based on the tradeoff between the time it takes you to keep the project updated and the value of the information that results. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind when tracking actual work:

  • At the very least, you should record when tasks actually start and finish. If tasks finish late, the rest of the project might be in jeopardy of finishing late. If tasks finish early, resources could be freed that can help out with other tasks.

  • For longer tasks that have started but not yet finished, you can record not only when the task started, but also how far along the task is—what percent of the scheduled task duration has been completed. You probably wouldn't want to take the time to do this for shorter tasks.

  • Instead of tracking the percent of the task duration completed, and letting Project calculate how much work that involves, you can record the actual work itself for the task. Or, for even greater accuracy, you can record the work completed by each resource assigned to the task.

  • By default, actual costs are always calculated by Microsoft Project, and you can't overwrite its calculations until the task is 100% complete. You have the option to supplement the cost calculations by entering actual costs for each resource assignment yourself. This option takes more time (unless you use the automated workgroup messaging described in Hour 20, "Using Microsoft Project in Workgroups"), but it can be the most accurate of all tracking methods.


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