Reporting project information and status has always been a feature of Project and Project Managers have used these capabilities somewhat effectively. Very early releases allowed you to print what you see on the screen as a form of project reporting. They added standard, basic textual reports later. In 2007 and in 2010 versions, project managers were able to begin leveraging the interfacing of project data to Excel and Visio through Visual Reports.
Despite all of that, there's always been a need for more reports, tools and capabilities for reporting project status to stakeholders. As good as it's been, Project Managers seemed to always need more.
With Project 2013, Microsoft has done a very good job in addressing project reporting with the Reports tab and tools. Building off of a familiar Office infrastructure that you may have seen or worked with already in Excel, you can create reports with charts and tables in Project. You use these to analyze your project and then share the results easily with others. The reports built-in and those that you can edit or create will automatically update as you project progresses. To help you get started, Microsoft has provided several within Project. The standard text-only reports known and used in Project 2007 and Project 2010 are gone and have been replaced by newer, richer, colorful reports and graphs.
The Report Tab
A new tab of buttons and options is now available with Project 2013 called Report. Notice below, that you are provided the ability to create a new report (far left), drill-down to any of the built-in reports (center) and continue to use the Visual Reports (right).
The New Report tab allows you to create new reports, charts or graphs for your project data. You can start with a blank canvas and add the objects you choose and position them as you need. You could also get some assistance by starting with a chart or table-based report. The Comparison choice will start you with two side-by-side charts where you can then add fields to both to compare.
The Dashboards tab begins to provide you with the newer, updated versions of some of the reports that have existed for some time in Project; the Cost and Project Overview. Each of these is a built-in report from Microsoft. Notice also, beyond the list of five from Microsoft, you have the ability to call-up any custom reports that you have created or stored away via the 'More Reports…' option.
One new dashboard option, Burndown, comes from the Agile project management methodology. This very powerful, easy-to-interpret, but simple report shows the remaining work at any point in time against what should remain. This is a very popular view into the project's progress or lack of. Even if your project is not Agile or SCRUM-based, you can still benefit from this report to visually understand if you're ahead or behind of schedule.
As you would suspect, this collection of reports allow you to monitor and report information regarding the resource(s) assigned to your project.
Conveniently see the resources that are currently over allocated (assigned more work than they have in available time) and a high-level overview of the resources. The scope of resources used in this reporting can be altered to focus on all or only a few. Just because the reports are built-in does not mean they can't be altered to better suit your needs.
For some, but not all projects, costs are important to track. Some project managers are not asked to track the costs but instead keep an eye only on the project schedule. But if you have to monitor costs, understand that there are several very good reports to display cost information of your project.
Use the In Progress group of reports to view and report
various aspects of your project as of the then-current time. Which tasks are part of the critical
path? What tasks are running late or
slipping when compared to their planned finish dates? If you have to report on the high-level
milestones of your project to management, use the Milestone Report.
Use the reports under Getting Started when you are new to project management and need some guidance or are simply in need of some quick help with the new reporting tools in Project 2013. These reports make use of a wizard-like presentation style to walk you through the various process steps.