How to Create Milestones in Your Project Using MS Project

planning-and-scheduling-with-microsoft-project-2010All of us have our own personal milestones that we want to achieve like owning a home or investment property or starting up a business.  A milestone refers to a different type of achievement in project management however.

A milestone is placed at the end of a particular phase in a project to signify that the said phase/project has been completed successfully.

In the project management framework, it is the only event that receives special attention due to its nature. Another purpose of a milestone, as regards project management, is to indicate an important decision that needs to be taken immediately before the end of a work phase or a project. Thus, with this, a milestone can be considered to show both the distance traveled and the direction of the travel.

How, then, does a project manager or specialist add a milestone event in his or her project plan? The following section lays out the steps in successfully making a milestone event using Microsoft Project 2010.

Creating a Milestone

Upon opening your Microsoft Project, you will find the different tabs in the menu bar, which is found at the topmost part of the Microsoft Project interface. Once you have successfully located this, do the following steps in order to end up with a milestone:

  • Choose the Gantt Chart found on the Task Views group in the View tab.
  • Enter the desired name for you milestone on the first empty row in the Task Name field.
  • Type “0” (zero) in the field that is labelled as “Duration”.
  • Once you are done, press the “Enter” key.

A milestone usually does not have any duration (or 0 duration). However, if you wish to add a duration to the milestone your are putting, another set of steps can be followed in order to end up with it.

Creating a Milestone with Duration

Follow the first two bullets/steps outlined above and then do the following steps:

  • Go to Task Information found at the Properties group of the Task tab.
  • Click on the Advanced button on the Task Information. You will find the Duration field here.
  • Input your desired Duration for the particular milestone.
  • Check the Mark task as milestone
  • Click “OK”.

However, do take note that when you are changing a task into a milestone, you may not need to go through adding a name in the Task Field (both for “with” and “without” duration) as the task is considered to be the label for the milestone.

Project managers have to remember that although milestones can be effective in monitoring the progress of your projects, there are still limits to its effectiveness as they show only the progress in the critical areas.

Adding a project milestone is particularly easy once you follow the outlined steps above. However, if you are using other project management software, a different set of instructions may be given in order for you to come up with the milestone.

Eastwood Harris produces project management training materials and online training courses on Primavera P6, MS Project and PMBOK.

5 Tips for Using MS Project 2010

99 Tips and traps for microsoft project - ebookMicrosoft project is everything a project manager needs to develop a plan, resources and tasks assignment, progress updates, budget management, and manage overall workloads.

Microsoft has been known as the giant company when it comes to office applications, and Microsoft Project is one of its most used products since it has features that make planning and implementing a project easy to handle.

This article will help you understand the pros and cons of Microsoft Project, before you go out and buy the product.

Microsoft designed MS Project as an easily adaptable program, but take note of these tips first before you forge ahead:

1. Take note of the prerequisites To get started on MS project, you need a name. Keep it as straightforward as possible, and avoid overly intricate wordplay. Next two things you need are a.) start date and b.) end date. Also, you might need to highlight information about your client i.e name, background and location.

2. Make use of the shortcuts For everyone familiar with Microsoft, well, software keystrokes and commands are a necessity for everyday use. MS Project utilizes the ALT Key and certain keystrokes for those folks who prefer to use a keyboard instead of a mouse.

3. Filters, filters, filters. This isn’t an Instagram thing, just in case that’s what you had in mind. Filters display tasks for particular scenarios that a manager might find handy. These help him/her delve into the task at hand, and hopefully understand the task more. Most filters are built-in, or simply came with the software. But managers also have the ability to customize them by simply downloading them from Microsoft.

4. Progress is key in every Project, a project manager has the capability to track and monitor different activities’ progress at a keystroke. These are simply outlines tagged to let you know where you are project-wise. Named accordingly, they are: A.) Not Started

B.) In-progress

C.) Complete.

5. Costs are everything. A budget is worth taking note of The Fixed Cost Function is Microsoft’s golden lining. Making everything easier and more practical by giving the manager the ability to simply assign costs to tasks, and illustrate them with the Resource Graph function.

These five tips would help you realize if Microsoft Project is really the right tool for you and for your company to use when it comes to project management.

Because at the end of the day, it is still how applications help you do your job faster and more efficiently that really counts.

