When I first started using Primavera P6, I used to print the S Curve/Histogram directly from P6, which is excellent for reporting resource profiles and working on schedule levelling and resource moments.

But then I realised P6 has the limitation of changing the report format or calculation to show the progress directly in P6.

So, imagine if you can’t provide the progress report when you are to present the information to the client and stakeholders on time. Unless you have other means of reporting progress, the project management team has no idea where the project is heading if you haven’t got the progress S Curve report. I did have the same issues when I first started.

So, if you are learning project scheduling with Primavera P6, try the following tips to develop the progress S Curve, which will help you gain confidence when you prepare the progress report.

You may be thinking, which option should I use?

Option 1 is excellent for developing progress S Curve based on the planned and earned value data because you can export them via the report wizard.

The good thing about option 2 is that you can copy resource data directly from the resource assignment tag. So, I prefer option 2 because I can see all the changes as I organise the data in P6. But the downside is that you can’t export planned and earned value data. So, it depends on what you try to achieve and what you like.

So, let’s start with option 2 first.

STEP 1 – Organize Resource Data to Export

In this step, you organise the data field (columns) in P6 to ensure you export the correct data for the progress report. To get started,

1# Open the Resource Assignment View


    • First, open the project for which you intend to prepare a progress report.
    • Click “Resource Assignments” from the top menu or tools bar on the left of the screen.

2# Decide and Select Resource Assignment Columns (Data)

When you organise the resource data for the progress report, decide which P6 data you will use.

Most beginner planners will choose the Budgeted Units and Actual Units (from the current schedule) because it is the most natural way to do that.

But that’s only correct for actual progress calculation.

The Budgeted Data /Actual Data = Actual Progress [the data can be either cost or units – hours]

You understand the current schedule should include “Current Approved Budget” (if you update the latest approved changes hours in P6), and you can treat “Actual” as earned because the actual hour is based on the progress (not the actual hour spent).

But that’s only correct for actual progress calculation:

The Budgeted Data /Actual Data = Actual Progress [the data can be either cost or units – hours]

How’s the plan (progress), then? When I first worked on the progress (from P6), I didn’t use the correct data for this and was confused with all sorts of P6 data. So, keep the following tips to start the process.

    • To report “Baseline Progress”, use baseline data to calculate the progress. For instance, export the budget data from the baseline schedule to get the baseline plan progress because you can’t get it from the Resource Assignment view in your current (forecast) plan.
    • For “Plan Progress (based on the current approved budget), get the budgeted units from the current schedule because it should include current approved (budgeted) units.
    • Use actual units (from the current schedule) and budgeted units (from the current plan) to report actual progress.
    • Use the At Completion Units column to prepare the Forecast Progress because this includes the actual plus the remaining hours.

The picture below should remind you what P6 data you could use to prepare the progress S Curve.

For now, let’s use the budgeted and actual Units data from the current schedule here.

1〉Prepare resource assignment table columns first. To do that, go to View on the menu bar >> Columns >> Customize, or click “Columns” from the tools bar, then click “Customize”.

2Select Actual Units and Budgeted Units from the Units group in the available options box. Click the forward arrow to show the actual and budgeted units in the “Selected Options”.

3After you have selected the Actual and Budgeted Units, hide the Start and Finish column by clicking the back arrow if you don’t want to see it.

3# Prepare the Resource Spreadsheet Field Columns

Why do you need to show the spreadsheet columns? Well, the spreadsheet data will give you the hours that are spread across the duration of the activity.

Use the budgeted data for the periodic progress calculation (e.g., weekly, monthly, etc.), and the cum (cumulative) unit is for the total progress.

To get the resource spreadsheet columns of your choice – (“Budgeted Units” and the “Cum Budgeted Units”), click “Display” and select “Spreadsheet Fields”. Then go to “Customize”.

    • Select the “Cum Budgeted Units” and “Budgeted Units” columns to the “Selected Options”.
    • If you also want to get the progress data based on early and late curves, select the Cum Remaining Early Units and Cum Remaining Late Units if you wish to view Early Curve and Late Curve.

    • Once you have selected the data field (budgeted units, cum budgeted units, etc.) for the spreadsheet field, set the timescale you chose – this will allow you to export P6 data depending on the reporting cycle – weekly, monthly etc.

4# Set the Timescale format

Set the time interval to “Month/Week” to export weekly data or “Quarter/Month” for monthly reporting. To change the interval,

    • Click the display button on the spreadsheet field area. Go to Timescale, and you will see the Timescale.
    • Set to Calendar in the date format type box and enter “Month/Week” or “Quarter/Month” in the date interval box.

5# Organise the view (Ready to export)
    1. Go to View, Group and Sort by or click ‘Organise’ icon on the toolbar.
    2. Select the project – this will allow you to report overall progress. [You can choose “Resources” instead of the project if you want to organise it that way, but it won’t be any different as you are working on the overall progress]
    3. Select ‘Show Summary Only” in the group and sort the window. Then make sure you save the resource assignment layout to avoid the rework.

