The Lookahead Reports (PreFresh and PostFresh) are a critical part of the FTTM refresh process. They serve two primary purposes:
The PreFresh Report: provides a list of the Owner's tasks that will be updated in the forthcoming update meeting. In order for the update to go quickly, it includes a convenient "update table" that should be completed for each task assigned to the Owner before the update meeting.
The PostFresh Report: provides a list of the Owner's updated tasks for the coming week, or until the next refresh. It reflects the result of changes made to the schedule as a result of the update and pull-in.
Both of these reports are generated from the PreFresh Lookahead and PostFresh Lookahead functions in the Refresh Tab in fastProject. Each will now be explained.
The PreFresh Lookahead Report
As mentioned earlier, the purpose of the PreFresh Lookahead report is to help the owners prepare for the update meeting. The report is typically generated the day before the update meeting, so each owner has time to complete it, and if needed, talk to other team members to get the status of the tasks. This preparation is critical if the update in the refresh meeting is to go quickly. Note: it is important the PreFresh report is generated and not rely on the PostFresh report from the previous week, as the schedule may changed during the week.
When the PreFresh Lookahead is invoked from the ribbon, the user will be prompted with the following "PreFresh Lookahead" screen. Various export and other options are available, but it is important to understand that the "Days to lookahead" in the PreFresh window is calculated from the "Days to lookahead" in the Update start window + 1 day (since it's being generated the day before the update meeting). The "Days to lookahead" in the PreFresh window will need to be changed if:
The PreFresh report is being generated earlier than 1 day ahead
Example: the refresh meeting is on Thursday, but the report is being generated on Tuesday. In this case, the "Days to lookahead" number should be increased by 1. The user should not check the "Modify Update lookahead" a the number of days we want to lookahead in the update meeting has not changed.
The PreFresh report is being generated the day before the refresh, but there's a need to lookout further that that indicated in the Update window. In this case, the "Days to lookahead" should be changed to the number of days to lookahead + 1. However, the user should also check the "Modify Update lookahead" so the tasks listed in the PreFresh Lookahead report and the tasks in the update in the update meeting are the same.
Example: the refresh meeting is on Thursday, the PreFresh report is being generated on Wednesday (the day before), but there's a need to Lookout a week (7 days). In this case, the "Days to lookahead" in the PreFresh window becomes 8 (7+1), and with the "Modify Update lookahead" checked, the "Days to lookahead" in the Update window will also be set to 7. It will always be set to 7 for future updates until the user changes it.
Under normal operation, the user simply brings up the PreFresh Lookahead screen, then clicks OK. An example of the (Excel) report is subsequently generated is shown below.
When generated, the user simply sends the Excel report to all the owners listed in the report. Each owner would filter on their name, complete the three status update columns (Started, Completed, Remaining Duration) before the update meeting and come prepared to the meeting with it. If their are tasks the owner is working on but not listed, or conversely, a task has been assigned to an owner that should not be assigned to them, then they should arrange to get the schedule fixed, as it's important the schedule and the report stay in sync.
For both the PreFresh and the PostFresh reports, it is possible to customize the report and perform basic analysis using the ribbon under the "Lookahead Report" tab.
The PostFresh Lookahead Report
The purpose of the PostFresh Lookahead report is to provide an updated list of near-term tasks for each owner. The list reflects the tasks assigned to each owner as a result of the update and pull-in that occurred during the meeting. The "Days to lookahead" is fixed at 7 days, i.e. it assumes a weekly refresh. This of course can be changed, but the change is only temporary and will need to be changed each time if a different refresh cycle is used.
As with the PreFresh Report, the user simply invokes the PostFresh Lookahead function and clicks OK. An example of the report is given below. As the purpose of the report is to guide the owner over the coming week, more pertinent information is given, including:
Predicted Finish date
Days From Critical Path (indicates the degree of urgency, and allows the Owner to prioritize their tasks)
Whether the task is due by the next refresh*
The average trend over the past 9 weeks (more specifically, the past 9 refresh cycles)
The owners should be proactive. If there is a task near the critical path that they know is going to slip (or potentially slip) the schedule, they should not wait until the update meeting. The schedule should be updated as soon as conveniently possible and it's impact seen. Actions can then be taken immediately rather than wait for the update meeting and loosing valuable time.
A guide on how to interpret the Lookahead reports can be downloaded here: Download Lookahead Report