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.
This is Part Three in an ongoing series on rolling up the schedule to generate a single, 1 page report. In this post, we’ll talk about roll up options with the Group By Summary feature.
The Group functionality is a powerful reporting tool which can be used when I desire to report on elements of my schedule that may not map precisely to elements in my WBS. As an example, let’s say that I have developed my schedule based on a product-oriented WBS, but I wish to report on the progress of each phase. I would then create a custom flag field to identify which phase specific tasks are in, and then Group By that field to develop an overall phase view. Likewise, if I developed my original WBS as a phase-oriented approach (which I almost never would recommend), and want to map the schedule elements to specific products, I would employ a custom text field and the Group functionality.
Note that from my perspective, the schedule should always be structured to support your primary reporting needs – and coded to support any secondary reporting needs.
The Group By Summary feature is significantly more limited in functionality than the simple Roll Up field. By default, only the Task bars can be summarized using the Group By Summary field. If I want to roll up other key schedule components, like say Critical Path or baseline data, the Group By Summary will not roll up that data.
Luckily, there’s an obscure (but easy) workaround to that issue. In the last several posts, I talked about how I never really like to check the options in the Layout screen to force a roll up of all tasks. My preference is to selectively roll up items using the built in Roll Up field. In this particular case, when I am rolling up data using the Grouping functionality – and I want to roll up baseline and Critical Path information, I would recommend turning those options on.
Here’s what the Format > Layout options look like by default:
And here’s what they should look like when rolling up schedule data to the Summary bars using the Group functionality.
So let’s see how those options affect the following schedule.
You’ll see that I have assigned the tasks to two resources, Lkhagva and Dorj – both names that fall under the category of having been summarily rejected by my wife the last time we were in the market for baby names. (Apparently the fact that they’re gender neutral was not a selling point).
Let’s take a look at how the rollup appears with those options off.
And now with those options on:
You’ll see in the above example that I have rolled up the Critical Path and the baseline data. Typically, my clients may also ask for a rollup of the progress line as well. You’ll note that in the second example, it’s relatively easy to eyeball the schedule to identify the critical path – and to identify which resources are on the critical path at any specific time.
The unfortunate byproduct of toggling on this feature is that now, everything is rolled up to the top level. This may be ok for some users, but I usually feel the view is too cluttered, and wish to reduce the amount of clutter. We can’t use the Roll Up field to remove items from the summary bars, as we have just overridden the use of that field. You’ll see that if you toggle that field to No, the item does not get removed from the Rolled Up view.
In this case, I have found it helpful to create a new custom flag field to serve the same function – basically a Roll Up field for Grouped projects. So I add a custom flag field to the project. For this purpose, I will be using the Flag1 field.
Once adding that to my view, I go through the Bar Styles to add the Flag1 field as criteria for displaying.
Which now enables me to toggle the elements for display using the Flag1 field. In the following example, I have toggled off everything but the Critical Path activities.