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Microsoft Project 2007: The Missing Manual by Bonnie Biafore

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Working with Visual Reports

The questions that stakeholders ask in status meetings shift like quicksand: "When did costs start exceeding the budget?" "How are employees doing compared to contractors?" or "Whom can we assign to bail out troubled tasks?" Text-based reports have fixed formats, so you're out of luck if your report doesn't answer the question on the table. In Project 2007, visual reports use Excel pivot charts and Visio pivot diagrams so you can change them on the fly, to respond to questions, or drill down to locate problems.

The ability to slice and dice data in different ways sets these reports apart from other reports, whether you use the text-based reports in Project or generate reports from a high-powered reporting tool. For example, you may start with cost by fiscal quarter, but one quick change and the report can show cost by phase or resource. It's just as easy to change the graph from cost to work, examine a few time periods in detail while summarizing others, or look at specific tasks and resources. The box on Generating a Visual Report explains what makes visual reports tick.

Project 2007 gets you started with several built-in visual reports (Rearranging and Formatting an Excel Visual Report). Unlike text-based reports, the initial presentation is like the serving suggestions you see on cracker boxes. You can modify the report in real time until it's the way you want.

This section starts with the easy part: generating a visual report. Your options for massaging ...

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