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Fine-Tuning Task Details in Microsoft Office Project 2007

Entering Fixed Costs

Projects that budget or track financial costs can deal with several different sources of costs. These include costs associated with resources, as well as costs associated directly with a specific task.

For many projects, financial costs are derived mainly from costs associated with work resources, such as people and equipment, or with material resources. To handle costs of similar types for which you want to track aggregate sums (travel and catering are two examples used in the short film project), Project 2007 has introduced cost resources (introduced in Chapter 3, “Setting Up Resources.”).

However, you may occasionally want to associate a cost with a task that is not tied to resources or work and is not something you want to aggregate across the project. Project calls this a fixed cost, and it is applied per task. A fixed cost is a specific monetary amount budgeted for a task. It remains the same regardless of any resources assigned to the task. The following are common examples of fixed costs in projects:

  • A setup fee, charged in addition to a per-day rental fee, for a piece of equipment.

  • A permit to film in a public location.

If you assign resources with cost rates, assign cost resources, or add fixed costs to a task, Project adds it all together to determine the task’s total cost. If you do not enter resource cost information into a project plan (perhaps because you do not know how much your work resources will be paid), you can still gain some control over the project’s total cost by entering fixed costs per task.

As with resources, you can specify when fixed costs should accrue:

  • Start. The entire fixed cost is scheduled for the start of the task. When you track progress, the entire fixed cost of the task is incurred as soon as the task starts.

  • End. The entire fixed cost is scheduled for the end of the task. When you track progress, the entire fixed cost of the task is incurred only after the task is completed.

  • Prorated. The fixed cost is distributed evenly over the duration of the task. When you track progress, the project incurs the cost of the task at the rate at which the task is completed. For example, if a task has a $100 fixed cost and is 75% complete, the project has incurred $75 against that task.

When you plan a project, the accrual method you choose for fixed costs determines how these costs are scheduled over time. This can be important in anticipating budget and cash-flow needs. By default, Project assigns the prorated accrual method for fixed costs, but you can change that to match your organization’s cost accounting practices.

For the film project, you know from past experience that the filming permits will cost $500, payable when you apply for the permits. In this exercise, you assign a fixed cost to a task and specify its accrual method.

  1. On the View menu, click More Views.

  2. In the More Views dialog box, click Task Sheet, and then click Apply.

    The Task Sheet view appears.

  3. On the View menu, point to Table: Entry, and click Cost.

    The Cost table appears, replacing the Entry table.

  4. In the Fixed Cost field for task 8, Apply for filming permits, type 500, and press httpatomoreillycomsourcemspimages1385431.jpg.

  5. In the Fixed Cost Accrual field, select Start, and press httpatomoreillycomsourcemspimages1385431.jpg.

    httpatomoreillycomsourcemspimages1385710.jpg

Project will now schedule a $500 cost against the task Apply for filming permits at the task’s start date, and the project will incur this cost when the task starts. This cost is independent of the task’s duration and of the costs of resources assigned to it. In fact, the task’s total cost of $1,156 (visible in the Total Cost column) includes both the $500 fixed cost and the cost of the resources assigned to the task.