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We use MS Project to manage a project. Although I know that MS Project is just a scheduling tool, we use it to get the current state of the project. We update the % complete field at the end of every day for tasks and send the total project % complete to stakeholders.

This is a software project and things were working fine until change requests started pouring in. Some of tasks were put on hold, some more tasks were added and some in-progress tasks were dropped. Now, MS Project does not give the right picture of the project.

Any suggestion how can I organize my tasks so that it can reflect the right figure (% complete).

  • Can you describe how your project is agile? Do you do fixed duration iterations? Knowing what is "fixed" in your schedule is very important if you want to use MS Project for this. – Al Biglan Jul 12 '11 at 1:41
  • Just to update... we are now using JIRA Agile (or JIRA Software as they are rebranding). Although it's not best, it's working for us. – matrix Oct 19 '15 at 10:52
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I don't think MS Project is the best tool to show such thing. You haven't pointed using it as a requirement so my advice would be to use something different, possibly something simpler.

The first thing which comes to my mind is Cumulative Flow Diagram (CFD). First, it naturally shows how much work has been completed (done state), so if you need % complete in any given point of time you can compare work completed to all work at that time. Second, you get a nice tool which shows how scope has grown over time and how it affected % complete.

To show % complete more precisely use sizing of tasks, e.g. T-shirt sizing, story points etc., in CFD so you know that completing a huge task brings you further to the end of the project than completing a tiny one. In the simplest form you can just count the number of tasks completed but you won't get such precision.

To prepare CFD simple spreadsheet should be enough.

Also check this presentation on CFD.

  • Seems something new to me. Let me go through it. – matrix Jul 12 '11 at 0:44
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I don't think MS Project is the right tool for what you want to accomplish, try Team Task Manager would work better for you. We use it daily to track projects and tasks, very intuitive and no learning curve - and it gives a simple % complete indicator. Inexpensive, and a free trial is available on their website - http://www.deskshare.com/team-task-management.aspx

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    I cannot use any other tool as our company only uses MS Project. Going for a new tool means lots of approvals etc. anyways, Thanks for the reply. – matrix Jul 13 '11 at 3:38
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I agree with the others in that MS Project is not best for agile project management. You should use a tool like Pivotal Tracker, which is built online strictly for agile project development. Many startups and tech companies use them, and they were built by the agile development team, Pivotal Labs, to handle such projects so they know best.

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There are so many issues with this question I am not sure where to begin.

First i will try to answer your question about MS Project.

Project is a great tool but it was not designed for daily reporting, it is a long term planning tool.

Day to day reporting in an Agile project is accomplished with the Burndown Chart and Task Wall. At best project can be used to report weekly but that is generally not worth the effort.

If you still feel that Project is the only way to go depending on your Development environment there are tools that will create or update a project file with current status.

If this is an agile project, it has a short (2-4 week) duration. At the beginning of the iteration the Team "accepts" a number of stories and commits to complete them within the designated iteration.

If you are having new stories (or tasks not related to committed stories) coming into an iteration you have a much bigger issue that MS Project not working. If this is the case the team needs to determine to "blow" the sprint up and start over with the reprioritized backlog or get agreement from product owner and stakeholders that to accept this new work in something will have to move out, and it is very seldom an even trade.

As an example, if the PO wants to bring a 3 point story in, there will be a cost. Due to the overhead and disruption this causes during an integration it will probably cost 5 points to get the three point story in the current sprint.

I wish you luck

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If you have to use MS Project (we have to), then I believe it is possible.

What aspect of MS Project is not working anymore? I could probably help more if I knew that.

I believe you can do an Agile project in MS Project, because once an iteration is started, the stories or tasks should be fixed (or at least that's what Scrum says). You could track either at the story or task level. It really depends on which Agile methodology you're following - stories are an XP terminology. But since teams are supposed to be self-directed, MS Project does make that awkward - even with MS Project Server - so the project file would serve more of a reflection of an in-person process rather than the tool to accomplish the job itself.

  • @Shanmon, Well, there are many issues. For example, if a task is put on hold - first, there is no way to show the status as hold; second, the resources from that task should be freed and their schedule should be auto updated for coming tasks. – matrix Jul 14 '11 at 3:24
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I think it depends upon the project. MS Project is best for planning and scheduling, so the project will need to have a little size to be justified. And if the project is fairly large, you will probably be best with some other tools to help the developers manage the sprints and iterations, which include a lot of meetings as well as development of epics and stories.

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    Hi John, welcome to Project Management Stack Exchange, the Q&A site for questions about problems in the field of project management. For a small project, do you see ways the op (original poster) could organize the tasks so they reflect percent complete? If so, an edit to your post may further help guide future visitors to this site. Hope this helps, and welcome. – jmort253 Apr 29 '16 at 7:50
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Take a look at this about Scrum add-on in Project 2010.

http://www.gantthead.com/blog/Agility-and-Project-Leadership/3388/

ciao

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    Hi Daniele, it's customary on StackExchange sites to provide an explanation in your answer and also include a summary of the main idea of any links you provide. Our goal is to create a resource for years to come. If this link were to ever break, your answer would be useless. Consider making an edit to your answer to improve it. Thank you, and welcome to PMSE! – jmort253 Jun 17 '12 at 18:20

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