The Magic of Reports in Microsoft Project

Jan 11, 2024 | Project Hints and Tips

When you are using Project much of the setup is very detailed in order to create a Gantt chart where progress of individual tasks can be monitored and the people responsible for these tasks recorded.  However, not all of the reporting needs to be this in depth particularly when reporting to managers and stakeholders.

Since the 2013 version of Project Professional there has been a Report tab available with a range of preset reports containing a mixture of text boxes, pictures, tables and charts.  If these don’t show the required information they can be modified or new reports can be created from scratch.

Standard Reports

The standard reports are divided into 4 sections each containing the following reports.

Dashboards

There are 5 Dashboard reports.  These are used to create eye-catching reports to help you make better decisions based on your project data.

  • Burndown
  • Cost Overview
  • Project Overview
  • Upcoming Tasks
  • Work overview

Resources

There are 2 Resources reports.  These are used to help you manage your teams work by analysing the resource data.

  • Overallocated Resources
  • Resource Overview

Costs

There are 5 Cost reports.  These are used to keep control of your costs by creating reports around your cost data.

  • Cash Flow
  • Cost Overruns
  • Earned value
  • Resource Cost overview
  • Task cost overview

In progress

There are 4 In Progress reports.  These are used to analyse how your project is doing so far.

  • Critical Tasks
  • Late tasks
  • Milestones
  • Slipping Tasks

To View a Standard Report

The standard reports are a great place to start when working with reports.  The combination of visualisations chosen work really well to summarise the selected information but can be modified if required.  This is easier than knowing which fields are likely to be helpful and the visualisation that best portrays this.

  1. Go to the Report tab and choose the required report from either the Dashboard, Resources, Costs or In Progress icons.
  2. The report will be shown based on the current data in the project.  Below is an example of the Work Overview Report.  As the project plan is modified the reports will automatically update too.
Work Overview Report image

Amending a Standard Report

Each of the objects on the report can be edited easily if the data shown isn’t what is required.

  1. Text boxes can easily be edited by clicking on the box and changing the text.
  2. Charts and tables are more fiddly (note that tables can sometimes look similar to text boxes).
  3. Click on the chart or table.
  4. A Field List pane will appear on the right.
Field list image

5. Check or uncheck the relevant fields to determine what the visualisation shows.

6. Any of the standard filters can be added by selecting the appropriate option from the Filter drop down.

7. The visualisation can also be grouped or sorted.

8. The level of detail is chosen from the Outline Level.  Project Summary is the highest level.  The other levels show more detail as the number increases.  All Subtasks guarantees all task are shown.

9. In addition, for charts and tables, extra tabs will appear at the end of the ribbon to enable the appearance of them to be altered such as colours, width of column in tables, whether headings are shown on charts etc. The options on these tabs are very similar to those seen when working in Word, Excel or PowerPoint. 

Further Reading

If you’ve enjoyed reading about the magic of Reports in Microsoft Project, there are some other blogs below that you might find useful:

Want to learn more about Microsoft Project? Then email lara@laramellortraining.co.uk to discuss how I can help or have a look at the Microsoft Project courses I run.