Project Management Training – Understanding Start and Finish Milestones

EastwoodHarris_project management trajningUnderstanding Start and Finish Milestones in Project Management

A Project Milestone is created by assigning a task a zero duration:

  • A Milestone is a Start Milestone when it has no predecessors, see Task 1 below.
  • A Milestone is a Finish Milestone if it has one or more predecessors, see Task 3 and 5 below
  • A Start Milestone is at the Start of a Time Period, for example, 8:00 am, see Task 1 below.

A Finish Milestone is at the End of a Time Period, for example, 5:00 pm, see Task 3 and 5 below.

  • A task may also be made to look like a Milestone by checking the Mark as a milestone in the Task Information form General tab, see Task 2 below.
  • The Milestone may be set to display at the Start or Finish of the Tasks by editing the From and To fields of Milestones in the Bar Styles form:

Note: Unlike some other scheduling software it is not possible for the user to assign a Milestone as either a Start or Finish Mile Stone in Microsoft Project.

Converting a Finish Milestone into a Start Milestone

Sometimes it is important to have a Start Milestone with has a predecessor. For example, Task 5 in the picture below may be required on Friday morning not Thursday afternoon:

One workaround to achieve this in MS Project 2010:

  • Assign a short duration to the intended Start Milestone. The duration is not important, say I min.
  • Check the Mark as a Milestone in the General tab of the Task Information form.
  • Ensure all successors of the Start Milestone are Start to Start, otherwise all successors will span 1 day longer than their assigned duration:

Eastwood Harris Supplies Project Management Training Manuals, Project Management Training Presentations and Consulting on Primavera P6 and Microsoft Project 2010 across Australia.

Project Management 101 – Understanding Your Project

project planning and control using primavera p6 version 8.2Understanding Your Project Before You Start

Before you start the process of creating a project plan, it is important to have an understanding of the project and how it will be executed.

On large, complex projects, this information is usually available from the following types of documents:

  • Project charter or business case
  • Project scope or contract documentation
  • Functional specification
  • Requirements baseline
  • Plans and drawings
  • Project execution plan
  • Contracting and purchasing plan
  • Equipment lists
  • Installation plan
  • Testing plan

Many project managers conduct a Stakeholder Analysis at the start of a project. This process lists all the people and organizations with an interest in the project and their interests or desired outcomes.

  • Key success factors may be identified from the interests of the influential stakeholders.
  • It is important to use the stakeholder analysis to identify all the stakeholder activities and include them in the schedule.

It is imperative to gain a good understanding of how the project is to be executed before entering any data into the software.

It is considered good practice to plan a project before creating a schedule in any planning and scheduling software. These documents are referred to by many terms such as Project Execution Plan or Project Methodology Statement. You should also understand what level of reporting the project team requires, as providing either too little or too much detail will often lead to a discarded schedule.

There are three processes required to create or maintain a project plan at each of the four levels:

  • Collecting the relevant project data,
  • Entering and manipulating the data in software, and
  • Distributing, reviewing and revising the plan.

The ability of the scheduler to collect the data is as important as the ability to enter and manipulate the information using the software.

On larger projects, it may be necessary to write policies and procedures to ensure accurate collection of data from the various people, departments, stakeholders/companies, and sites.

Eastwood Harris Supplies Project Management Training Manuals, Project Management Training Presentations and Consulting on Primavera P6 and Microsoft Project 2010 across Australia.

MS Project 2010 Tips – Splitting In-Progress Tasks

99 Tricks and Traps for Microsoft projectSetting an In-Progress Task

When the Split in-progress tasks option is enabled in the Tools, Options…, Schedule form, a task will Split automatically when a task commences before its predecessor finishes.

Microsoft Project is inconsistent when the Split in-progress tasks option is used with tasks that are assigned with one of the following options:

  • An Actual Start and 0% Complete — these tasks are not split, or
  • An Actual Start and % Complete set between 1% and 99% Complete — these tasks are split.

The two examples below are from the same schedule, both with the Split in-progress tasks option checked, one with 0% and one with 1%. You will notice the task assigned 0% has an earlier Finish  date than the task assigned 1% Complete, which has split.

Note: You therefore need to pay careful attention to any warning messages Microsoft Project presents.

Excerpt from 99 Tips and Traps for Microsoft Office Project

Paul Harris

Microsoft Project 2010 Tips and Traps – Resource Calendars

99 Tricks and Traps for Microsoft projectResource Calendars

Each resource is created with its very own editable calendar. Here are some important points:

  • Each new resource is assigned a copy of the current Project Calendar as its Base Calendar.
  • This Resource Base Calendar may be changed in the Resource Sheet or Change Working Time form to another Base Calendar.
  • Any change to a Base Calendar will be reflected in any Resource Calendar.
  • The Resource Calendar may be edited to suit the availability of the resource. Days may be made non workdays to represent holidays, etc.
  • Normally the duration of a resourced task calculated from the Resource Calendar.
  • A task will finish at the end of the longest resource assignment when there are two or more resources assigned to a task that have different end dates due to different Resource calendars or assignment durations.
  • When a Task has been assigned a calendar and the check box in the Task Information form Advanced tab Scheduling ignores resource calendars is checked the task duration is then calculated from the Task calendar.
  • The Finish date may be calculated differently after a task is assigned one or more resources when the Resources Calendars are not the same as the Task Calendar.