STEP 2 – Export P6’s Spreadsheet Data to Excel

After selecting the resource field (for the resource assignment table and spreadsheet field) and setting the timescale, you can export P6 resource data to EXCEL. To begin the process,

      1. Select the top row of the resource assignment table and right-click.
      2. And then copy and paste the data into Excel.

Then, you will get the resource data exported until project completion.

STEP 3 – Calculate Progress Data

You are ready to prepare progress data once you export the resource assignment data to Excel.

    • First, calculate the cumulative plan progress: Cumulative progress to cut-off date = Cum resource units to cut-off date /Total resource units.

      For example, Cum Planned Progress for Oct = Cum Budgeted Units for Oct (2796) / Total Budgeted Units (79385) = 3.5%

  • Calculate the actual cumulative progress. So, use the total actual units from the activity assignment column, but you need to record the total actual units (achieved) for each reporting period.

    Let’s say you have recorded the total actual units from Oct (2855) to Apr (8854) the following year as below.

    To get the Cum Actual Progress for Oct = Cum Actual Units for Oct (2855) /Total Budgeted Units (79385) = 3.6%

  • Calculate the period progress for both plan and the actual.
    Planned Progress for Oct = Cum Planned Progress for Oct (3.5%) – Cum Planned Progress for Sep (1.6%) = 1.9%

Actual Progress for Oct = Cum Actual Progress for Oct (3.6%) – Cum Actual Progress for Sep (1.6%) = 2%

STEP 4 – Develop S Curve and Histogram Chart in Excel

Once you have done the progress calculation, you’re ready to plot the S Curve.

1# – Plot Histogram Bar Chart and S Curve Line Chart
    • The convenient way to plot the chart is to select the entire graph (progress) data until project completion and clean up the unwanted rows later.

    • Next, click “Insert” on the Excel menu bar to select the combo chart. Then select “Clustered Column – Line on Secondary Axis.

    • Next, you should get a chart like the chart below. Then, click the chart and right-click to see “Select Data” to change the chart’s appearance.

    • Next, remove the unwanted data – Budgeted Units, Cum Budgeted Units, Blank Series, etc. from legend entries (series).
    • After removing the data series you don’t need, leave them with the progress data series: Cum Planned Progress, Monthly Planned Progress, Cum Actual Progress, and Monthly Actual Progress.

      Next, click “Ok” to close the Select Data Source box.

    • Now, you got the data that you need. But you won’t be able to plot a proper chart until you change the chart type of each progress data where they should be.
    • Click anywhere on the chart and then right-click to see “Change Chart Type”.

    • Next, change the chart type for “Cum Planned Progress” and “Cum Actual Progress” to “Line” or “Line with Markers”.

      Tick the “Secondary Axis” checkbox to display the cumulative data on S Curve.
    • Then, select “Clustered Column” for periodic data – Monthly Planned Progress and Monthly Actual Progress.

      Finally, deselect the “Secondary Axis” checkbox to show the monthly data on the histogram chart.

Once you have changed the charge type and configured the secondary axis for S Curve and the primary axis for the histogram, you should be able to view the progress report that shows both charts.

The next step is formatting the chart: If you got it covered for this, skip the step and move on to the next one.

2# – Format the Chart of S Curve/Histogram Report

Name the chart title “Monthly Progress Report” or the name of your choice.

Change the scale of the secondary axis to 100 %. To do that

    1. Double-click “Secondary Axis” or cumulative percentage on the chart to pop up the “Format Axis” box on the right side of the Excel window.
    2. Select the “Histogram” icon from the Axis Options tag.
    3. Change the maximum value from 1.2 to 1.

Change the gap width between the histogram charts – monthly plan and actual. To do that,

1) Click on the histogram bar to see the histogram icon on the “Format Data Series.”
2) Change the gap width as you wish. I prefer to change it to 10-15% because it looks better.

And you could change the appearance of the histogram bar colour or S Curve line chart.

    1. Select the bar chart or line that you wish to change colour.
    2. Then, go to the menu bar, >> “Format”, and choose the fill and outline colour or
    3. Select fill and outline colour from the Format Data Series window on the right.

There you go! Once you have changed the format of the S Curve and histogram bar chart, you will have a beautiful report that works for your project team.

To recap, the key steps to generate S Curve/Histogram from Primavera P6, using option 2 are,

    1. Organise Resource Data to Export
    2. Export the P6’s Spreadsheet Data to Excel
    3. Calculate Progress Data
    4. Develop S Curve and Histogram Chart in Excel

This article should help you clear up your doubts about what P6 data you can use for progress and the steps to create a progress S Curve.

Do you want to become a master at P6 export & resource graphs and gain more confidence? Then, go to Develop Resource and Progress Curve with P6 report wizard to practise more.

Download Excel template file for Progress S curve.

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