Microsoft® is one of the leading companies offering high-quality office tools and software that can help you manage your projects very effectively if you know how to get the most out of the software.
Here are five tips to help get more out of MS Project:
Create the Projects from Scratch
With Microsoft Project, all you need to have in order to create a project are your project name, target dates (both start and finish), your client’s name, and your client’s information such as location.
If you have these needed prerequisites, then you can then start defining your calendars as regards the tasks you have added that are involved in your project. For each project, you can also add logic and constraints as well as schedules. When all of these are done, you can now start formatting your output and distribute your project plan.
Use Alt Key and Keystrokes for Commands
To save time, familiarize yourself with the shortcuts or make use of the Alt command key and keystrokes to be able to view the letters assigned in most of the tabs in the menu bar and in other functions of the interface.
For example, pressing Alt followed by the letter R brings you to the Project tab of the menu bar. Furthermore, if you press the Alt key quickly followed by letter H and number 1 will bring you to the save icon from the Task tab.
You can use these shortcuts and Alt key commands to minimize the use of the mouse (or in cases where the mouse in not available or dysfunctional) and save time.
Understand and Use Filters
Like any other project management tool, understanding and using filters can help managers in a great way.
With filters, users can display a particular task with specific criteria. Meaning, users can use the filter function to choose which criteria of a specific task he or she opts to display at the specific moment. This would further help him or her understand the data in a task more. There are two types of filters in Microsoft Project.
These are the following:
- Built-in. Built-in filters are filters that are embedded into the software by default.
- Custom. Custom filters are those uploaded and customized by the user.
Track Your Progress
Microsoft® Project comes with a function that permits users to track the progress of different activities of a particular project. Three labels or stages of a project are usually used in tracking progress. These are the following:
- Not Started. The dates are set for the project; however, no so-called Actual Start and/or Actual Finish is inputted.
- In-Progress. This stage contains an Actual Start which signals that the project has already started but has not been completed or is in the process of completion.
- Complete. Finally, activities or tasks in the Complete stage has both the Actual Start and Actual Finish dates to serve as a proof that it has passed the completion stage.
Assign Costs to Tasks
Finally, a user can assign a cost to a specific task(s) by using the Fixed Cost function in Microsoft® Project. This Fixed Cost is added to the total cost of your project which is then further illustrated using Resource Graph function. This function enables a user to keep track of the actual cost of each task and can use such costs in providing cash flows if needed.
Project management is the act of doing a step-by-step process in order to manage and produce a project that is successful, on time and within budget.
According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), project management therefore is the “application of knowledge, skills and techniques to execute projects effectively and efficiently.
It’s a strategic competency for organizations, enabling them to tie project results to business goals — and thus, better compete in their markets.”
The organization has developed a book solely dedicated to giving the project management professionals a guide to a successful and standardized project. Fortunately, these steps can be summed up into five simple steps: planning, budgeting, execution, monitoring and control, and closure.
Not just in project management, planning is considered to be the most important step in achieving a goal. Planning includes the courses to take or the step-by-step moves to execute in order to come up with the desired results. All other processes involved in project management should be included in the planning phase. It has often been tested and proven that a good project is a result of a good planning.
Budgeting comes next in the list of important aspects to consider in project management. In this phase, the materials and cost of the overall project is taken into account, making sure that it would meet the budget allotted for the said project without compromising the quality of the overall project itself.
The third process in an effective project management is the execution. Once all aspects of planning have been taken into consideration, it is now time for the execution of all of the steps involved. Execution is the most crucial step when it comes to project management as this step would define if the project is a success or otherwise.
Monitoring and control is an aspect often overlooked in project management. However, this should not be the case as monitor and control is the longest-running phase in project management. This should start from when the planning phase of the project management to ensure that everything that is covered during planning will meet the project objectives and goals as well as double check that everything else is executed according to plan, such as the costs, resources, and duration. In other words, monitor and control should check the quality and quantity of the project and ensure that everything is on track.
Closure is the last step in project management. This is where the project team would decide based on the outcomes of the other phases of the project management if the project was a success, a failure, or otherwise. This is also where the team members would discuss several points for improvement and other observations recorded during the whole duration of the project. Thus, closure is also a very important phase in project management as this would help make future projects even better than the recent one, with lessons to apply such as the do’s and don’ts in implementing a project.
Managing projects effectively is never an easy job, but if you keep these five important aspects in mind, you are better equipped to have a successful project that not only benefits you and the company but also the audience or the consumers who patronize your projects.