Five Tips for Using Microsoft® Project

99 Tips and traps for microsoft project - ebookMicrosoft® 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:

  1. Built-in. Built-in filters are filters that are embedded into the software by default.
  2. 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:

  1. Not Started. The dates are set for the project; however, no so-called Actual Start and/or Actual Finish is inputted.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Eastwood Harris produces project management training materials and online training courses on Primavera P6, MS Project, PMBOK and Prince2.

How to Use the Auto-Status Scheduling Feature in Microsoft Project

99 Tricks and Traps for Microsoft projectSimple Procedure for Statusing a Schedule in MS Project – Using Auto Status

The following process should be considered for people who require one simple method of statusing a schedule. This may not suit all situations especially when a project is way off plan:

  • Set the Baseline by selecting Tools, Tracking, Save Baseline….
  • Display the Baseline bars by selecting Format, Gantt Chart Wizard….
  • Display the Status Date gridline, select Format, Gridlines…, select Status Date.
  • Select Tools, Tracking, Update Project… to open the Update Project form and select Set 0% – 100 % Complete, set the date in the form to the new Status Date.
  • The project will be statused as if it has progressed exactly as planned and the Status Date should now be displayed in the bar chart.
  • Displaying the Tracking Table may assist here.
  • Now adjust the task dates by dragging the bars or entering the dates in the appropriate column; the order that the actions take place is important:
  • Complete tasks should have the Actual Start and then the Actual Finish dates adjusted, in this order, to the date that the task actually started and actually finished. If you adjust the Finish date first then the Start date, you will then have to readjust the Finish date again.
  • Completed Milestones will be changed to a Task when an Actual Finish date is entered, so only enter an Actual Start and 100% if a Milestone is complete.
  • In-Progress tasks should have the Actual Start entered first, then the task bar dragged or Duration adjusted so the finish date is where it is expected to finish, and finally the % Complete adjusted.
  • Consider using the Tracking toolbar at this point.
  • Unstarted tasks should have their logic and durations revised.
  • Add any scope changes to the schedule.
  • Save the project with a new filename and save for future reference.

Paul Harris writes training manuals for MS Project and Primavera P6 and Delivers Project Management Training Courses Throughout Australia and the world.  His books are available on Amazon and Kindle.

MS Project Training Tips – How to Make Task ID’s Unique

planning-and-scheduling-with-microsoft-project-2010How to Display a Task ID that Will Not Change in MS Project

One frustrating part of using Microsoft Project is that the Task ID is not unique and as new tasks are inserted then the ID changes.

The Unique ID field helps resolve this issue, which is often very important in dispute resolution. Each task is assigned a Unique ID when it is created. This number is not used again in the schedule, even if the task is deleted.

There are two other columns that may be used to edit and display relationships using the Unique ID:

– The Unique ID Predecessor, and

–  The Unique ID Successor.

The Task Unique ID allows users to identify easily which activities have been added or deleted or when a revised schedule has been submitted.

On the other hand, if one wants to reset the Unique ID, or hide the addition or deletion of tasks, then create a new schedule, transfer the calendars, etc. with Organizer, and copy and paste all the tasks into the new schedule.

Note : There is also a unique Resource ID and a Resource Assignment Unique ID’s in the project management software.

Hiding Task Information

Sometimes it is desirable to hide some information in a bar or cell about a specific task.  Here are two options for hiding information:

Hiding Bars

To hide a bar:

–  Open Task Information from the General tab, and

–  Check the Hide task bar option.

Hiding Text

To hide text in one or more cells:

–  Select the cells,

– Select Format, Font… to open the Font form and make the Text color the same color as the Background, which is usually white.

Eastwood Harris Supplies Project Management Training Manuals, Project Management Training Presentations and Consulting on Primavera P6 and Microsoft Project 2010 in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

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MS Project Tips – How to Set-up and Edit Gantt Chart Bars

99 Tips and traps for microsoft project - ebookRounding Gantt Chart Bars to Whole Days

In Microsoft Project, the Round bars to whole days is used to make it easier to see short duration bars on a long duration schedule:

– When this option is unchecked, the length of the task will be shown in proportion to the total number of hours worked per day over the 24-hour time span.

For example, an 8-hour working duration bar is shown below:

round gantt chart bars

– When this option is checked, the task bar is often displayed and spanned over the whole day irrespective of calendar working time:

round gantt chart bars2

Bar Text

Text may be placed on all bars using the Format, Bar… form or selected bars using the Format, Bar Styles… form.

Note: The length of the Bar Chart may be reduced by placing the text on top of the bar instead of the end:

editing gantt bar text

Format Gantt Chart Bar Colors

Colors are formatted in a number of forms and there is no single form for formatting all colors:

  • Nonworking time colors in the Gantt Chart are formatted in the Timescale form; double-click on the timescale.
  • Text colors are formatted in the Text Styles and Font forms, found under the Format command.
  • Gridline colors are formatted in the Gridlines form, also found under the Format command.
  • Hyperlink colors are formatted under Tools, Options…, Edit tab.
  • Timescale and Column Header colors are formatted with the system color scheme used in the Desktop, Start, Control Panel, Display option.

The Logic Lines, also known as Dependencies, Relationships, or Links, inherit their color from the predecessor’s bar color in the Gantt Chart view and may be formatted in the Network Diagram view by selecting Format, Layout….

Read More About MS Project

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