MS Project Reports : How to create amazing reports in 3 steps

The Microsoft Project 2013 has some fantastic options for generating reports. There are a lot of default or template reports which you can generate at click. I will let you explore those on your own in this tutorial we will talk only about customization of reports.

MS Project Reports
MS Project Reports Sample Report
MS Project Reports can seem to be complex when you look at it for the first time but once you are understand the concepts and get your basics right you will be able to use the reports a lot easily. To make the tutorial more effective it is divided into 3 steps. 

Step 1 - Creating the custom reports, will discuss how you can create reports and the basics about reporting. Step 2 - Configuration of the reports and Step 3 - Finally generation of the reports.

Step 1 : Creating a Custom Report with MS Project Reports

create a ms project report
Create a Report
Clicking on the New Report option will give you a few choices. I prefer the option with the Chart as we do not plan to use any table today. You should see the view as per the image above. Notice the columns to the right. Please save the report as Sample.

MS Project Reports
The fields option in Microsoft Project Reports is the most important setting as the setting in this column will drive your reports. You basically have two views - Tasks and Resources.

It is very similar to pivot tables used in excel. Clicking on tasks will show you the attributes associated (task name, duration, work etc) with tasks and clicking on resources will show attributes (resource name, work, and remaining availability) related to a resource. There is a bit of overlap in the fields but you will not be able to get a full overlap.

You can select a category of data you want to display. There are a few categories in both the views.  One of the key category is time. The time option allows to report based on a time. So, you can display the effort spend over days, weeks, months, years etc in your report.

Step 2 : Configuring the reports with Microsoft Project 

MS Project Reports
After you have got the basic template ready you can then add different graphs or tables to the report depending on your need. In this section we will look at adding a new chart, using the time option and formatting the graphs. You can add a graph by using Chart option from the design tab. If you don’t see the design tab then click on of the already build chart as the design tab is context sensitive.

Microsoft Project 2013 gives you a vast range of graph templates which you can choose from - column, pie, line, bar, area, surface, radar and combo.  It is pretty much everything that excel provides. I mostly use column or pie as it is easy for people to understand. 

As mentioned earlier the time option lets you select the duration of the time to be reported. The units is whether you want to see weeks, months of years etc. The date format you like to see..

MS Project Reports
Count defines the count for each unit. If the units is weeks and count is 2 then the report will populate data at the interval of two weeks. Start and Finish are the start and end dates. You don't have to be exact when selecting dates. You can enter rough dates and MS Project 2013 will pick the nearest dates.

Microsoft Project 2013 also provides a wide range of formatting capabilities in the design tab. The options allow to change the basic format like color, font, legends etc.  You can also change the chart type whenever you wish to see different views. You can change the chart background color. There are some default formats and report templates which are pretty savvy and can be used without any tutorials.  You can also add new chart elements like legends, titles and you can also apply filters to the data used . The options can be found in the design tab or are displayed when you hover your mouse over the chart.

Step  3 : Creating the reports.

MS Project Reports
When running a project I like to know how much work is the project delivering, how much is each team member delivering, how much work are we doing in each phase and finally is there any excess capacity.  And the good news is that Microsoft Project 2013 allows you  to generate a all the reports in a click. We will now see how we can generate Team Workload Report, Work on Month by Month basisTask Effort and Excess capacity

MS Project ReportsWe will create all of them on the sample report by adding 4 distinct graphs by the method described in step 2. You can generate the Team work load report by selecting the task view, category as "Name" and in the select fields column select work field from the work option. You can generate the team Work on Month-by-Month report basis by selecting the resource view, category as time (monthly interval) and work field from the work options.

MS Project Reports
You can generate the Task Effort  or Effort on Project Phases by selecting the tasks view, category as name and work field from the work options. You can generate the Excess Capacity Report by selecting the resources view and then selecting the time category. I prefer selecting weeks and have the total duration of roughly one month as I prefer to see the free capacity for next month.   Select the Remaining Availability from work option.

Finally, after creating all the above graphs by following the tutorial you can save the Sample. The advantage is that the next time you need these MS Project Reports you will have to go to Reports --> Custom Reports and select the one that you created and it will rendered instantly.

You can also use the copy report option in the design tab to copy the output to clipboard and then to any other document or email you want.  This option is handy when you want to paste from Microsoft Project to another application.

If you like this tutorial then please share it with your friends and your colleagues.

MS Project Reports
Sample planning report in MS Project 2013