Microsoft Project Tutorial: Create Custom Filters with MS Project

high duration filter

I often receive requests for specific tutorials on how to customize Microsoft Project. Creating custom filters, views and tables to help identify late tasks, schedule quality issues or track progress are all part of a project manager’s tool kit. With every new project, the PM can use a customized MS Project template to manage the next project better.

In this Microsoft Project tutorial, I’ll show you how to create a few Microsoft Project 2013 custom filters to identify incomplete tasks, ensure the schedule is free of hard constraints and has realistic task durations.  If you are using Microsoft Project 2010 or 2007, the same process can be applied.

Let’s get started!

Incomplete Tasks Filter

In this filter, I only want to review tasks at the lowest level of the work breakdown structure and identify the incomplete tasks. Summary, subprojects, milestone and tasks missing baselines are not evaluated. By using the Incomplete Tasks filter, I can quickly identify tasks that need to be updated by the project team.

I’m accessing all the filters using the View – Filters tab in MS Project 2013.

custom filters microsoft project

To build the Incomplete Tasks filter:

  1. Select View – Filters – New Filter (Figure 1)
  2. Rename the filter to Incomplete Tasks
  3. Add the Summary field equals No
  4. Add And Baseline Duration does not equal 0d
  5. Add And Actual finish equals NA
  6. Click Save

Incomplete tasks custom filters ms project 2013

This filter will display all the incompleted tasks at the lowest level of the work breakdown structure. It strips out all the summary and milestone tasks so you can focus on the key tasks that represent the project schedule.

Hard Constraints Filter

A quality project schedule avoids hard constraints. The ideal schedule is dynamic and allows the logic to drive the forecast dates. Constraints such as Must Finish On, Must Start On, Start No Later Than or Finish No Later Than stop the logic from flowing through the schedule and often results in scheduling error messages. Therefore, all the constraints in the schedule should be set to Start As Soon As Possible.

To build the Hard Constraints filter:

  1. Select View – Filters – New Filter
  2. Rename the filter to Hard Constraints
  3. Add the Summary field equals No
  4. Add And Baseline Duration does not equal 0d
  5. Add And Constraint Type does not equal As Soon As Possible
  6. Click Save

hard constraints ms project 2012 custom filter

If the filter displays any tasks, you’ll want to revisit the need for the constraint and consider using Predecessors to control the start of the task. It may be necessary to have hard constraints in the project schedule and if predecessors don’t work for you, just remember to use the hard constraints sparingly.

High Duration Filter

The high duration filter identifies any task that has a baseline duration greater than 44 days (i.e. 2 months). As competent project managers, we know such tasks should be broken down into more discrete tasks. Trying to track progress against a 2 month task doesn’t provide enough granularity to understand if the task will be delivered on time.

To build the High Duration filter:

  1. Select View – Filters – New Filter
  2. Rename the filter to High Duration
  3. Add the Summary field equals No
  4. Add And Baseline Duration does not equal 0d
  5. Add And Baseline Duration is greater than 44d
  6. Click Save

high duration filter

If the filter displays any tasks, you’ll want to revisit the task duration and consider breaking the tasks down into smaller tasks with shorter durations.

These filters are just one approach to customizing Microsoft Project. You can also do more complex filter by creating custom fields and creating evaluation logic. By filtering on the custom field values, more complex filters can be developed. I’ll show you how to develop more advanced filters in a future tutorial.

For more tutorials on how to use Microsoft Project, check out our list of Microsoft Project tutorials.

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