How to Set the Project Current and Status Dates in Microsoft Project

99 Tricks and Traps for Microsoft projectCurrent Date and Status Date

Microsoft Project has two project data date fields that may be displayed as vertical lines on the schedule. These dates may be edited from the Project, Project Information… form:

  • Current Date – This date is set to the computer’s date each time a project file is opened. It is used for calculating Earned Value data when a Status Date has not been set. The time of the Current Date is set by default to the start time of a day, see the picture below.
  • Status Date – This field is blank by default with a value of NA. The Status Date will not change when the project is saved and reopened at a later date. It overrides the Current Date for calculating Earned Value data and is set by default to the finish time of a day, see the picture below.

set current status date in ms project

I recommend that the Status Date is set and displayed as a vertical line on a progressed schedule and the Current Date not displayed, because the Current Date represents the date today and does not normally represent any scheduling significance.

Auto Statusing Using Update Project

The Microsoft Project facility titled Update Progress is used for updating a project as if it had progressed according to plan. This function sets Actual Start and Actual Finish dates, % Complete and Renaming Durations in proportion to a user-assigned date, and also sets the Status Date.

Select Tools, Tracking, Update Project… to open the Update Project form:

update project in ms project

There are two options under Update work as complete through: which apply to in-progress tasks only.

  • Set 0% – 100 % complete and this is the recommended option which sets the progress in line with the Status Date, or
  • Set 0% or 100 % complete only. This option leaves the % Complete at zero until the task is 100% complete. This option supports the progress measurement philosophy of not awarding progress until the task is complete, but tasks often look behind schedule.

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

How to Use Baselines to Update Your Project – MS Project Tips

ms project 2010 training manual - spiral editionUsing Baselines and Updating a Project Using Microsoft Project

After a schedule has been reviewed and approved in MS Project, it should be baselined.  Setting the Baseline copies the Early Start and Finish, the Original Duration and each resource’s Costs and Work into Baseline fields

Once the Baseline is set up in MS Project, you will be able to update your plan and compare the progress with the original plan and be able to see:

  • If the planned progress been achieved,
  • If the project is ahead or behind schedule, and
  • By how much in time and cost.

A Baseline is set by selecting Tools, Tracking, Save Baseline….

There are number of options and forms available to update project tasks after setting the Baseline.  Irrespective of which forms are used there are two main methods to update a project:

  • Auto Status the project schedule by allowing the software to automatically update the tasks, as if the project progressed exactly according to schedule. Then, if required, adjust tasks to reflect actual events and revisions, or
  • Update each task one by one.

Which Baseline Should Be Used?

After a project has progressed it may be necessary to set a new Baseline.

This may occur when the scope of a project has changed and a new baseline is required to measure progress against, but at the same time you may also want to keep a copy of the original baseline.

A new Baseline may be used to display the effect of scope changes on a plan by setting a Baseline, adding the scope change and comparing the revised schedule with the Baseline.

The Baseline data may be reviewed in some Views such as the Task Details Form, in columns and on the Bar Chart. You will be able to display the Baseline 1 to 10 and Interim Plan dates and durations in columns and as a bar on the Gantt Chart but not in the forms. Baseline 1 to 10 also do not have variance columns.

Therefore, it is recommended that the current baseline be saved as the Baseline since the data is more accessible from the Baseline than Baseline 1 to 10. Previous baselines should be copied to Baselines 1 to 10 and preserved as a record.

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

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Changing Durations and Assignments in Microsoft Project – PM Training

ms project 2010 training manual - spiral editionDurations and Assignments Change as Resources are Assigned in MS Project

Microsoft Project has some complex user definable relationships that determine which parameters change when resources are added to tasks. For example these relationships may result in durations or hours per resource reducing as resources are added to tasks.

This section will explain how resource assignments calculate and make some suggestions on how to set up the software so the tasks calculate the way you expect.

Task Type – Fixed Duration, Fixed Units, Fixed Work

Users must understand the relationship between the following parameters:

– The task Duration,

– The Work (the number of hours required to complete a task), and

– The Units per Time Period (the rate of doing the work or number of people working on the task).

The relationship is:

Duration x Units per Time Period = Work

For example, a 2-day task at 8 hours per day has a Duration of 2 x 8 =16 hours. If 2 people are assigned to the task the Units per Time Period is 2.00 or 200% and the work is 16 x 2 = 32 hours.

There are three Default task type: options and the default is assigned in the Tools, Options…, Schedule tab. Each new task is set with this Task Type. It may be changed at any time for each task in the Task Type field which may be accessed in a number of places such as the Task Type column the Task form, Task Details form and the Task Information form.

The Default task type decides how this relationship operates when one parameter changes. They are:

Fixed Duration The Duration stays constant when either the Units per Time Period or Work are changed.

A change to the Duration changes the Work.

Fixed Units The Units per Time Period stay constant when either the Duration or Work is changed.

A change to the Units per Time Period changes the Duration.

Fixed Work The Work stays constant if either Duration or Units per Time Period are changed.

A change to the Work changes the Duration.

Therefore your estimate will not change when you change Duration or Units per Time Period.

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

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