Reporting with Gantt View Task Rollups (Part 2) – Milestone Reporting

I figured I’d clean out my old queue of blog posts that I’d written but never published.  This particular post was half written when 2010 came out, and was sidelined while I soaked up all of the new product goodness.  I then borrowed parts of it for an MVP blog post and never got around to fixing it up.  Since I have a couple upcoming “Tips and Tricks” presentations coming up, I figured it was probably time to resurrect it.

Continuing on in our series on rolling up project data to a single page summary, this post talks about how to roll milestones up to a single summary view.  Note that the Rollup component of this discussion may not be as relevant to the Project 2010 users – as they have access to the Timeline view, which pretty much serves the same purpose.  That’s not to say that the instructions below will not apply to Project 2010, only that there’s an easier way to accomplish the same thing. 

For a look at how to roll up Gantt Bars, take a look at yesterday’s post.

Rolling Milestones Up

Three elements are required to manage the data rollup feature:

1) Format > Layout > Uncheck the first two options.  We’ll talk about how to use this feature in a future post.  For now, I generally recommend turning it off, as it negates the ability to toggle rollups on or off using the default Rollup field.

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2) Summary Task Level Rollup Field – Setting this to No will turn off all rollup functionality for this specific summary task.  This should be turned on for any summary task intended to be displayed as a rollup task in the Gantt Chart.

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3) Task Level Rollup Field – Setting this field to Yes will rollup the task to any summary task that also has the Rollup field set to Yes.  If the summary task has Rollup set to No,  this field will not have any impact.

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For a better description (with screen shots) of the impact of these fields, please refer back to the last post on rolling up Gantt bars.

In the following example, we have a simple project schedule.  I have a number of tasks and a number of key milestones.

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My goal is to surface the milestones all on a single line.  To do this, I expose the built-in Rollup field, and toggle the summary task and the target milestones to yes.  This selectively rolls up the project milestones.

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When collapsing the summary bar, I get a view like this.  Note that one of the major challenges with attempting this approach prior to 2010 is that the text labels often run all over each other.  Additionally, the summary bar somewhat obscures our view of the project. 

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Both issues are easy to fix.  To correct the text placement, I have two options.  I can opt to create a custom flag field, and tie it to a specific line in the Bar Styles dialog box, thus allowing me to toggle text position through the use of a custom field – or if it’s just a one-off formatting change, I can simply doubleclick on the milestone in question and modify the text placement.  Generally my preference is to use custom fields, as that allows programmatic changes of formatting in the future.  By clicking on the item and changing it, we’re creating a new, separate style just for that one item, which we may not want in the future.  Note that you can also use custom fields to toggle the milestone into a second row to avoid overcrowding the main swimlane.

In this case, however, to keep things simple, we’ll just click on the Project Started milestone, select the Bar Text tab, and move the name from the top to the bottom.

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Now to remove the Summary bar.

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Doubleclick on the Gantt Chart to get the Bar Styles dialog box.  Add the “Not Rolled Up” criteria to the Summary bar.

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And the results are as follows.

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So why use this instead of the Timeline View in 2010?  In 2010, the Timeline View doesn’t display baseline or progress.  You can’t control which text fields are connected to the milestone in the Timeline View.  With this setup, all of those custom elements may be displayed, yielding a much richer experience.

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Reporting with Gantt View Task Rollups (Part 2) – Milestone Reporting

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