Defining an Update Methodology (Part IV)

Continuing in an ongoing discussion on defining an update methodology….in this episode, I’d like to talk about a couple of scenarios specific to IT.  Tomorrow, I’ll talk about construction.  The general concept is to introduce two diametrically opposite update methodologies to hopefully identify patterns that may be useful to your onw specific circumstances.

IT Scenarios

Typically, I see IT update scenarios come in two, or maybe three flavors:

  1. Percent Complete
  2. Timephased Actuals (no Project Server)
  3. Timephased Actuals (with Project Server)

Regardless of the specifics, the general process invariably is as follows:

  1. Set the status date.
  2. Import/Enter/Add the Actual Work or % Complete.
  3. Reschedule incomplete work after the status date.

…although with time entered via Project Server, I might flip items #1 and #2.

So let’s take the simplest example for illustration purposes.  In this case, we have a couple of tasks that should be in progress or completed.  The status date has been set for a week after project start.


I then update several of the tasks:

  • Project Started is 100% complete.
  • Task 1 is 25% complete.
  • Task 4 is 100% complete.
  • Task 5 is 50% complete.


As we can see, since I had the Project settings configured properly, the entire schedule updates automatically.  In all, I entered exactly 4 points of data.

Let’s fast forward another week.  The status date has been pushed out another week.  Let’s say at this point that Task 1 was completed, but Task 5 made no progress as the team was pulled off the project temporarily to perform break-fix work.  Similarly, Task 2 hasn’t been started.

I update Task 1.


I then use the Update Project button on the Project ribbon to reschedule incomplete tasks.


…which yields the following result…


…and means my schedule no longer violates the two commandments of project updates, i.e. there is no incomplete work prior to the status date, and there is no completed work after the status date.

Note however that the tasks appear to have been interrupted – which in fact was the case as the teams were pulled off the tasks and put on other work.

Adding Complexity

Now, how do we add complexity to this model?  Let’s say that we want to track Actual Start as well as % Complete.  In this case, we add the Actual Start field to the project, enter that data, then pretty much continue as discussed above with % Complete.


Easy enough.  Now how about Remaining Duration?  In this case, I might implement the following process:

  1. Set the status date.
  2. Import/Enter/Add the Actual Work or % Complete.
  3. Reschedule incomplete work after the status date.
  4. Update Remaining Duration.

Dealing with Interruptions

To focus on a specific scenario, what about if the team was pulled off of a task, and you’re not sure when they will be able to return to the task?  If we follow the process above, the task will resume again right after the status date.  That may or may not be the case.  Perhaps we might assume that Task 5 will resume a week later.

In that case, we would add the Resume field to the project, and update that to control when we believe the team will return to the scheduled task.


…and that’s essentially an oversimplified view of updating projects in an IT setting.  If you actually imported timesheets from Project Server (or manually entered them in the Resource Usage View), you wouldn’t really change up the process all that much.  In that case, simply import the data, reschedule incomplete work after the status date, then review the Remaining Duration and Resume fields to ensure that the project data appears correct.

Now, of course there are nuances and complexities that will be specific to your own scenario, but hopefully that captured the essential basics of updating an IT project.

Tomorrow, let’s look at the same principles applied to construction projects.

Defining an Update Methodology (Part IV)

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