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  • Sebastian Sieber

#18 - D365 Project Operations Advent Calendar: Insights in Project Controlling

Hello and welcome to Episode 18 of the Project Operations Advent Calendar. The last Monday of the series! We slowly coming closer and closer to the end 🎅🏼

Day 18 of Advent Calendar

Project Controlling

We already covered various options to plan and estimate Task plans and Projects. All the planning will be examined when performing the Project.

Besides matching Actuals and Budgets, the project manager has more options available to review progress and implementation.

Important Note: The out-of-the-box calculation in Project Operations will only consider approved values. Therefore submitting and approving time and expense entries on a regular basis will be crucial to receive always the latest values.

If Team Members only track and submit their time at the end of the month, the project manager will be inhibited in their controlling capabilities. Likewise, the project approvers should also not wait too long if live controlling is required.

Alternatively, custom roll-up fields for draft and submitted time entries and plugins can make data more discoverable.


Approved time and expense entries will be processed as Actuals in the system. Actuals have different types - on a high level, we decided between costs and sales Actuals.

As the types state, cost Actuals cover cost prices and therefore are interesting for the project manager to value budget and controlling.

While sales-type Actuals are intended for the invoicing and sales-related margin. There are different statuses if an Actual is already connected to an invoice or not - furthermore for processes including intercompany invoicing, one approved record can produce up to four Actuals to cover all options.

Actual Hours (Effort Completed) and Costs (structured by type) are obtainable on the Project level on the Summary Tab, next to their estimated values:

Actuals on Project form in Project Operations

As a project manager, it's perhaps already possible to work with these numbers. I would like to recommend using dashboards, charts, or custom KPIs to display data more attractively.

Plus, as already mentioned, make data such as draft or non-approved hours and costs available on the project next to the approved values.

I always tend to say - the data is available in the system - it's just up to us to make it more accessible.


For more details, mainly on the project task level, the project manager can find the Tracking grid on the same named tab.

Tracking Efforts in Project Operations

Based on the project plan the Effort in Hours and Cost values can be controlled and per task reviewed. It's also possible to add Cost and Effort columns to the same view via the Add Column option at the very end of the grid.

Unfortunately, changes here are not stored for the project and will be lost as soon as the user leaves the tab.

In order to review the revenue for the project or every single task, it's also possible to switch between Cost and Bill Rates in the Cost section.

Cost and Bill Rates and add columns in Project Operations

On top of all the Actual and Estimated values, the most interesting value in my opinion would be estimates to complete the task. Either the Costs and Efforts side of view can be used as forecasting values in customer communication and internal planning.

Especially for projects not leveraging the Budget feature.

Overall the Tracking grid view is read-only - besides the column Effort remaining:

Update Effort remaining

Project managers are able to adjust the remaining hours on every task - ideally based on arrangement with the Project Team Member.

These live adjustments support and empower project managers for more effective decisions throughout the project delivery phase.

In conclusion, project managers will find different ways to control their projects. But it is necessary to define which values are relevant and what "live" stands for.

My experience so far: it will be necessary to extend the given tools to make the data accessible that is already there in the system.

In the future, the Budget and forecasting feature could develop as the main controlling instrument in Project Operations, which you would like to consider when making customizations to the existing structures.

I hope you enjoyed today's episode, many thanks from my side for stopping by 😊🎅🏼


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