Excerpt from 99 Tips and Traps for Microsoft Office Project

Paul Harris

MS Project 2010 Tips – How to Assign Task Calendars

99 Tricks and Traps for Microsoft project“How to Assign Task Calendars

A task may be assigned a calendar that is different from the Project Calendar by:

  • Displaying the Task Calendar column and editing the Task Calendar from this column, or
  • Double-clicking on the task to open the Task Information form and selecting the Advanced tab.

After a calendar has been assigned, an icon will appear in the Indicators column and the calendar name displayed in the Task Calendar column, as shown in the picture below for the Installation Requirements task:

  • The task Finish date, Total Float, Free Float and Variances from a Baseline will be calculated on the Task Calendar. This often leads to confusion for new users as tasks on a 24-hour/day calendar will have different Float than tasks on an 8-hour/day calendar.
  • When resources are assigned to a Task the Finish date is calculated on the Resource calendar; unless the Task has been assigned a calendar and the box in the Task Information form Advanced tab Scheduling ignores resource calendars is checked, then the task duration is calculated based on the assigned Task Calendar.”

Excerpt from 99 Tips and Traps for Microsoft Office Project

Paul Harris

Project Planning & Control Using Primavera® P6TM For all industries including Versions 4 to 7

SHORT DESCRIPTION OF SUBJECT MATTER A user guide and training manual written for Project Management Professionals who wish to learn how to set up a database and plan and control projects using Primavera P6 with or without Resources and Roles.
READERSHIP The book is aimed at:

– Project management companies who wish to run their own software training courses or provide their employees with an alternative text to the vendor supplied user manual. This book may be customized to meet your requirements, please contact the author for details. This book is a PMI Approved course. REPs may apply to have this course licensed to them.

– Training organizations requiring a training manual to run their own training courses.

– People who wish learn the software but are unable to attend a training course but find the software reference manual hard going.

SHORT DESCRIPTION ON FRONT COVER This book is an update of the authors Primavera Version 6.2 book and contains more chapters including Global Change, Multiple Project Scheduling, Managing the Enterprise Environment, Resource Optimization and Leveling. It has been written using the Construction and Engineering version but may be used by any industry and covers Versions 4 to 7. The book is packed with screen shots, constructive tips and contains workshops with solutions at the end of each chapter for the reader to practice the skills taught.
BACKGROUND ON BOOK Primavera Systems Inc. originally asked the author to write this book and this publication is ideal for people who would like to gain an understanding of how the software operates up to an intermediate level. It covers Primavera Versions from 3.5 to 7 and it explains some of the differences from SureTrak, P3, Microsoft Project and Asta Powerproject to assist people converting form other products.

The book is designed to teach planners and schedulers in any industry how to setup and use the software in a project environment. It explains in plain English and in a logical sequence, the steps required to create and maintain an unresourced and resourced schedule. It tackles some of the more complex aspects of the software that the user manual does not address. It highlights the sources of information and the methods that should be employed to produce a realistic and useful project schedule.


The book provides advice on how on how the many software options may be applied to projects environments and it aims to teach readers how to plan and control projects created within the software package and stays focused on explaining how to use Primavera to schedule projects by:

– Concentrating on the core functions required to set up an enterprise environment and how to plan and control projects.

– Providing command lists at the start of each chapter as a quick reference.

– Providing a comprehensive table of contents and index of all topics.

The book is intended to be used:

– As a self teach book, or

– A user guide, or

– A training manual for a three day training course.

This book is written by an experienced scheduler, who has used the software at the sharp end of projects and is not a techo. It draws on the author’s practical experience in using the software in a wide variety of industries. It presents workable solutions to real day to day planning and scheduling problems and contains practical advice on how to set up the software and import data.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Paul Harris holds an Honours Degree in Civil Engineering obtained in the UK and is a Certified Cost Engineer through AACEI International, a PRINCE2 Registered Practitioner, an Approved PRINCE2 Trainer and a “Managing Successful Programmes” Registered Practitioner. He has worked in the project controls industry for a number of years and has assisted many companies in a range of industries to set up and run project controls systems. His Melbourne, Australia based company, Eastwood Harris Pty Ltd, offers project controls consulting and training services world wide with a strong focus on Microsoft Project and Primavera software.
AUTHOR’S COMMENT As a project controls consultant I have used a number of planning and scheduling software packages for the management of a range of project types and sizes. The first books I published were user guides/training manuals for Primavera SureTrak®, P3 and® Microsoft Project users.

These were well received by professional project managers and schedulers, so I decided to turn my attention to developing books that demonstrated how the software is used with project management methodologies such as PRINCE2 and the PMBOK® Guide. This book follows the same layout as my other books and I trust this book will assist you in understanding how to use Primavera P6 to plan and control your projects.

Purchase a Copy Now!