When we are building projects, some of the most important data that we need to keep track of are budgeted and actual costs values. In FastTrack Schedule 10 we can input budget and automatically calculate actual cost with ease. We can even take this a step further by creating calculations to pinpoint each task that is over budget within our projects. Not only can we identify the amount a task is over budget, but we can also automatically place a label on the activity bar to make this over-budget task more noticeable in the Timeline Graph.
To display task costs, use the Cost Layout. This will display cost information for Fixed Cost, Resource Cost, and Total Cost. Fixed Cost is any cost not directly relating to our resources. Resource Cost is calculated based on the resources assigned cost rates and the number of hours they are assigned to tasks. Total Cost is the combination of Fixed Cost and Resource Cost. Notice that in the Cost Layout there is no column for Budget values. We can easily create this on our own.
First, let’s create a new layout to display our Budget and Total Cost. We will continue to add columns to this layout for items such as the cost variance.
1. Go to Layouts > Define
2. Select the Main Layout then Duplicate.
3. Enter a customized layout name, such as Variance Layout.
4. From the Available Columns list we can select to show the columns; Cost 1 and Total Cost.
5. Select OK to save the layout.
6. Select OK to close the dialog and open the newly created layout.
Next, we can customize our Cost 1 column to hold our budget values. Double-click on the Cost 1 header. Here we can enter our customized column name, Budget. Next, go to the tab labeled Summaries and select to apply the Summary Bar Value of Total. Press OK to save these changes.
Next, we can enter some budget values for each task. In our example, we can already see our Total Cost values, however, typically you wouldn’t enter this data until after the budget was created.
Now that we have values for both our Budget and Total Cost, we need to build a calculation that can find the Variance between them. This will allow us to pinpoint any activities that are over budget within our project.
1. Go to Insert > Column > Calculation 1
a. When inserting a calculation column, the Format Calculation dialog will automatically open.
2. From Columns, double-click on the column named Budget. This will add it to the formula above.
3. From Operators, double-click on the subtraction sign (-).
4. From Columns, double-click on Total Cost.
5. Our calculation should now read Budget – Total Cost.
6. Select OK to save the calculation.
When we select OK, we will see values automatically populating the column. Now we need to format the column to display the values exactly as we wish to see them. Double-click on the Calculation 1 header. Here we can enter our customized column name, Variance. Next, go to the tab labeled Display and select to show negative values in parentheses, currency symbol, and zero decimal places.
Next, we can go to the tab labeled Summaries and select to show None under the Summary Bar Value. We do this because we want to see individual task variances more so than the entire project variance. Press OK to save these changes. After making these formatting changes, we can view how our Variance column can now more effectively communicate over and under budget tasks within our project.
Now that we can see the variance between our budget and total cost, our next step is to add a helpful “Over Budget” indicator for over budget tasks within the project. We can accomplish this by adding another calculation column to the layout.
1. Go to Insert > Column > Calculation 2
2. From Functions, double-click on If(Cond, Result1, Result2).
a. This is an IF Statement, which conditionally evaluates one or the other result based on the value of the test.
3. Next, we can enter values into the IF statement. Highlight the COND, then from the columns list double-click on Variance. This will place Variance where COND originally was.
4. After Variance, place the operator < for Less than.
5. Now we can highlight Result 1 and enter the value we want to appear if Variance < 0 is true.
6. Here we will enter a text string “OVER BUDGET!”
7. Next we can highlight Result 2 and enter the value we want to appear if Variance < 0 is false.
8. Here we will enter a text string for a blank value “” (2 sets of quotation marks).
9. When our calculation is built, it should look like:
If([Variance] < 0, “OVER BUDGET!”, “”)
10. Select OK to save and run your calculation.
In our schedule, this new calculation column will display as text, all activities that are over budget within our project.
The last thing we can do is to apply this column as a label on our bars, so no matter what layout we are in, we can always see exactly which tasks are over budget by simply viewing the Timeline Graph.
1. Go to Format > Bar Styles.
2. Select the tab labeled Schedule View Labels.
3. From available columns, select Over Budget Text then select Show.
a. This will move the Over Budget Text column to our shown columns as a label on the bar.
4. Select Apply to apply the label to your schedule.
5. Select OK to save the label and close the Format Bar Styles dialog.
Now, when we look in our Timeline Graph we can easily see which activities are Over Budget, even if we switch to a layout such as the Basic Layout.
In FastTrack Schedule 10, there’s an unlimited number and type of calculations that you can build. What are some of the calculations that you’ve experimented with in your projects? Have you found calculations helpful in extracting data you don’t normally see?